In Achieving overall efficiency we began with the site, 10 acres of designated timber property on a fairly steep south facing slope. The house will utilize the cleared trees from the building site and mill on site for lumber in the roof system. Vigas (peeled pine poles) will be used on the second floor as well. The first floor will use rastra block (50% recycled polystyrene) reducing the need for concrete by 50% while the second floor will be constructed of wheat strawbales, an agricultural waste by-product, providing a minimum of R45 without the need for additional wood, or synthetic products in the walls.
The house is bioclimatically designed to maximize passive solar, earth sheltering on the north side and partial west and east sides. A thermal mass wall on both floors will provide radiant heat as well as hydronic heating in the flooring for both levels. A wood stove will be used for backup heating and a plan for up to 32 solar panels will provide energy for pumps and necessary electricity.
Two cisterns will collect rainwater from the roof for potable water as well as for the hydronic heating. All overflow water will be chanelled down the site to a pond both for fire control and utilization of water resources for landscaping. Utilizing water collection will reduce sewer and septic pollution.
Overall efficiency shall be obtained through bioclimatic design utilitizing passive and active solar systems, rainwater collection, thermal mass, recycled building materials, strawbale walls, rastra block, local materials limiting production to the site creating a low embodied energy house, that is sustainable, recyclable and biodegradable, that is capable of operating off the grid while providing for a natural healthy and comfortable environment.