Expanding Tiny Home


In order to be able to tow them, tiny homes must stay within a certain set of dimensions. But this greatly limits the amount of interior space you get. The Idaho-based firm Tiny Idahomes came up with a clever solution to this problem, though to be fair this solution was first adopted by RV and trailer makers. Tiny Idahomes have figured out a way to attach a bedroom, dining room, and lounge to their existing tiny home models in a way that these areas slide out at the push of a button. (more…)

By |October 3rd, 2016|Modern design|0 Comments

Home Insulated With Pumice Stone


Advancements in technology and science have revolutionized architecture and construction, but often to the detriment of traditional building methods. Over the ages, cultures around the world developed construction methods that best fit the climate they live in, and perhaps it is time to go back to the basics. That’s exactly what architects Luis Velasco Roldan and Ángel Hevia Antuña from Ecuador thought. They designed a prototype of a home built using traditional methods once used in the area, and materials that were sourced locally. (more…)

By |September 28th, 2016|Modern design|0 Comments

CLT for Enduring Green Construction Infrastructure


A rendering of architect Shigeru Ban’s Terrace House. The hybrid residential building will be made of cross-laminated timber, concrete and steel. Source: PortLiving

History’s timeline of structural innovations – from ancient Roman aqueducts to cathedrals with soaring rooflines, castles to neighborhoods of mass-manufactured buildings – reads like a primer of Buildings 101. Each has helped us refine our construction methods and building efficiencies, but over time that progress has cost our planet precious resources.

Typical structural building components like masonry, concrete, and steel have large carbon footprints and require great amounts energy to produce. Concrete production alone represents roughly 5% of world carbon dioxide emissions, the dominant greenhouse gas. Weighted with data from the US Green Building Council that 40% of national CO2 emissions come from buildings, it is more than clear that we must reexamine our go-to for construction materials.

Rather than reinvent, though, consider a return to our construction roots. A product called Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) has been used in Europe for a couple decades now, and has proven to be a startlingly green alternative to traditional “industrial age” building materials. This engineered wood building system is made from several layers of solid lumber boards, stacked crosswise and bonded together, providing dimensional stability, strength and rigidity.


CLT Home in Seattle

Replacing concrete and steel with wood as a building material can have a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Starting with the product source, wood is the only structural building material with third-party certification programs in place to verify a product’s sustainably managed origins. At SmartLam, we procure all of our lumber from sawmills practicing certified sustainable forestry practices.

Wood building systems like CLT also bring the advantage of low embodied energy. Embodied energy refers to the energy needed to extract, process, manufacture, transport, construct and maintain a material or product. LCA studies consistently show that wood outperforms other materials in this area.

CLT is also a good choice for architects who want to meet Passive House standard for commercial building. Because wood has low thermal conductivity (compared to steel or concrete), buildings made from wood are easy to insulate to high standards. CLT and its precise manufacturing and milling creates exceptional air tightness, and its dimensional stability helps ensure the building remains airtight over time.


Little House On The Ferry – image source massivatrahus.se


CLT Home by SoNo Arhitekti

For green building, wood is an obvious choice. Unlike other products that deplete the earth’s resources, wood is the only major building material that grows naturally, is renewable, and requires less energy to produce. In fact, wood is the ONLY renewable building material. Using CLT in place of the old standards like steel or concrete is one way to reduce the environmental impact of your structure without compromising on the advances we’ve made in modern structural integrity. It’s a solution for the future.


© Smartlam

With proper design and maintenance, wood structures can provide long and useful service lives equivalent to other building materials. The key is careful planning and understanding of environmental loads and other external factors likely to impact a building over its lifetime.

Strength and Stability
CLT panels form a robust, structurally strong building system that outperforms anything currently available in the USA. Cross lamination provides for superior dimensional stability and offers significant shear strength performance at a very unique weight to strength ratio compared to other common structural materials.

Seismic Resilience
Because of their dimensional stability and rigidity, CLT panels create an effective lateral load resisting system. Researchers have conducted extensive seismic testing on CLT and found panels to perform exceptionally well with no residual deformation, particularly in multi-story applications. In Japan, for example, a seven-story CLT building was tested on the world’s largest shake table. It survived 14 consecutive seismic events with almost no damage. CLT also offers good ductile behavior and energy dissipation.

Test results show that because the mass of the wall contributes to acoustic performance, CLT building systems provide superior noise control for both airborne and impact sound transmission. CLT building systems offer additional acoustic benefits with the use of sealants and other types of membranes to provide air tightness and improve sound insulation at the interfaces between the floor and wall plates.

Thermal Performance

© Smartlam

© Smartlam

CLT’s thermal performance is determined by its U-value, or coefficient of heat transfer, which relates to panel thickness. Thicker panels have lower U-values; they are better insulators and therefore require little or no insulation. Since CLT panels can be manufactured using CNC equipment to precise tolerances, panel joints also fit tighter, which results in better energy efficiency for the structure. Because the panels are solid, there is nearly zero air infiltration into the building envelope. As a result, interior temperatures of a finished CLT structure can be maintained with just one-third the normally required heating or cooling energy.

Fire Resistence
CLT’s thick cross-section provides valuable and superior fire resistance. Due to its mass, CLT panels char slowly. Once charred, combustion slows and eventually stops as the oxygen source is removed.  CLT assemblies also have fewer concealed spaces, which reduces a fire’s ability to spread undetected. CLT structures suffer less degradation than concrete and steel structures in a catastrophic fire event.

Moisture Management & Vapor Diffusion
Wood is naturally hygroscopic and inherently serves as a moisture management system within a building envelope. Ideally manufactured at 12% moisture content, woods inherent ability to absorb and emit moisture can naturally stabilize an indoor environment. The vapor permeable nature of wood allows CLT to transfer molecular moisture without trapping it and creating conditions for mold and decay.  CLT buildings ‘breathe’, minimizing the risk for mold growth and maximizing the comfort of it’s occupants.


© Smartlam

© Smartlam

SmartLam CLT is manufactured from trees harvested in sustainably managed forests.  The raw materials for SmartLam CLT are sourced exclusively from small and medium diameter timber. This responsible cultivation practice maintains and even enhances the long-term productivity and health of the forest. CLT provides a number of environmental benefits in addition to its excellent thermal performance. Wood is the only major building material that grows naturally and is renewable. Life cycle assessment studies consistently show that wood outperforms steel and concrete in terms of embodied energy, air pollution and water pollution. CLT also has a lighter carbon footprint as wood products continue to store carbon absorbed by the trees while growing, and engineered wood manufacturing requires significantly less energy to produce than concrete and steel. This represents a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Healthy Indoor Environment

© Smartlam

© Smartlam

The only constituents of a CLT building system are wood and a non-toxic/non-VOC adhesives. CLT building materials do not introduce any toxins into the indoor environment providing clean indoor air quality. In addition, the CLT wall systems are naturally breathable, which, integrated with appropriate mechanical systems, will result in a healthy indoor environment that maximizes occupant comfort and health.

Life Cycle Analysis
The longevity of CLT components ensures that the future value of any structure remains high. CLT buildings are easily altered and remodeled and are also fully recyclable once they reach the end of their useful life. With the utilities located to the interior of the building, not enmeshed with structural and insulating systems, buildings can be easily remodeled.

Cost Effectiveness
Comparing the cost of CLT versus certain concrete, masonry and steel building types and including the advantages of faster construction time and lower foundation costs, the estimated total costs of CLT structures can be very competitive.

Design Flexibility

© Smartlam

© Smartlam

CLT has unique structural properties that allow architects and designers increased flexibility of design allowing for distinctive and innovative projects. Due to wood’s inherent ductility and unique strength to weight ratio, wood offers many advantages over the other common structural materials such as masonry, concrete, and steel.

Speed of Build
From one-person builders to large construction companies, CLT structural systems will arrive on-site ready to assemble, saving time and money with a swift and accurate building process.

Reduced Waste
CLT panels are manufactured for specific end-use applications, which results in little to no job site waste. Plus, manufacturers can reuse fabrication scraps for stairs and other architectural elements. SmartLam is a “zero waste” facility and utilizes all of our residuals either through re-purposing, as wood product constituents, or bio-fuel.

Author Bio
Casey Malmquist, President and General Manager of SmartLam, has served in this position since SmartLam’s inception in January of 2012, and has led the SmartLam team from the ground level to becoming a globally-recognized producer of Cross-Laminated Timber products. Mr. Malmquist has over 30 years’ experience owning and operating a successful construction and development company.


CLT Wood Innovation and Design Centre – Prince George, Canada


CLT Mixed Use Community – Arbora Montreal Canada


8 Story CLT Building in Finland


CLT Star Mill

CLT Star Mill

CLT Star Mill

CLT Star Mill


CLT Elevator Shaft

CLT Elevator Shaft

Using Grasscloth and Natural Wallcovering for Eco-Friendly Decor


Our homes are one of our primary outlets for self-expression. Whether we are entertaining guests or simply welcoming friends and family, our home decor says a lot about who we are and the type of atmosphere that we wish to present. For those with eco-friendly or earth-based style preferences, finding wallcoverings which project your personal style can sometimes present a challenge. Fortunately, there are a number of grasscloth and natural wallcovering options which will flatter any living space while complementing your home’s existing eco-friendly style.


In case you are unfamiliar with these products, grasscloth wallpaper is a type of wall covering which is created by weaving dried grasses together and affixing them to a paper backing. Based upon the types of grasses used, it comes in a variety of colors and patterns, and with textures varying from fine to coarse. Because it is crafted from sustainable, natural materials, grasscloth wallpaper is considered an environmentally-friendly option for both homes and commercial spaces.

Note, however, that there are some factors that you should consider when choosing grasscloth wallpaper. The first is that because this is a natural product, it varies in color and pattern. That means you will not be able to perfectly match the rolls to one another. The result is visible seams which can be disconcerting to those who are used to flawless wallpaper patterns. Also, note that you should not use grasscloth or other natural wallpaper in smaller bathrooms or any space in which humidity might be a problem.


Most varieties of grasscloth wallpaper feature a single piece of seagrass held in place by a thin cotton thread, which is attached to the paper backing via a light adhesive. This means that grasscloth wallpaper is susceptible to damage if placed in a high traffic area. While grasscloth makes a lovely wallcovering choice for many homes, you should consider your space itself before making the grasscloth choice.

For spaces in your home for which grasscloth simply is not well-suited, there are a great number of designer wallpaper options from which you can choose. Options vary from vintage to modern styles, and textured options provide a great way to add depth to any living space. Choose a simple floral pattern or a unique color scheme to suit your home’s decor. Best of all, most wallpapers are suitable for any room, and provide a beautiful alternative to natural wallcoverings in the high-traffic and potentially humid parts of your home.

grasscloth_wall_designWhether you choose a grasscloth or other natural wallcoverings, you should take your time in making your selections. Unlike artwork, mirrors or other decor items, wallpaper of any kind is not easily interchangeable. Therefore, you should choose a pattern which does not overpower your space and can accommodate a variety of decor pieces should your preferences change over time. With a respectable time investment, you are sure to find something which will bring beauty to your home while showing off your personal style.



By |September 24th, 2016|Design, Fixtures, Modern design, Products, Surfaces, Tips|0 Comments

Tiny Home Fits Family of Three


Tiny homes are considered too small for families by many, but some are still making it work. Like the couple living in this 400 sq ft home with their baby and dog. Their home was designed by Tiny Portable Cedar Cabins of Idaho.

The so-called Urban Cabin measure s12 ft by 28 ft, and showcases a wonderful blend of rustic and modern elements, complete with a shed-style roof. It’s also quite mobile, since it is considered a park model RV, meaning it’s possible to move it using a semi-trailer truck. Though it wasn’t designed to be hauled around as often as other, smaller tiny (more…)

By |September 22nd, 2016|Modern design|0 Comments

Bring Lasting Beauty to Your Home With Eco-Friendly Redwood


© California Redwood Association

When it comes to creating sustainable, eco-friendly homes, some homeowners may feel they need to turn a blind eye to beauty and appreciate the greener features that may not add to their curb appeal.

There’s a building material available today, though, that defies that assumption: redwood.

Grown and harvested under some of the world’s most stringent environmental guidelines certified well managed and sustainable, redwood is one of nature’s most versatile building products that will bring both strength and natural beauty to any design aesthetic. It is like the supermodel of softwoods.


© California Redwood Association

Redwood is a sustainable building product – start to finish. A Life Cycle Assessment study of redwood showed that redwood lumber is much more environmentally friendly than the production of engineered alternatives. Because redwood is all-natural, it can be recycled or repurposed after its project has reached the end of its life. Synthetic solutions such as composite decking can just end up in a landfill.

In addition, redwood trees continuously scrub carbon (CO2) from the atmosphere, converting that carbon to wood. Even better: that carbon remains stored even after a redwood tree is milled for lumber. That means the average size redwood deck holds on to a half-ton of carbon.


© California Redwood Association

More than just beautiful and eco-friendly, redwood possesses an excellent strength to weight ratio and can span greater distances than plastic composite decking, making it even more economical to use. In addition, it is naturally resistant to decay, termites, and even fire. With periodic maintenance – cleaning and refinishing – a redwood deck will last 25 years or longer.

Redwood’s versatility means it is the perfect addition to any part of the home; more than just a decking material, redwood can be the starting point of a dramatic outdoor kitchen, pergolas, exposed timber beams, full walls of paneling, and more. The only limit is really the homeowner’s imagination.

With its natural strength, universal aesthetics and sustainable roots, redwood is the perfect green touch to complete your eco-friendly home.

Author Bio
Charlie Jourdain is president of the California Redwood Association. Reach him at [email protected] or (888) CAL-REDWOOD.

Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016, the California Redwood Association is one of the oldest trade associations in the lumber industry. From the very beginning, the association’s primary mission has been to promote redwood products and educate builders and consumers on the advantages of using redwood. To learn more about redwood, visit the CRA at Real Strong Redwood.


© California Redwood Association


© California Redwood Association


© California Redwood Association

By |September 17th, 2016|Design, Modern design, Tips|0 Comments