Towers covered with greenery are not a new idea and the first ones are already getting built around the globe in an effort to fight the alarming pollution present in some cities. Now the Paris suburb of Villiers sur Marne is getting its own such tower. The so-called Forêt Blanche (which translates to White Forest) was designed by the famous architect Stefano Boeri, who is no stranger to proposing such vertical forest buildings. Towers based on his designs are already getting built in Switzerland and Milan, while a whole city of such towers is being planned in southern China. (more…)
I prefer rustic style tiny homes over the more modern, minimalist ones, and the new creation by tiny house maker Wood & Heart, based in New Hampshire, is a prime example of everything done right. The tiny house is called Legacy and is made of mostly reclaimed materials, which only adds to its rustic charm. This is the first tiny home built by the company and they’ve entered the market in a big way with it, as far as I’m concerned. (more…)
When it comes to flooring your home, you can’t go wrong with hardwood flooring. Maple and oak floors don’t just look nice they have other benefits including:
- They’re easily cared for
- They’ll last a long time
- They’re easily restored and maintained
- They’re always in style
- They have natural insulation properties
- They work to improve the overall structural strength of your home
Maple Engineered Hardwood Flooring
There are many reasons so many homeowners turn to maple engineered hardwood when they wish to upgrade the flooring in their home.
Maple has a lovely creamy appearance that is quite unique and which creates a homey feel. Some homeowners choose to keep the natural cream color, but even those that desire a slightly different look will turn to maple since the wood does an excellent job absorbing stain, allowing the homeowner to create the exact, unique look they want for each room. Many have found that the stained maple flooring adds a great finishing touch for remodeling projects.
Maple engineered hardwood flooring resists wear and tear. It has a 1450 Janka Hardness rating which makes it a great choice not only for families with young children and pets, but also in office buildings.
After installing maple engineered hardwood flooring in your home, be prepared for lower heating and cooling bills. The flooring provides an additional layer of insulation.
Oak flooring is a very durable type of flooring you can install in your home. It’s one of the strongest types of wood that nature creates, so no matter how much traffic you get through your home, the floor will always look great. It’s a great choice for anyone who has pets.
Oak flooring is a great choice if you live in a humid environment or have a house that’s prone to moisture. Unlike other types of flooring that swells when damp, oak naturally resists moisture, making it a good choice for anyone who struggles with asthma, arthritis, or other conditions that are aggravated by damp conditions.
It’s important to remember that when you choose to have hardwood floors installed in your home, you take steps that significantly increases your home’s overall value.
Some realtors advise their clients to invest in hardwood floors before listing a house on the market. The new hardwood flooring may increase the value of the home, while also increasing the amount of interested buyers.
Author: Sara Rose
Jim Guild and Nunzie Gould don’t just want to build places to live. They want to create homes that live forever.
They approach every project with a commitment not only to their clients, but to community, and the environment. They think deeply not only about the layout of the house, but how what they are building will live and evolve and fit in Bend, Oregon, where they have been master builders for three decades.
The married partners in Jim Guild Construction build high performance homes featuring solar arrays, high efficiency, energy-saving windows, fresh air flow technology and cabinetry and woodwork milled from recycled timbers (they are famous in town for their work with old wood). After decades in town, they know Bend’s climate and understand what materials age well there.
But the materials, their experience and their use of local artisans are only a few of ways they build enduring homes.
Take their latest project, Saginaw Sunset, a 20-lot community on five acres in the heart of rapidly-growing Bend. Saginaw is a property most developers drive right by, urban infill set on a steep, sloping site two blocks from the downtown core. For Nunzie and Jim, it was a challenge they embraced. “We don’t go looking for hard things, but we’re not afraid of them,” Jim says.
At Saginaw, they are creating homes with the aid of local architects and designers that fit into the high desert landscape and offer stunning views of the Cascades, where even in summer residents can see the glacier on the Middle Sister peak.
They are pieces that fit into a whole, parts of the fabric of the community. “When you are committed to community, you build things differently,” Nunzie says. “It’s not just blow and go.”
Their focus on building quality green homes meshes with the growing number of people moving to Bend looking for a smaller, manageable city offering the best of the great outdoors and an active arts and foodie scene. The city is among the 50 finalists for the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP), an award that will go to the community with the greatest progress toward energy efficiency in the next two years.
So the work Jim and Nunzie, active members of the town’s Environmental Center (Jim is on the board), fits right into the city’s growing green reputation. Saginaw Sunset is a way to meet some of the demand for growth in the city without adding to sprawl by expanding Bend’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). Their first home in the development was featured on the Tour of Homes and won the coveted ‘People’s Choice Award’ on the Environmental Center’s Green and Solar Tour.
They are homes with a conscience, built to last. “We want to build something functionally and aesthetically attractive that will be enduring,” Jim adds. “Something that is forward thinking.”
That forward thinking extends throughout the process, from designing the roof line for highest solar efficiency to integrating the inside and the outside and using as many existing native trees as possible. Because comfort is just as important as sustainability, fresh air flows through each Saginaw home while high-tech utilities keep interior temperatures optimal.
“We take a lot of time to think about a finished product before we get going,” Nunzie says. “We think about how will it live? Is it practical? A house needs to fit how you live.”
Their homes are built to not only last a lifetime, but adapt to the changes of a lifetime.
Often people have wasted space in their homes, rooms they don’t use or a garage that serves as storage, she adds. A home needs to evolve. The living spaces that fit a family’s desire change from when their children are three to when they are 12 to when they are adults returning with a child of their own. Through careful planning, the Saginaw homes change with those families. Every house, for instance, has an elevator so they are accessible throughout a homeowner’s life. Every house is custom, created in deep collaboration with their clients. There are no prefab plans. Each dwelling, each site plan, is unique.
Form follows function, but beauty is not sacrificed. “I need a house that is handsome,” Jim says. “That seems like a strange word, but it sticks.”
Nunzie and Jim know how the inside integrates with the outside. “The relationship between the structure and the land needs to be respectful and symbiotic,” Nunzie says.
The high desert of Bend gets less than five inches of rain a year. So they’re not planting big lawns. They add soil amendments to help the volcanic soil of the city (using woody debris at the site to enrich the soil as well). They favor native plants that won’t send the water meter spinning. They use plants that attract bees and butterflies and other pollinators. “We’re being mindful of the bigger ecosystem,” Nunzie says.
Their homes cost more, but Jim and Nunzie point to the return on investment whether it’s in the solar array, which will start turning a profit in nine to 14 years, lower energy bills because of the HVAC system, or just the immeasurable value of living within the beauty their artisans create.
What, Nunzie asks, is the value of making an investment today on your return for tomorrow? What is the value of a super-efficient, long-lived home when it comes time to sell? “Part of it is what are we leaving our community?” she says. “Jim and I don’t want to build lesser quality homes, places that will be bulldozed in 50 years.”
“Our houses don’t age,” Jim adds, “and that’s a really, really important feature. It isn’t magic that makes it happen. It’s the dollars and time you’re willing to spend.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From Video conferencing to Emails: Character of a Modern Business is linked to a Greener, Better Tomorrow
“Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed.”-Leonardo Di Caprio spoke these riveting words during this Oscar accepting at the academy this year. 2015 recorded as the hottest year in the history of the modern world, scientists and experts calling for a united stand of the leading Governments of the world to tackle the problem collectively. (more…)