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Green Building

ABTech Construction Science
Asheville NC's local technical college has an excellent hands-on program for those who wish to get formal training in green building construction science. Previous classes built the Healthy Built Home #1 project which is our featured Model Project in the next section below, and the next class built the Small Leed House solar tiny home. The department's state-of-the-art building methodologies, innovative use of new green building materials, and creative solutions to building problems makes this a first-class hands-on learning environment. 
see:
www.abtech.edu/construction-science/overview

Western North Carolina Green Building Council
A 501C3 non-profit organization whose mission is to promote environmentally sustainable and health conscious building practices through community education.

see:
http://www.wncgbc.org/   

The Natural Home Building Source
Sustainable housing design, passive solar, zero-energy, high thermal mass (HTM™) do-it-yourself solar house plans are featured along with septic system parts and consultation; Infiltrator® chamber leach fields; graywater reuse, greywater recycling systems; Clivus Multrum® and Sun-Mar® waterless composting toilets; Servel® non-electric gas refrigerators; drywell kits for storm water, sewage, washer drainage or erosion sediment control; Kobe® stainless steel hoods; and energy saving products like shade cloth, heat storage tubes, and battery operated flood alarms. see: http://www.thenaturalhome.com/index.html 
GreenHomeBuilding: you can find a wide range of information about sustainable architecture and natural building systems at this excellent website. "How we build our homes, both in design and choice of materials, is one of the most significant ways that we can affect our future. We need to live more lightly on the earth, because the degradation of our environment is compromising not only our survival, but the survival of most other living beings on the planet. We can no longer ignore the impact we have on the earth's ecosystems. The way we live, the choices we make in providing for our needs, will have an enormous influence on the quality of life of those who will follow us." It's about choices...
see:
http://www.greenhomebuilding.com 
Green Building: Builders, Consumers and Realtors' Primer
Green Buildings are really resource efficient buildings and are very energy efficient, utilize construction materials wisely -- including recycled, renewable, and reused resources to the maximum extent practical -- are designed, constructed and commissioned to ensure they are healthy for their occupants, are typically more comfortable and easier to live with due to lower operating and owning costs, and are good for the planet. If you are a builder unfamiliar with the simple approach to green building, this material should give you a starting point for further exploration of the topic, and a better ability to ask the right questions.
see:
http://www.energybuilder.com/greenbld.htm 
Open Building Institute
The brainchild of Catarina Mota & Marcin Jakubowski, OBI is an open source non-profit resource for a diy modular building system that is under continuous development & refinement. The heart of this project is a "Library of Building Modules - walls, windows, doors, roof, utility and functional modules that can be combined to create a variety of homesteading structures." If you are serious about diy green homebuilding, then you must pay a visit to http://openbuildinginstitute.org to begin your design research.

Homesteading

The Stone Camp: Living Off-Grid in Comfortable Independence
If you are of modest financial means but you desire to live sustainably and closer to Nature, then a good place to draw inspiration from is The Stone Camp homestead in southwestern Pennsylvania. There, Ted & Kathy Carns have patiently crafted a forest homestead for themselves that reflects their Earth stewardship values, social responsibility and versatile creative skills. Learn more about them at their website: http://www.thestonecamp.com.

"Off On Our Own": A green homestead lifestyle rooted in self-sufficiency
Creating your own solar homestead & green lifestyle will not be an overnight project - it will take years of patient, hard work and attentiveness to Nature and appropriate green technologies. Slowing down, tuning in, and learning to see what is needed next and how to build it will transform you into a kind of Green Wizard. Ted Carns, of The Stone Camp, may be the penultimate 21st century Green Wizard & DIY Master Builder.

"Off On Our Own" is the autobiographical story of a caring young couple who began a forest homestead journey together and have matured into role models for the rest of us newbies. Full of real life struggles, heartfelt insights, and brilliant DIY creations, "Off On Our Own" by Ted Carns is a great place to start your own journey back to a saner lifestyle.

Look for it in your local library or, better yet, buy a copy from Teddy and help to support his good works. Order directly from him online at:
http://www.thestonecamp.com/about-teds-book--how-to-order.html

Model Projects

ASHEVILLE BUNCOMBE TECHNICAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE,
HEALTHY BUILT HOME #1
AB TECH Construction Management Program is now showing a 25’ x 50’, student built 1250 square feet single story sustainable modular home. The construction principals used received an acknowledgement by the Asheville Meteorological Society for environmental stewardship in 2007. Not yet located on a lot, the home features natural day lighting, regional recycled materials, non-toxic materials, low voltage illumination, flexible rooms and furnishings to reduce costs over the life-cycle of the home. The home will be sold 90% complete with electrical wiring/illumination and plumbing fixtures. Click HERE for more information.
Green Renovation Blog at
http://renovatetogreen.blogspot.com 

LaShell Family Deltec Home: The House That Community Built
Here in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina, community spirit is alive & well and still helping neighbors to build a house they can afford to live in. Relatives, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and church community volunteers all combined with the family & a paid construction advisor to gradually assemble and finish a two story Deltec Home Kit. Like a modern day version of a traditional Amish barn raising, even inexperienced folks lent a hand by doing whatever they could, and many of us stretched a little to learn new, valuable construction skills. Because of Deltec's factory built, panelized construction system, the pre-cut building components arrive by truck stacked neatly on pallets and ready for fast, efficient assembly. A dried-in structure can be achieved relatively quickly, and inside work like plumbing, electrical, HVAC, drywall, etc can be accomplished as time & money permit. Just one example of the "Green Equity Building System" at work.
see:
http://www.outdoorfun.com/helpbuildadeltec.htm 

Lebensold Earthship
This passive solar home has hybrid photovoltaic and microhydro power system, grey-water and black-water treatment systems, energy and water efficient appliances, and a tire and earth berm structure. The American Solar Energy Society has featured the home in the national Solar Home Tour 3 years running. Based on the pioneering work of Michael Reynolds, this is a good place to start your learning process.

see:
here 
Small Leed House
A 276 sqft green built "tiny house" built by construction science students at AB Tech in Asheville NC, lead by, then, department chair Ken Czarnomski. Incorporating many green building innovations, like removable interior wall panels for easy in-wall component servicing, passive solar heating via a miniature Trombe Wall, a green living roof garden, externally accessible utilities closet, and much more, this unique tiny house achieved Leed certification. Note that it was not built on a trailer, so it was placed onsite via a crane.

Worth a look at
here

Open Source Technologies

Open Source Ecology - the Global Village Construction Set
"The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that allow for the easy fabrication of the 50 different industrial machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts. We're developing open source machines that can be made at a fraction of commercial costs, and sharing our designs for free." Founded by physicist Marcin Jakubowski, OSE is a critical focal point for extending the Open Source Sharing Economy into the construction machinery realm. Learn about the GVCS at http://opensourceecology.org/gvcs and gather your local makers to get creating.

Permaculture

Whole Systems Design
You would be wise to implement Whole Systems permaculture principles on your sustainable homestead. Ben Falk has been developing his resilient farm homestead in Vermont for many years and translating his hands-on experience into books, presentations, and onsite consulting. Learn more at http://www.wholesystemsdesign.com

Shelter Options

A Sourcebook for Green and Sustainable Building - Passive Solar Guidelines
Solar energy is a radiant heat source that causes natural processes upon which all life depends. Some of the natural processes can be managed through building design in a manner that helps heat and cool the building. The basic natural processes that are used in passive solar energy are the thermal energy flows associated with radiation, conduction, and natural convection.
see:
http://www.greenbuilder.com/sourcebook/PassSolGuide1-2.html 

A Proper Understanding of Convection Improves Passive Solar Design
Radiant sunshine comes into the passive solar home, with the home itself being the solar collector.
  • Make the heat move itself to where you want it, when you need it.
  • Power a fresh air system to keep you comfortable.
  • Make that fresh air warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

see: http://www.earthshelters.com/passive_solar_design.html 

Solar Design/Build

BUILD IT SOLAR is one of the best DIY Solar "How To" websites on the internet. You'll see organized links to the solar projects of other diy makers and learn the basics of tapping solar energy at http://www.builditsolar.com. Check it out...
A Sourcebook for Green and Sustainable Building - Passive Solar Guidelines
Solar energy is a radiant heat source that causes natural processes upon which all life depends. Some of the natural processes can be managed through building design in a manner that helps heat and cool the building. The basic natural processes that are used in passive solar energy are the thermal energy flows associated with radiation, conduction, and natural convection.
see:
http://www.greenbuilder.com/sourcebook/PassSolGuide1-2.html 

A Proper Understanding of Convection Improves Passive Solar Design
Radiant sunshine comes into the passive solar home, with the home itself being the solar collector.
  • Make the heat move itself to where you want it, when you need it.
  • Power a fresh air system to keep you comfortable.
  • Make that fresh air warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

see: http://www.earthshelters.com/passive_solar_design.html 

Solar Energy Systems

Click HERE for more info on GroSolar... Solar Leasing Program
National solar power installer and distributor groSolar launched a new residential solar leasing program for homeowners in Pennsylvania, offered in partnership with AFC-First Financial and Middle Atlantic Solar Leasing, LP. The solar leasing program allows a homeowner to lease a rooftop solar electric system for little or no money down, and pay a monthly fee for the solar electricity the panels produce. For example, a qualified homeowner can lease an 8 kilowatt solar system for about $120 per month. The monthly lease payment would be about the same as the monthly utility bills no longer being paid. Homeowners also have the option to buy the solar system outright at a later date. More at www.grosolar.com/solar-lease 

Sourcing and Vendors

Creating your sustainable solar homestead will be a huge challenge, and one way you can achieve your goals on a limited budget is to purchase needed items from thrift stores like Goodwill. If you are a careful, knowledgeable and patient shopper you can find used but perfectly usable items at Goodwill stores for 10% of their original retail prices. And many of these items will have been Made In America and may be of better quality than the newer cheap stuff in retail stores these days. Buying these items will give them a second life and keep them from ending up in a landfill - very green!

Plus, your purchases at thrift stores like Goodwill help to employ people who really need a job and get a helping hand, job training & other useful services from Goodwill. 

Remember that electronic devices that don't work properly when you get them home can usually be returned for store credit during Goodwill's allowed merchandise return period.

See www.goodwill.org 

Habitat ReStore is our favorite source for used tools, building materials, doors & windows, fasteners, appliances, cabling, and more. While there is a large variation in the items found at different stores in various communities, by making it a point to stop at Habitat ReStores when you are traveling, you will quickly identify the best ones to frequent.

Plus, your purchases help to fund Habitat for Humanity's mission to build homes for poor families in need. A definite win-win situation.

See www.habitat.org/restores 

Depending upon where you live, there is probably either a Home Depot or a Lowe's within a 30 minute drive from your home. It is difficult to find smaller mom & pop hardware stores and lumber yards with even a small fraction of the building essentials found at these chain hardware stores. And the big guys are open 7 days a week, from morning till night, so if you need it now just check availability on their website then go pick it up.

When buying lumber, take advantage of the fact that you can go to the store and choose your pieces yourself. Wood is never perfectly straight but that doesn't mean that you have to simply accept a home delivery that includes some horribly warped lumber that is practically unusable. So, take your time, go to the store, and select the pieces that will work in your project.

See www.homedepot.com 

Like Home Depot, Lowe's hardware stores are everywhere, and they have almost everything that you might need for your homestead building projects. Over the years we have practically lived at our local Lowe's stores, and we make it a point to check their website to see what they have and how it compares with Home Depot.

Note that both Lowe's and Home Depot let their customers rate on their websites anything that they sell. Be sure to check out those user ratings before you buy something you won't like.

See www.lowes.com 

One of the first issues you will face on your homestead is storage. You will need inexpensive storage units that can keep your landscaping tools, mowers, chain saws, and other gear out of the weather. You will also need to create your woodshop in a utility shed of some sort. Plus, you may want to put up a greenhouse to jumpstart your food growing system. ShelterLogic sells all of these things, plus they sell & support those metal Arrow Utility Sheds.

See www.shelterlogic.com 

Designing & building your homestead residence will involve entirely new skills for you to learn & master. One excellent place to start your journey is at Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Tumbleweed has been involved with the DIY tiny house movement since the beginning, and they have lots excellent resources to help you gain the knowledge & skills that you need. Take one of their 3 day workshops, buy one of their books or DVD's, check out the variety of tiny houses on their website, and ask them questions on their online forum. They can really help you.

See www.tumbleweedhouses.com 

Sustainable Community

Community Sustainability Assessment
The Global Ecovillage Network is developing the concept of sustainability auditing to provide measuring rods for individuals and for existing villages and communities to compare their current status with ideal goals for ecological, social, and spiritual sustainability. In addition, these tools are learning instruments - pointing out actions aspiring individuals and communities can take to become more sustainable. "How sustainable is your present community?"

see: http://gen.ecovillage.org/activities/csa/English/index.php 

E. F. Schumacher Society
Named after the author of Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered, this  educational non-profit organization is a good place to start your research on practical ways to organize, incorporate, finance and grow your sustainable community. Look here for info on community land trusts, legal  local currencies, microcredit loans, and other tested models.

see:
http://www.smallisbeautiful.org/index.html