What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Sunday, 21 October 2012

At long last, the tile is going in on the bottom floor of the house. Most of it is sourced from local recycled sources or from flooring liquidators who sell on left over batches. Here we see the hearth tiles going in with the input hole cut to supply outdoor air to the woodstove. The roughly 1 ton of tile, mortar, grout and concrete backer board going in will add thermal mass to absorb heat coming up from below provided by the solar thermal system which will encompass domestic hot water and underfloor radiant heating. The added thermal mass will also help to moderate temps in the summer time reducing the need for AC. The posts visible here are locally harvested black locust and they provide support to the upper floor once supported by the walls that have been removed. Eventually the chimney will be cobbed and clay plastered with clay harvested onsite.

Friday, 14 September 2012

rainwater harvesting tanks in place

In response to a comment from Sharon, here is a shot of the rainwater tanks in place. You can see two of the 1550 gallon tanks, the third is to the left, sheltered under the deck. I've filled the spaces between the tanks and the house with styrofoam from the neighborhood waste stream as well as layered waste styrofoam sheets on top to prevent freezing. The intake system is visible with roof washer to the right, there is another one from the other side of the house as well. There are also 3 500 gallon tanks elsewhere for backup storage. More details to follow.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Taking a fossil fuel burner off the road

My old toyota is going to the junk yard for NPR.

Still runs but I've replaced it with a safer more reliable car.

We get along fine with one car now, planning on keeping it that way. 

Friday, 29 June 2012

Today's result

Well it got to 99º today and the warmest the house reached was and is 78º, so far. The temp outdoors is falling now, but slowly, so it is possible the house will get warmer, I doubt it. I'm claiming success.

Big test for the design today!

We are forecast to reach 104º today. This morning as I ventilated the house I got it to a comfortable 74º. Just as I decided it was warm enough outside to close up, about 8:30, the temp rose inside to 75º which is where it has stayed. In the last 3 hours the temp outside has risen 20º to 95º. So far so good, nice and cool inside with no air conditioning.

How have I kept it cool? Aside from the benefits of the insulated reflective metal roof, the insulation in the walls, and the shade structures minimizing solar gain on the exterior walls I have not opened an external door for 2 hours, though I will have to go out and lower some additional blinds soon, I have done no cooking other than using the electric kettle to make tea, I've turned off/unplugged all superfluous electrical items, and Annie and I have been mostly relaxing (this makes quite a large difference actually as an active human can give off over a 100watts of heat, don't know about the dog, maybe 1 third as much as she is less than one third my weight). When I do go out I will leave through the NW side laundry room which acts as a vestibule. I will also take that opportunity to install another sheet of reflectix into the one window still lacking, between the screen and the glazing on the OUTSIDE. I'll report in later as the temps outdoors max out.
SSW shade structure under construction with makeshift shade cloths all reclaimed from the waste stream

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Efficiency going up!

This morning when I got up, at 7am it was 70º in the house, over the next several hours as the temps rose outside the temp only rose inside to 71º when I left at 10:15 to go to church. In those hours I had aggressively ventilated the house with wide open windows, ceiling fans and an extractor fan upstairs. As the sun rose and began to heat the east side of the property I lowered exterior blinds and gradually began to close windows and insert reflectix in them on the outside between the glass and the screen. Eventually, right before I left all windows were closed and had reflectix installed. When I returned around 2:30, the temp outside was 79º but felt much hotter in the sun, while the house was still a cool 71º. This is encouraging because we don't even have the full shade structure in yet. I'm sure when the real summer heat gets here we'll have a bigger challenge keeping the house cool without AC but I think we are making progress. 
SSE shade structure over the deck. The grape and kiwi will complete the shading of windows wall and water tanks.

SSW shade structure going up. This is where the solar thermal and PV will go.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

signs of spring

signs of spring everywhere to be found
first hummingbird buzzing around
fresh strawberries abound
hawk takes a baby dove 8 feet from my face
potato plants spring from their mound
broken little blue egg shells on the ground
baby possum across my foot without a sound

Friday, 27 April 2012

Gas strimmers are horrible machines!

Yesterday I worked at a community garden. I was handed a gas strimmer and because time was short I agreed to use it. What a miserable piece of kit! Not only did it pollute everyone's air, throw up a cloud of debris, it also isolated everyone present with the infernal racket it makes. It turned what had up to that point been a congenial work party into drudgery. I longed for a quiet and efficient scythe.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Heavy work and rain/rest days

you can see the dry stone wall going in just past the wheelbarrow

Its been a while since I've posted and I'm going to make more of an effort to update this blog more often. Today it is rainy, a good opportunity to rest and get some indoor work done. Lately I've been focused on building the piers for the terrace and south side shade structure. The walls will be dry stone, mostly urbanite, the fill will be clay from the under-house excavation, the posts to go on the piers will be black locust in the round. All quite sustainable. Unfortunately the piers are not so. Quickcrete pads poured 8 to 10 inches into the clay with cinder block structure filled with quickcrete and rebar, with a wire mesh reinforced quickcrete pad on top to bring em up to grade. Lots of lifting 80 pound bags followed by hand mixing and shovel filling leaves my back crying out for a rest. Add to that, my recent discoveries of tons, literally, of free firewood, all hand loaded as logs into my ageing Camry wagon and unloaded and stacked back at home, has left me grateful for this cool wet day for resting.
the tallest pier with the form for the pad

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy Kwanzaa - Faith/Imani

Trusting and believing with our heart and mind in ourselves, our parents, our teachers, and our leaders and our capacity as a people to make a better world.

As Marianne Williamson says "Creating the world we want is a much more subtle but more powerful mode of operation than destroying the one we don’t."

We have to trust that every day we can create the world we want to live in and leave to our children.