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The Natural Home. Working With What You’ve Got. What is Natural/Green Building? Current Definitions:. Buildings made from natural materials (earth, straw, clay, stone) and/or recycled materials Superinsulated systems (ICFs, AAC, SIPs) Super energy efficient systems

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The natural home l.jpg

The Natural Home

Working With What You’ve Got


What is natural green building current definitions l.jpg
What is Natural/Green Building?Current Definitions:

  • Buildings made from natural materials (earth, straw, clay, stone) and/or recycled materials

  • Superinsulated systems (ICFs, AAC, SIPs)

  • Super energy efficient systems

  • Building with few toxic chemicals and/or synthetic mateirals

  • Buildings that use alternative sources of energy

  • Super-durable structures & components


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Green Building: A combination of design elements and materials that take into account the impact of a building on its surroundings and inhabitants.

Whole Picture Includes:

  • Earth

  • Human Health

  • Energy (embodied & ongoing use)

  • Availability of materials

  • Budget

  • Skills

  • Aesthetics

  • Other Values


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Plan in accordance with your values

Make a list of green values in order of importance to you. Use this list when making decisions about your project.


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Green Aspects of Remodeling/Retrofitting

  • Much embodied energy already spent (foundation, structure)

  • Materials can be re-used

  • Site has already been disturbed and (possibly) restored


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Challenges of existing homes in Silver City area

  • Under-insulated

  • Single-pane windows

  • Little regard for solar orientation

  • Small size

  • Generally outdated


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Be Realistic!

Plan on $20-$100/sf depending on use of space, + 12-20% contingency

Include funds for special, beautiful elements

Green building has more costs up-front, less cost long-term

Quality Materials: Do-it-once

Alternative Energy? Do your pay-back math.

A Green Project Needs a Green Budget


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Determine your priorities and needs

  • Occupant Health (non-toxic, non-emitting materials)

  • Energy Efficiency (tight envelope)

  • Natural Materials (earth, straw, stone, wood)

  • Consider relationships between priorities


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Solutions for staying within Budget

  • Consider YOUR needs, not the next owner’s

  • Design multi-purpose spaces

  • Shift use with the seasons

  • Practice resource conservation


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Super-cheap Heat & Cool

  • Basic Principle: Let sun in or keep sun out

    • Use shade cloth in summer (without replacing windows)

    • Trap cool air in summer

    • Clay plaster adds thermal mass to any wall

  • Alternative heat sources--our climate is well suited for efficient wood & pellet stoves


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Do-It-Yourself

  • Don’t underestimate the power of resurfacing

  • Paint, plaster, refinish floors

  • Your labor will help you afford better materials


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Resurfacing, cont’d:Using what you have

  • Keep material out of the landfill

  • Save money by making what you’ve got into something you love!


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Reuse existing elements of home

  • Especially wood, concrete, stone

  • Re-Store is a good source for other items

  • Great DIY activities


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Silver City ReStoreHabitat for Humanity


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Think small(er)

  • Smaller spaces cost less total and use less resources

  • Augment small indoor spaces with outdoor space

  • Outdoor spaces cost less

  • Create habitat to offset building

  • Grow food for inhabitants


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Your Green Home

  • View your remodel as a process--do things right, do them once, do what you love

  • Make energy efficiency upgrades, but also find solutions in the meantime

  • Use our climate to your advantage--extend your living space, interact with your home to keep it comfortable.


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