07 December 2009

Building the eco friendly way - External cladding complete and internal fix out

Above is a progress photo of the front/North of the house with all of the external cladding completed.

Keeping the summer solar heat gain out of large north facing windows can be a problem. We love providing lots of natural light into houses but are very conscious of the heat gain issues large areas of glass create. Even with high performance Low E glass, solar heat gain in summer can be a problem.

To manage this, we install retractable external venetian louvre blinds to the windows. When retracted the blinds are hidden in a pelmet box over the windows as you can see in the image above.

The blinds operate through a range of positions from being totally closed and providing full sun shading, to open 90 degrees to allow for increased light but still providing partial shading, right through to totally open as per the image above.

The internal fixout and joinery is well underway, as you can see from the image above the kitchen has been installed.

Achieving an eco-friendly kitchen is about choices of materials, products and appliances.

For the cupboards we have used sustainably forested and harvested Hoop Pine plywood, and for the island bench breakfast bar we have used solid reclaimed Spotted Gum. Wherever possible we prefer to avoid the use of manufactured board products such as MDF or particleboard, many of these products are very high in formaldehyde emissions, as well as contributing to the wood chipping and pulping of native forests.

The dishwasher and kitchen mixer tap are 4 star water efficiency rated and the electrical appliances are all 4 star energy rated. In our opinion 4 star energy and water efficiency is the minimum that anyone should settle for. The cost premium for this level of appliance is so minor compared to the water an energy saving over, say a two star rated appliance.

Heat trapped at the top of a room between the head of the door and the ceiling is a major contributor rooms heating up in summer. Even with good cross ventilation, if there is no way for this trapped heat to escape, then it will stay in the room.

The way we deal with this is by installing a small bank if timber louvres over each door, which can be opened or closed depending on the requirement to heat or cool a room. In the image above, the louvres can be seen over the two bedroom doors. Once the louvres are open, the trapped heat is free to continue on its breeze path and maintain full cross ventilation.

The strange thing about this, is that this sort of installation is a not a new concept. Victorian houses has openable highlight windows over many of their internal doors. What we don't understand is at what point did such a great idea disappear from standard construction?

We have commenced internal painting and are using Natural Paint from Murobond. We feel the name says it all. The paint contains milk, egg white, vinegar and linseed oil to name but a few ingredients which are all natural, bio-degradable and from renewable resources. NO petrochemicals or heavy metals can be seen. Beats me why anyone would use anything else but natural bio paints.

Good for your health and good for the earth.


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