Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Eco-Friendly Castles

Eco-friendly homes could answer your future housing needs
By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
If you were going to build a new home for your family with money not being a factor, would it be an extreme home?  Maybe you would have a pool, a home theater, a gym, a gourmet kitchen, a four-car garage, and so many square feet that you would have to hire a staff. 
            Men and women’s homes are supposed to be their castles according to many people.  Poet Robert Frost defined home as a place that “…when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
Modern concepts of homes range from paper boxes to palatial palaces.  Latest economic developments have caused people to look at smaller, more efficient homes and to think of true needs versus wants.  People have considered home design from various perspectives for thousands of years.
Take sod roof houses, for example.   The legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon were carpeted with greenery and even the Vikings favored sod roofs.
 Currently the green roof market is growing and the benefits of insulation, filtering of pollution, reduction of storm water run-off, and the cooling effect on the home are becoming more desirable.  Green wall house have the same benefits, plus they add beauty to their surroundings.
Cob houses are a made of a mixture of earth and straw and are similar to adobe homes, but have the benefit of being easier to shape, thus providing architectural interest.   Those structures of similar construction built in the nineteenth century in England are still there.
Using few raw materials, homes made of shipping crates can be combined to make larger houses or left as a small, independent dwellings.  There is a container city that was built in London in 2001 that has drawn much interest.
Wood pallet houses have become a quick answer for disaster relief around the world.  In post-war Kosovo ten by twenty foot shelters were built for $500 using 80 pallets. The first earthship houses made of reclaimed tires, old bottles, and tin cans were built in the 1970s.  For nineteen years, friends and neighbors of Tito Ingenieri living in Argentina saved bottles so that he could build a house. 
An alternative concrete called hemcrete made of hemp, concrete, water, and lime is proving to be more durable than regular concrete.   It also insulates better and is more resistant to fire, mold, and insects.  It is predicted that the material will last seven to eight hundred years. 
Modular homes are readily available and builders see less waste because the house is pre-fitted.  Also, less energy is used in the construction because the parts fit together.  These homes can be small or designs can be combined for larger homes. 
You can make your lifestyle more eco-friendly with a little know-how and a few changes.  Come to Port Discover’s Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, April 26 at Mariner’s Wharf from 10 to 2 p.m. and learn how you can help the planet.

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