Learn about the most common methods for building an eco-friendly house, including foundations, walls and roofs.
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A green structure must score highly in terms of sustainability and performance — the materials should come from a sustainable source and the building should be well-insulated. Some conventional structures, such as modern timber-framed houses, can be considered green as long as they conform to these principles. The alternative methods described here, however, arguably come closest to the ideal of a truly green construction.
Wood-Post and Beam
Large wooden timbers are used to create the loadbearing structure of the house. Wooden post and beam differs from a conventional timber-framed house in that the size of the timbers often means they form an integral part of the aesthetic finish of the house, and may be visible from the inside, outside, or both. Straw bales may be used as infill.
After wood, earth- or soil-based structures make up the next biggest category of green structures. Compressed soil, usually in the form of blocks, is used to build the structural walls of the home. Although modern building standards question the integrity of such structures, history has shown that they can easily withstand a variety of climates.
Bales can be used as either loadbearing blocks or infill for a timber-framed house. Although straw-bale constructions have been built around the globe, climate is an important consideration as it is vital that water is kept out of the structure. Straw bales are a perfect example of what is essentially a waste product being used in major construction.
Structural Insulated Panel
This type of eco-house construction is an example of green building at its most developed. Highly efficient insulation is integrated into building boards to form large panels. These panels can then be clipped together in a custom-made design. Structural insulated panels may be used to form the roof structure as well as the walls of a house.
Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement
© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009
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