27 June 2007

I want an eco-converter!!

Okay, Another hot day in the tent/fortress/future building site. But with a nice little oscillating fan, I'm pretty comfortable. Lucy, my dog, has made it her home during the day. She's found several special spots to keep cool and I have to admire her for it.

Green Pa of Little Blog in the Woods has sagely urged me to continue to consider the earth sheltered construction. I appreciate his insights, since he's been doing this a lot longer than I have, and I gather he knows a good bit about the practical side of eco-friendly existence.

But as a resident in a region in a severe drought, (See here for more) the thought of using all the water to mix the cement, and the carbon emitted by the stuff to get it here, and to dig out the dirt and to take out some of the trees (WHAAAA!!) I find myself wondering if it makes sense to build under ground still. Also, since the stone for cement is often mined from riverbeds, severely disturbing the ecology there...? Oh I don't know!! Wood is renewable but well... finding used wood is tricky. I could get a used prefab building, but then there is shipping.

This is the deal, I want an eco converter.

There are really helpful converters on line. Like this one which converts to metric and back for science stuff.
Or this one for currency.

So I want something like this where I can enter in some thing or some activity and it can give me an eco-rating. Essentially a rating the is an index of water use, energy use, carbon emission, biodiversity loss, transportation costs etc. That way, when I am trying to decide between, say concrete and wood, I can know which is better. Wouldn't that make things easier?

I mean think about it - you could go to the store and things could have a eco-rating on it. Organic vs. locally grown? Paper vs. plastic ? (kidding!) Or if you are trying to decide how to do something there would be some eco-guide with empirical scores for how to do it. (Like building an office?)

Okay. That's all I want.

That, and World Peace, and Al Gore to be our 43rd President.

Is that too much to ask?

(oh and the doors from the strip mall, but I'm working on that too!)

Hey wait!! There is this... but I haven't found it all.


ClareSnow said...

I tried posting this yesterday, but it didn't work and as you've just been wondering about concrete:

Have you considered straw bale construction? Here are some links:
A House of Straw
Strawbale House Plans
50 straw bale house plans
Wikipedia Straw-bale construction

One day I'd like to build a house using strawbale.

Alex said...

Have you seen Malcolm Wells' site at http://www.malcolmwells.com? Very good on underground building projects.

Mary said...

Hi Claresnow!

Thanks for the suggestion! I think the straw bale houses would be great. A few limiting factors here are:
the humidity (hence potential mold problems - which gives me wicked bad asthma)
the size, since I am going for a very small building in a relatively small space very thick walls may be an issue, but I'll look into it.
the drought, since we are having a terrible drought here in Georgia at the moment, most farmers are having to feed hay to their livestock - straw may be available, but I am guessing it would have to be trucked in from the midwest.(Georgia doesn't have a lot of straw - unless you consider count pine straw, which would be fun to build with!)

I'll check out these links and see, and thank you so much for the thoughts. Honestly, I'm thrilled with folks comments and insights!

Thanks again!

Mary said...

Hi Alex!

I do know Malcolm Wells' work fairly well. Abotu 15 years ago I bought a book on building underground for my husband - he always wanted to live in a cave. I haven't been able to locate the book, because it was packed up with all of my other office books when my father moved in. But I have checked out his web page, and several others.

He is amazing.

Do you know of any "sheds" for working that were built into the ground?

Many thanks!!

Alex said...

No, sorry, I don't know of any underground sheds despite looking fairly hard. If you come across any, please let me know. Everything built underground seems, fairly reasonably, to be more for living in rather than live/working in. The nearest I've come really are the various caves in Spain (where I used to live), especially in the south, but again they're more actual homes than shedlike atmospheres.

Alex said...

Sorry, pressed send too quickly. Have you seen this? More house than shed but still impressive.