Top 10 List: Designing Green Log Homes

M.T.N Design, PrecisionCraft’s design firm, consults with clients helping them meet their green building goals. Check out what they say are 10 important items to consider in designing green log homes!

  1. Consider the Log Home Carbon Footprint using a higher proportion of log or timber in construction.  ECCM (Edinburgh Center for Carbon Management) estimated there could be up to an 88% reduction of greenhouse gases by using log or timber structural elements wherever possible rather than other conventional building materials.  (see the “Log Home Advisor”).
  2. Reduce the use of chemically processed materials in your home by using more logs and/or timbers.  Logs and Timbers are 100% natural.  As a building material they do not emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) or other pollutants into outdoor or indoor spaces.  Ecologically and environmentally, solid wood is the only building product that is renewable, biodegradable, recyclable, energy efficient, and extremely beautiful.
  3. Consider good basic design decisions:
    1. Orientation of the house to elements and the site.
    2. Avoid afternoon sun and dark roofs in warmer climates.
    3. Use “Sun Angle Calculator” to get the ideal overhang.
    4. Use a radiant barrier on the underside of roofs.
    5. Use a vapor barrier on warm or humid side of walls.
    6. Reduce the number of can lights in roofs and switch boxes in exterior walls.
    7. Placement, type, and size of windows and doors.   Use clerestory windows for lighting and ventilation to cool the house.
    8. Build air tight.
    9. Limit vaulted ceilings.
    10. Use eaves, porches, and awnings to reduce the amount of summer sunlight entering your windows.
  4. Use energy efficient products such as:
    1. SIP’s (structural insulated panels)
    2. ICF’s (insulated concrete forms)
    3. Low E / high performance windows and glazing
    4. Install Energy Star appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators and freezers.
    5. Use Radiant Heat.
    6. Use a Programable Thermostat.
    7. Select the proper Water Heater for your home – Conventional storage (size is important), instantaneous, heat pump, solar or tankless coil / indirect water heaters.
    8. Use locally sourced products when possible to reduce carbon emissions  reduces the amount of fossil fuels required for the transportation of  products from other parts of the country or the world.  It also reduces the  amount of plastic and paper products consumed in the packaging of such  far-traveling products.  Buying local reduces consumption of valuable  natural resources.
  5. Use low-VOC products such as indoor paint to improve indoor air quality.  Health experts are becoming increasingly aware and alarmed that man-made chemicals are showing up in our blood and lungs.  Logs are 100% natural and don’t emit VOC’s or other pollutants.  Soil, water and air combine with the energy from the sun in a miraculous process of photosynthesis to produce wood.   Also use eco-friendly stains and sealants on the exterior.  The exposure to toxic chemicals in our every day lives is resulting in significant increases in asthma and respiratory illnesses, skin problems, migraine headaches and any number of health related problems.
  6. Use wood Alternatives or FSC-certified wood products.   Consider using environmentally preferable and rapidly renewable products such as linoleum, bamboo, recycled-content tile or non-VOC carpet.  Choose wood products from sustainable managed forests, such as those certified by the forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
  7. Use rapidly-renewable materials.  Examples include linoleum, form-release agents made from plant oils, natural paints, geotextile fabrics from coir and jute, cork, and such textiles as organic cotton, wool and sisal.  These materials are biodegradable, often (but not always) low in VOC emissions, and generally produced from agricultural crops.  You might also consider recycled interior finishes such as carpet with recycled fibers and countertops made of recycled paper.
  8. Plant Green.  Plant trees to shade the house and for wind protection.  Use native plants in your landscape plan and eco-smart landscaping techniques.  Consider catching rain water from roofs to water some of your vegetation and use stormwater management to control run-off.  Reduce site disturbance.
  9. Use Green Power.  Green Power is an optional utility service for customers who want to help expand the production and distribution of renewable energy technologies.  With green power you do not have to change your electricity provider.  Instead, customers choose to pay a premium on their electricity bill to cover the extra cost of purchasing clean, sustainable energy.  More info on green power can be found at:  http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenposer/markets/index.shtml.  Additionally, there are several renewable energy technologies commercially available for electricity production.  They include:
    1. Biopower
    2. Concentrating solar power
    3. Geothermal electricity production
    4. Photovoltaics
    5. Wind energy

Learn more about PrecisionCraft Log Homes & M.T.N Design.

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