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Does anyone have any ideas for using an ecologically sound building method to put up a greenhouse apart from using materials recycled from other buildings?  I’d like to have something that resembles London’s Crystal Palace or a palm house at a botanic garden, but I want to use ecological materials.  Is there someway to build a greenhouse other than simply putting windows in a wall made from rammed earth, strawbale, CEB etcetera?
 
Matthew Fallon
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Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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so , ecological but  nothing recycled?
and none of the usual green-building methods?  nope no ideas. , that doesn't leave much else. actually. that leaves nothing at alli can imagine. you have to use glass or plastic as far as i can see.plastics not as eco obviously.glass is better off repurposed .
and a frame of wood or metal are optimal no?,

i think the windows/glass doors put together is as green as it gets for green-houses.
the wood/metal and plastic skin are faster to make.
personally i like ones attached  and open to the main house the best.
or salvage glass and make your own frame to fit,using locally milled residential/salvage trees...
i had to look up the crystal palace.. geeeesh! you call this eco? haha
i could fit my town in that thing wow.

 
Matthew Fallon
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you're obviously under the misguided notion that I'm attacking what you said.... settle down, I am not .

yes thanks i read it thoroughly.  you say no rammed earth,straw-bale,ceb "etc",where etc =
s other green building methods...then what is left and 'sophisticated' enough for you?
All these methods can be applied either utilitarian or artistically .. why is a door or window inefficient or a "pile of junk" ? search around, there are  incredible examples of whats possible...use your imagination. all that's needed is the glass essentially.again. make your own FSC-wood frames. design it yourself.there is nothing else that meets these requirements.
home-greenhouses i've seen have adequate vents.. actually .all GH's do...high temp isn't necessarily a problem.

i agree that glass structure is a marvel of sorts. as for being beautiful/ecological.er...matter of opinion i suppose...quite revealing. in that picture i see a repulsive aesthetic  that is bent on dominating/conquering nature and putting it in a box...anal retentive even.

there is a long debate here on just how "eco" any greenhouse is for that matter..see "greenhouse suck factor"
 
                            
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tribalwind wrote:
you say no rammed earth,straw-bale,ceb


No this is not what I said.  What I said is, “Is there someway to build a greenhouse other than simply putting windows in a wall made from rammed earth, strawbale, CEB etcetera?”  I don’t mind these ecological materials, but I’ve never seen them result in anything but a plain box.  I am curious to know whether or not these materials can be used to build something that has curved shapes.  Could you use these materials, or some other ecological materials, to build something like a Romanesque or Gothic cathedral that has arch-shaped windows or domed roofs?

design it yourself.


Since I am not an architect and my background is in biology rather than physics or chemistry, this would not necessarily be advisable.  I could experiment to my heart’s content, but with no more know-how than I have, I could end up with a building that falls down.

dominating/conquering nature and putting it in a box...anal retentive even.


I am not an environmentalist.  I am a conservationist.  I am interested in preserving nature only for the sake of conserving natural resources for future use.  I am not an earth-worshiper the way many environmentalists are.  The earth is mine to use by God-given right as long as I don’t abuse that right.

 
Neal McSpadden
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flaja wrote:
Since I am not an architect and my background is in biology rather than physics or chemistry, this would not necessarily be advisable.  I could experiment to my heart’s content, but with no more know-how than I have, I could end up with a building that falls down.


This could actually be a very good thing. Many of the shapes that are most pleasing to the eye are reproductions or imitations of natural forms. Creating a greenhouse in the shape of a honeycomb (or some other repetitive open walled natural structure) might be a great greenhouse.
 
ronie dee
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Location: NW MO
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flaja wrote:
Does anyone have any ideas for using an ecologically sound building method to put up a greenhouse apart from using materials recycled from other buildings?  I’d like to have something that resembles London’s Crystal Palace or a palm house at a botanic garden, but I want to use ecological materials.  Is there someway to build a greenhouse other than simply putting windows in a wall made from rammed earth, strawbale, CEB etcetera?


Have you considered cold frames for small plants? I find that a lot of folks build a big greenhouse when all they need is a few little cold frames.
 
                            
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Location: Abilene, KS
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Wow, I had to google the palm houses, too.  Aren't they just too impressive!
This thread just brings out the builder in me.  I think you could get some of the shapes that you want with just about any material, but the problem is going to be the roof area.  Most of us know it's pretty hard to grow edibles long term next to a window in the house.  The bulk of the roof is going to have to be a material that lets light through.  When you bring all those wonderful curves into the picture, you have a challenge.  Plastic sheeting would work, but would be temporary.  Harder plastic type sheets might fill the bill, but I don't have any experience as to how much bend they have.  Curved glass would probably be cost prohibitive.

Some kids build a small greenhouse using cut plastic 1 liter bottles threaded on bamboo rods (or something similar), and actually it looked better than it sounds.  Wish I still had the link, sorry.  But that would be something that you could curve and might hold up fairly well.

Could you round the corners of your structure and not have glass there?  Then for roofing, have a more typical, easy to build shape with a fancier facade on the front?
http://www.flyingconcrete.com has some great ideas for moveable forms for barrel vaults, but it's concrete.  Might give you some ideas, though.

I think a lot of the folks on this forum don't have engineering and building skills of this magnitude to offer much advice on how to build that roof, but hopefully someone can help.
 
                            
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
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Flaja,
You might want to watch this thread -
http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/6718_0/green-building/greenhouses

Here's the link for a basic Gothic Arch:
http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Sunspace/UTEGothicArchGH6298.pdf
 
                                          
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Blue Rock Station in Philo, Ohio has plans for the 1-liter pop bottle greenhouse, among other things.

http://buildprosperityathome.net/2010/11/blue-rock-station-pamphlets/
 
                            
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
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That's a different plan for the pop bottle greenhouse than I had seen, thanks for posting the link.

Now I'm hoping Flaja can get the plans on one of those fancy greenhouses and share them...or come to my place and build one!   
 
                        
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Windows and doors can be recycled into wood framing which can also be recycled materials. I suggest though, that if you have only seen funky sorts of buildings using such things as straw bale that you look a little more widely, there are a lot of gorgeous houses and other buildings built with alternative  methods, many you would know only if you noticed the thickness of the walls.

If money is no object, there is a material which is touted as having excellent light transmission as well as very high insulation value, constructed  out of a material called aerogel.
http://www.cabot-corp.com/Aerogel/Daylighting/What-Is-Aerogel

I have no idea about the environmental cost of producing this stuff, although it apparently is made of the same material as glass is; and it's extremely expensive but given those two caveats this might be the best possibility to building the sort of place you seem to have in mind.
 
Sam Ewbank
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Location: SW MI USA
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[color=blue]
flaja Hatfield wrote:Does anyone have any ideas for using an ecologically sound building method to put up a greenhouse I’d like to have something that resembles London’s Crystal Palace or a palm house at a botanic garden,

You might get some ideas from Auburn University's Rural Studio: http://apps.cadc.auburn.edu/rural-studio/Default.aspx?path=Gallery%2fProjects%2f2000%2fglasschapel%2f

Use of 80 chevy caprice windshields for glass wall construction of the Glass Chapel/Community Center in Mason's Bend AL

Sam[/color]
 
greg patrick
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Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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Two of the best ecological greenhouses I've seen were made entirely from salvaged windows and doors and they looked really nice. The third was made from 2L pop bottles stacked and packed for walls and the roof. The bottles create a double wall effect so they insulate pretty well.

Another super EZ way to make a greenhouse is to take a section of livestock panel and make a hoop, reinforce it with some cross sticks, then cover it in 6mil Husky plastic wrap. The less money and time and effort and driving around you have to do, the more 'green' the project becomes. Kinda like a Prius where the car doesn't use much gas but gave the planet an aneurism building it. If you spend hundreds of hours driving around looking for old windows and doors, then tens of hours working to pay for it all, you've defeated any green karma.

That being said, I made mine from welded 1" square tube. EZ and the whole thing 8x10x10 cost me $200 complete with a sink, door and planting table. The sink and door were salvaged cheap. For siding, acrylic is the best bet; It's the only material that allows UV to enter. Glass and all other plastics block UV which plants need. UV also kills mold and other coodies. Acrylic is expensive though, so only use it on the sunny sides.

Just my 2¢,
-greg
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
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Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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Flaja,

Take a look at this design. You could use similar structural elements but adapt it to a more Victorian style. I don't think you can get away from using lightweight plastic film or polycarbonate panels, unless you sin on the other side and use steel or aluminum frame to hold the weight of reclaimed glass. To get the look you want, glass is going to be time consuming and/or expensive, as well as dangerous to install and maintain, but it is certainly doable.

Can you find an old conservatory and salvage it?
 
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