Brian Adams

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since Dec 20, 2009
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Recent posts by Brian Adams

Bradon Wesche wrote:
My bill states I used 675 kWh between 11/23 and 12/28.

My new bill with 100% of my heating coming from the oven says I used 640 kWh between 12/28 and 1/28.  There was basically no change in my usage. 

I'm even more skeptical now about using the oven because I've been keeping half my apartment unheated and still used the same amount of power.  So, for the same price, I can heat the entire apartment with the built in electric forced air heating system.
7 years ago
I live in Texas and this week it finally got really cold (30-35 F) which has lead me to this thread.

I live in a one bedroom apartment that is set up in such a way that if I close the bedroom door, I reduce the air space of my 450 sq ft unit in half to 225 sq ft.  This is an attractive concept to be because I spend 95% of my time at home in the living room area not in my bedroom.  I usually sleep in a hammock set up in my living room.  Closing the bedroom door means I don't want use the central heat (forced air furnace) because I would be heating the bedroom/bathroom half of the apartment.

My solution has been to turn the central heater off completely and turn my oven on to it's lowest setting while I am home: approximatively 100 F.  I don't know enough about how much energy the oven uses.  I do know that my last electric bill, before I switched to the oven, was much too high.  I was using the central heat to warm the whole apartment.  My bill states I used 675 kWh between 11/23 and 12/28.

Am I using less energy with this oven as a heater strategy or should I switch back to central heat?  I'm not attached to one strategy over the other, I just want to use the least amount of energy possible to stay comfy.
8 years ago

The Clam House

This experimental structure is built as a prototype for sustainable techniques using only natural biosphere materials.  This eccentric building represents what Bernard Rudolfski meant by the term 'architecture without architects.'  Yet this building is architecture, it is a realized conceptual experiment in delineation of form and space and it bears the mark of its maker.  A beautiful complex curved roof, the inspiration for the house's name, hints at biomimicry or 3D digital influence yet was probably realized by taking advantage of the natural warping of the thin rafters.  Walls are lime-plastered, straw bale in-filled between the frame, supported on a gravel/concrete trench foundation.  The roof is wooden roofing shingles and the floor is poured earth.  The structure is breathable and well suited to a passive solar heating system.

- Eco Design

The structure above is a design/build project completed in 2001 by students Abelman, Bertilus and Massell who used recycled materials and those found on site.  They won the International Design Resource Awards (IDRA) 2001 Honorable Mention Award, and according to their comments from the IDRA site, "The Clam House is a design/build student project constructed in a working farm in South Carolina. We began the design process by first carefully choosing a sire and studying its ecology, and then deciding on a palette of sustainable materials from which to build. The Calm House is situated on a gently sloping hill above a natural pond. It’s broadest curving face is pointed directly to the south to benefit from passive solar heating and direct light. The materials we chose were generated from an on-site analysis of what was available: straw bales from the farm, fine sand, bamboo from local groves, oak and pine thinned from local stands, highly pigmented clays, recovered railroad ties, salvaged glass, and ample amounts of horse manure…."

In 2001 Nik Bertulis commented, "We are experimenting with a system where recycled carpet is laid underneath our native sod to act as a stabilizer, drainage mat and moisture collector. So far it's working pretty well."

8 years ago
I have spent time in Norway and can vouch for the grass roofs there.  I would guess only 1-2% of the buildings I saw had grass roofs but when compared to the amount I have seen in the US it seemed like they were everywhere.

None of the roofs I saw had trees or even bushes on them, so I imagine the trees in the photo are a result of a maintenance issue.  I also noticed almost all the grass roofs were on barn type structures and not very many houses.

Every time I saw one of these roofs, I would remember all the hoopla back in the states about this new crazy concept.  Clearly, people have been comfortable with this concept for hundreds of years, why try to reinvent the wheel?

"Everything old is new again."
8 years ago
I don't know the answers to those questions.  I would assume they made the structure safe with re-bar or fiberglass reinforcements although I am not an engineer and can't confirm any of that.

But looking at it again, this structure is probably meant for day use only and not as a permanent residence.  There is no kitchen or bathroom. 
8 years ago
They finished it so people can live in it.  More pictures are here:

8 years ago
Here is an example of using straw bales to form a concrete house.  They stack the bales where the interior will be and then cover them with concrete.  Defiantly an alternative form of building but I'm unsure about how permie it is because of the use of concrete.

I love new ideas.
8 years ago

paul wheaton wrote:
I found a new technique today that I really like.

Don't sweat the small stuff Mr. Wheaton.  Leo Babauta of Zen Habits said, "...the minimalist embraces uncopyright, and in doing so gives to the world and hopes that the world will be better for it, at least in a tiny measure."

Babauta is one of the most successful people who actually make a living writing blogs.  He became so entangled in dealing with people using his content he decided to publish his writing free of copyright and not worry about it anymore.  His brief article "Uncopyright and the minimalist mindset" has a much better summary of his reasoning. 

I find the idea inspiring and fun to think about.

8 years ago
Would you be so kind as to share the code?
8 years ago

sixnone wrote:
I read a book (cant remember which one) about using clay as a sealant for underground houses.

I would be very interested in learning more about this if anyone else out there has any information.
8 years ago