Monthly Archives: February 2017

Earthship Biotecture: Building the Ultimate Sustainable Home

Self-sufficient houses, designed to offer maximum autonomy to their inhabitants, are appearing throughout the world. Earthship biotecture goes one step further. Its additional ecological advantage? A structure built from recycled materials.

Imagined by the American architect Michael Reynolds in the early 1970s, earthship homes are easily recognizable by their architecture: large south-facing glass windows, earth walls and a partly buried structure. Their main goal is to make the most out of the natural sources of energy surrounding a house. It also aims at putting an end to the endless cycle in which on the one hand, we exhaust the natural resources of our planet while on the other, we produce large quantities of waste.

Living an autonomous lifestyle
Semi-buried, earthships are designed to retain heat. Their large bay windows, inclined to receive as much sunlight as possible in winter, allow for natural sunlight to enter the rooms plentifully. The heat then spreads into the greenhouse and throughout the house, where thermal inertia keeps it stored. The sun and the wind, another powerful and plentiful source of clean energy, can also be used to produce electricity. Solar panels and wind turbines can easily capture the energy needed to supply electrical appliances around the earthship.

The roof an earthship home is inclined to harvest rainwater that will be reused up to four times. A filter system cleans it before it gets into the taps. The pipes then lead it into the greenhouse, to irrigate the plants and steers it to the toilets, from where the “black” water finally exits the home to feed certain garden plants.

As far as food is concerned, although full autonomy is difficult to achieve, some earthship dwellers also raise a few hens and combine greenhouses and vegetable gardens, allowing them to push the ultimate off-grid, self-sustainable lifestyle to the maximum. Anything that can’t be produced in the domestic environment (flour, oil, etc.) must still be obtained by conventional methods.

Turning waste into construction materials

The aim of self-builders of this type of habitat is to use a maximum of natural local materials to minimize resource use. The concept also integrates waste reduction through the recycling of “garbage” into building materials. Many of the materials used in the construction of an earthship come from used products that would otherwise fill up a landfill. The less energy required to turn a found object into a usable building material the better.

Tires filled with compacted earth serve as thick walls that create a lot of thermal mass in the building, keeping the temperature of the house relatively stable. Aluminum cans, stacked on top of each other and surrounded with adobe or cement, make for very good bricks to build interior, non-structural walls. Glass bottles encrusted inside walls bring color and light inside rooms, creating beautiful interiors. While all the objects may be obtained free of charge, they do take time to collect. Other than that, the only major cost is the purchase of large windows and technical systems such as solar panels, wind turbines, pumps, batteries and filters.

Democratizing eco construction

Given the complexity of these systems, specific floor plans are needed. The Reynolds Company, Earthship biotecture, sells them online. Without these plans, an Earthship can’t officially bear this name, since the company has registered the trademark, even though many other constructions are in fact inspired by the earthship model. By the end of 2015, the Reynolds Company launched a mobile application, available for just $10, which provides a guide to building an earthship. Similar initiatives have been launched by the Habite Ta Terre association in France or La Serre du Futur in Quebec.

No need to buy or rent a backhoe loader to build your own home. In principle, anyone should be able to build an earthship. No specific construction skill should be required and the nature of the materials for building an earthship should allow for assembling skills to be learned and mastered in just a few hours. Self-construction sometimes hinders people who are attracted to the concept: without any building knowledge, it can seem like a difficult task to achieve. Also, not everyone is ready to take several years off to build a house. Often, it is a participatory process that allows for the construction of such buildings. For instance, their construction can be completed in just a few weeks with volunteers or an entire community mobilized around the project.

Anything You Need to Know about Professional Duct Cleaning

The HVAC system in your house or workplace actually performs far crucial role than just providing indoor air in certain temperature. The unit prevents the dirt, grime, and dust from circulating through the entire building. This means that the duct system contributes the healthy living environment. The air from the HVAC system circulates trough out the building through the duct system. In fact, the air can circulate through the duct system for multiple times every day. This means that the air which cycle in the building is actually the same air that you breathe. Therefore, you want the air to be as healthy and clean as possible.

Duct cleaning service refers to dust and other contaminants removal in the ductwork. Some people may decide to clean the duct system on their own, but hiring professional cleaning service is way better.

About Duct Cleaning

Professional duct cleaning provides thorough duct system cleaning service. They use the proper equipment such as brushes, blowers, vacuums, and others in order to remove the debris and dust in the HVAC and duct system. Even though it may seem straightforward, but duct cleaning is actually not a chore to do on your own. The professional duct cleaning service is not limited to cleaning only; they also perform an inspection of the duct system. This is important to make sure that the duct system is safe and if there are damages; they will perform repair as well.

When is the right time to have ducts cleaned?

Duct system should be cleaned and serviced on regular basis. However, it is also worth to have them clean after certain situation for example before the weather gets colder because clean duct will improve the quality and efficiency. Other situations which may require professional cleaning includes:

  •    Any sign of visible molds in the system.
  •    Home remodel or renovation. Remodel or renovation can lead to materials, debris, and harmful chemicals released into the air. This includes the smell of lead paint, asbestos, and other significant dust. It is definitely crucial to have the duct system cleaned for the family safety.
  •    Animal intrusion. Animals may create nests or even leave waste in the duct system. Therefore if you see any animal intrusion, it is better to have the duct cleaned professionally.
  •    Signs of allergens and harmful gem. If the family members are often caught cold, flu, or allergies; you can suspect that it is the duct system which needs to be cleaned. This is the sign that the air circulating in the house is no longer safe and healthy.

Benefits of preferring professional duct cleanings service

Improve air quality – duct system and registers which have thick build-up of grime and dust may restrict the air flow from the HVAC system. If the duct system is not cleaned, this means that the HVAC system will have to work harder to cool or heat the house. There are approximately 40 lbs of dirt and dust is created in average-size home every year. This is the same amount of dirt that will circulate to the entire house if the ductwork is not cleaned. Having the duct system cleaned helps improving the air quality because the dirt and grime have removed.

Reduce energy consumption – dirty ductwork will force the HVAC system to work harder to heat and cool the house. Having the system cleaned will help reduce the energy consumption by 10% to 40%. The duct system will work more efficiently since they are not clogged with dirt, dust, and other contaminants.

Reduce irritants and allergens – air ducts sometimes contains harmful micro-organisms and other contaminants such as bacteria, mildew, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and other toxins. Having such contaminants circulating in the house will put the family members in danger of asthma, allergies, and other respiratory disease. Regular duct cleaning provides healthier air and also reduces irritants and allergens.

Cleaner and healthier living environment – Having the duct system professionally cleaned helps prevent the harmful dust to circulate throughout the building. The professional air duct Phoenix helps removing unpleasant odors and smells and provides the cleaner and healthier living environment for the family. There is nothing better than fresh smelling home after having the duct system cleaned.