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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Blending New and Old

Here is the latest photo from the New World! This is the excavation for the cabin foundation. We hear they hit bedrock at 10 inches... this is the north shore, after all. Next will be footings, some runs of insulated concrete block at the edges, insulation underneath, a poured concrete slab (with in-floor heat), and more insulation around the edges.

The Little Dig, with a View

We've engaged Conservation Technologies, a team of energy engineers in Duluth, to work with our builder Chris Norman to optimize energy conservation for our building. The idea is to reach toward a building that is so energy efficient that it could be heated passively -- by the body heat of the occupants! This sort of leading edge house design is hot in Europe, especially in Germany, a cloudy country with much poorer "solar resources" than most of the US. And those inventive Germans are succeeding--designing homes and commercial structures that are so well insulated and well designed that they don't require a furnace! In northern Europe! Click on the newest in our list of links for lots of information on The Passive House.

We're not going to live there year round (at least not at first) and our climate makes such a dream very difficult to achieve... though not impossible.
Conservation Technologies has been working with folks building an off-grid home in northern MN and they've just been awarded the first Passive House certification in the US. (See the second new link on the right, the Isabella House.) With the blue-sky-it push-the-envelope ideas of the number-crunching science guys at Conservation Technologies, the grounded-in-reality experience and wisdom of Chris (who does his own number-crunching, too), and our own special stubborn spin on things, we think we've come up with a great blend of new technology, old wisdom, practicality, aesthetics, and dreams. If nothing else, we have learned LOTS.

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