Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Interviewing Kelly Hart

Monday, June 12th, 2006

I came across this wonderful site that is all about green home building. Green building – if traditional building methods are followed – can be very cheap way to build houses, so this site is of special interest for us back-to-the-nature log home builders, who might be discouraged by the high prices of modern log homes and log cabins.

Kelly Hart has a long history in the field of construction and publishes information on green home building in cooperation with many experts of this field. Mr. Hart was happy to answer few questions, so here they are:

Q: Post and beam log building is mentioned here and there on your site, but always as a mere structural framework. Why Greenhomebuilding doesn’t include log homes as an independent segment?

    A: This was a conscious decision on my part to not promote the use of logs for homes for several reasons. Primarily, I am concerned with the continued depletion of our forests, as expressed on my page about saving our forests. There are circumstances where logs for homes can be harvested sustainably, and I encourage this, but in general this is not the case. Another reason I don’t promote the use of logs is that they really don’t provide very good insulation as a shell for a home, and this is a very important factor in any climate with temperature extremes.

Q: You introduce several methods for greener building. Apart from earthbag building, which are your personal favorites?

    A: Interestingly, one of my favorites is also wood, in the form of cordwood construction. I like this method of building because it uses very small pieces of wood (more or less firewood size) that can be arranged in such a way as to provide a very well-insulated wall. This means that a considerable portion of the tree can be used, and that very small diameter trees that result from thinning a forest can be used. When the cordwood is stacked with masonry or earthen mortar and an interior void for insulation, you end up with a wall that has wonderful thermal properties because the interior masonry acts as thermal mass. An added benefit is that once you build the wall there is no more finish work necessary, either inside or outside, and it is a very durable, low-maintenance system. Building cordwood walls is a technique that is easily learned, requiring little skill.

Q: It is often so that pioneers create future trends by working very hard on their dreams. Do you think that at some point these green home building methods that you introduce on your website, will become popular among commercial constructors and home buyers?

    A: This is already happening, especially with strawbale construction, and to a lesser extent with rammed earth and adobe building. This movement gained momentum in the Southwestern United States and is now finding popularity in other regions of the world.

Q: Many readers of Log Homes Cabin are planning to buy a log home kit as their starting point for owner/builder home. How would you increase the greenness of such a home?

    A: First of all, make sure that the logs for that kit have been harvested sustainably; check with the Forest Stewardship Council about this. Then select a kit that is as compact as it reasonably can be to house your needs…extra space costs more, both economically and ecologically. Choose a design that will heat itself with passive solar, especially if you live where you have cold winters. And get one with the best insulation package possible, especially for the ceiling and roof where most of the heat loss is.

Mr. Hart, thank you for your time. I wish all the best and continue to follow your website for updates.

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