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January 14, 2010     Lovell Chronicle
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allmiliL  (ilimunnniRmtmmllllmnRmlgl 14 I The Lovell Chronicle I January 14, 2010 www. LovellChronicle.com Swell Dwellings -part three of a series New house utilizes green technology BY BRAD DEVEREAUX Construction is under way on a new home in Deaver that will utilize many green technologies when construction is finished. The core of the home went up in just a few days, and finish work is continu- ing on that section. Construction will con- tinue in phases over the next several sum- mers to complete the house. Construction began in November. Local resident Chris Finley, a green construction enthusiast who has been involved in a vari- ety of construction projects over the last 30 years or so, is building the home with the help of a few friends. His current project and future home will be a culmination of what he's learned over the years, utilizing several differ- ent technologies that will make the house about self-sufficient once it's complete. The two-story home-is completely sealed in a way that might make many tra- ditional builders cringe. But the home is designed that way. It is built out of struc- tural insulated panels consisting of a thick slab of Styrofoam sandwiched between two pieces of plywood. Finley ordered the cus- tom designed home and the materials ar- rived on the jobsite shortly after, ready for Finley and his crew to assemble like a gi- ant, energy efficient 3D puzzle. The walls, roof, and other panels came pre-cut for Finley's design from a Big Sky Insulations factory in Belgrade, Mont. The company specializes in creating the high- efficiency R-Control panels inside a factory. A CNC machine cuts the panels to make a home that goes up in no time with little cutting on the jobsite. This makes for an easy time at the construction site that can be handled by novice carpenters. The panels are super energy efficient and cost effective for the insulation they provide. According to a representative of Big Sky Insulations, the R-Control panels used in Finley's house are the most rec- ognized brand in the world. They provide more insulation when compared with tra- ditional batt insulation. Data supplied by R-Control state that a 4 1/2-inch R-Control panel is 45 percent more thermally efficient than 2x4s with R-13 batt insulation. Panels are available in varying thick- nesses from 4  inches to 12 inches. The thickest panels perform with an R value (insulation rating) of up to 48. Without exterior wall treatments, the structure is truly a "green" house, made of green colored wood.Thewood is green be- cause it is coated with a blend of anti-mold and borat chemicals to protect against ter- mites, fungus and mold. The exterior can be finished with any type of traditional material, like brick or vinyl siding. The panels have other advantages, too, like being completely recyclable or re- usable (the Styrofoam can be shipped back to the plant to be processed into new pan- els). The sealed design requires smaller heating and cooling units. The panels are held together with long screws and are structurally tough when tested against real-world storms and earthquakes. All of these factors add up to a home that is affordable, strong, comfortable and environmentally friendly. The cement slab that serves as the foundation of the house is laced with tubes that will pump a heated glycol solution Chris Finley and a few friends worked for a few days to complete the main part of the home. The panels are labeled and pre-cut for installation. Finley's crew was made up of people with carpentry skills, helping the home "to go up quickly. The system is designed to be easy to put up at the job site. from a boiler throughout the floor, essen- tially turning the slab into a big radiator, Finley said. The floor heats up andretains heat, making the system very efficient. He said the technology is getting to the point where a glycol heated floor system can pay for itself in about 6 years through energy savings. PLANS FOR THE FUTURE The design is simple as the house cur- rently sits, with a downstairs area and a large open second level. Once Finley's vi- sion is complete, the home will have a few other additions that utilize different tech- Chris Finley's home is being built on a country road just outside of Deaver. With the main portion of the house standing, Finley plans to add to the building over the next few years. The paneled section of the home (right) will eventually be knocked out to open the downstairs to a passive solar heated sunroom. ii i ii i i i i i ii i inn i i nologies to make the home even more ef- ficient and self-sustaining. Finley said he will leave the home hooked up to the power grid, but once it's complete, it will probably be just about self-sufficient. The next addition will be a 12-by24'foot passive solar sunroom. Finley will knock out one wall (stick built with 2x4s for this purpose) on the lower level of the house to open the sunroom room to the main liv- ing quarters. The sun will shine in to help heat the slab, lessening the need for the boiler. The top of the house will be outfitted with active solar panels that will add to the electricity bank. Finley said the home's design is a big factor in its efficiency, but he said it is the little things that really make the dif- ference, like using energy-efficient light bulbs. Some of the little things are as simple as a change in habits, he said. Solar curtains, for example, can be installed to help eliminate heat loss at night. The solar curtains are affixed to a track that seals off and insulates the window completely when closed, but one must get into the habit of opening them every morning, Finley said, because if left closed the sun's heat can break the glass of the window. He plans to install solar curtains at a later stage in the project. Another important factor to consider when building a solar house is to think about landscaping. Strategically placed windbreaks can help to conserve heat, but trees that are planted small can be- come a problem 10 years down the road if they block crucial sun from hitting the structure, Finley said. After the passive solar room is in- stalled next summer, Finley plans to build a two-story addition on the east side of the house, with a bedroom down- stairs and a family room above. Photovoltaic solar panels and a small windmill will be installed on the proper- ty to provide power for the well, Finley said. Finley said the problem with solar homes is that they are sometimes too hot in the summer. Finley addresses this problem in his design with a few different i The insulated R-Control panels fit together perfectly, with separate Styrofoam sandwich to link two panels together. The panels are designed for simple installation and great insulation. A bonding agent and long screws hold the structure together. pecs 30,000 780 square feet 2 stories 3 days to build R-48 insulation Features Custom design Closed system Low energy bills Recyclable Easy to buiil00 Cost effectwe materials I ' f Green energy Passive solar Active solar Heated glycol floor Windmill techniques. The slab is not heated in the summer, and naturally keeps the home cool in the summer. Awnings are situ- ated to prevent a lot of sun shining into the home's windows during the summer months. The main section of the home has just a few strategically placed win- dows to allow airflow through the house when it is needed. When you consider all of the technol- ogies working together on this house, it will be a technical and natural wonder, showing off how far green technology has come in recent years. "I've done enough now to know what works and what doesn't," Finley said, adding that he and his friends have been doing different projects with different techniques for years, often getting to- gether to talk about their progress. He said the technology has been around for a long time, but it is becoming more and more efficient as time goes on. Finley said he wants to spread the word that green technologies are becom- ing more efficient and cost-effective, and are a great option for building a new home or other structures. Finley said one of his favorite things about the design is that it will allow him to leave the home for an extended peri- od of time without worrying about pipes freezing or other problems. Finley said he will be able to just shut off the water and leave during the winter, with the active and passive solar heating doing most of the work to keep the inside temperatures in the 40s. His overall vision includes using the property to serve as a learning tool for uni- versity students. Finley envisions shower facilities and platforms with wall tents for visiting students to use. Finley, along with his son, Judson, is involved with programs from Northwest College, the University of Wyoming and Indiana Uni- versity. He said students from Memphis University have also spent time studying in the Big Horn Basin and the school is considering moving its field school from Rapid City, S.D., to the Big Horn Basin. "This project is a perfect opportunity to make that happen," Finley said. I I lit