On Tuesday we went on a fun field trip to Tatamagouche to take a tour of a house Rob McLean is building. He gave us a tour of the straw bale home, which is still under construction. The main highlight of course was the straw walls. Straw walls are very easy and quick to build, are a rapidly renewable resource and provide great insulation when straw is applied in large amounts.
Since it is so well insulated, Rob’s house will not need a lot of heating, but when it does, a flat plate solar panel provides hot water heating and some in-floor radiant heating. The home also has an energy efficient fireplace. Other features included a rainwater collection system and highly insulated windows.
The great thing about research is you can find things you do not expect. The day before heading off to Tatamagouche, we came across a green retrofit in Truro at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College called the TREEhouse (Technology for the Responsible use of Energy and the Environment). We emailed the project manager and he agreed to give us a quick peek at the house on our way back from Tatamagouche.
This project, started because of a need for new office space, has evolved into a plan to foster research and showcase passive solar design, a green roof, sophisticated monitoring technology, lots of insulation and a compositing toilet. Since our site visits we have been compiling drafts of our case studies and also researching other buildings to potentially profile.