Monday, June 18, 2012


Our paving crew spent much of Saturday installing the concrete pavers for our porches, courtyard, front walk and driveway. The pavers sit on a bed of compacted sand, which establishes the slope for the paving and provides a dense supporting medium to distribute the weight of whatever the pavers are carrying (people, cars, elephants)...

Friday, June 15, 2012


With the construction fence removed today, the transparency of the living/dining room and its relationships to the park and courtyard have become more visible. Here's the covered patio facing the park, seen from the park with the sun setting behind. The rest of the landscape is coming into shape vey quickly.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


The rainwater cistern arrived today. We're using a 3,000-gallon polyethylene tank made by Norwesco, which was sourced by the company that designed and provided our rainwater filtration system, Rainwater Management Systems. The indoor components - a pump and three filters - have already been installed, and the next step is to connect the cistern to our gutters and to the filters.

The tank weighs 404 pounds empty (12 tons when full of water), so wrangling it around the side of the house took the efforts of three steel workers, two truck drivers and one surprisingly limber professor...


Yesterday, our paving company sent a Bobcat operator to grade and prepare the areas that will be paved today and tomorrow. We're using 12"x12" concrete pavers, which will sit on a compacted bed of sand. The Bobcat operator scraped away soil, sloped the front walkway and driveway down to the street, leveled the porch and patio, and then laid a bed of sand in each area.

Monday, June 11, 2012


After a long, sweaty day of moving rock and soil, giving away spare wall panels (thanks, Bill!), working out details for connecting the gutters to the rainwater cistern, filling out LEED paperwork and revising the drawings in anticipation of applying for the certificate of occupancy, I had a chance to indulge in the glorious luxury of transplanting a big basil plant from the garden of our neighbors, Leatrice and Bill. The large planting beds we're building in front of the house will eventually be filled with fruit and vegetable plants, in lieu of a front lawn. Gardening is so hard to describe - at times soothing, compulsive, satisfying and addictive - and our planting beds should provide an ever-changing foil of foliage and flora against the crisp silver finish of the house. I can't wait to start composting...

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Preparing the planting beds gives us a chance to recycle some waste material and see if we can help promote worm growth. Worms fertilize the soil, so we want to give them some habitat and nourishment. We laid a layer of paper on the bottom of the corner planting bed in order to keep the weeds down. The recently ended school year left with with an ample supply of homework and notebooks that should serve this purpose well. On top of the paper, we laid a layer of corrugated cardboard to provide the worms with some habitat...

Friday, June 1, 2012

LED lighting

One of the hardest pieces of the sustainability puzzle for us has been selecting good lighting for the house.  Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs are so common that it's easy to compare their visual quality and energy efficiency, but light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is still so novel that it's hard to find live displays to help us evaluate the different lighting options. It's particularly difficult to find lighting strips (as opposed to individual bulbs) installed as samples. So while everyone knows what a standard 60 watt incandescent bulb looks like, it's very hard to imagine how an 11 watt LED bulb performs, let alone a 5W/ft LED strip light.