id you know that eco-homes existed centuries before people started to think about green living? Some of the technologies used have been invented hundreds or thousands years ago and then have become less popular or even forgotten when everyone started building homes with bricks and concrete. Maybe it’s time to look back and see which of them can be brought to live again to give us healthy lifestyle, to reduce our carbon footprint and energy usage, and often even to reduce the initial investment for building the house.
Very popular in Scandinavia and Russia, these houses start to gain popularity across the rest of the world. They are made of whole tree logs which usually without rendering. The look and feel of the wood influence the design of the entire house and make the interior very cozy.
But the advantages of log homes are not only in the outlook. Wooden logs provide very good insulation which is the reason why these houses are used so much in countries with cold weather. They are more energy efficient than the traditional buildings made of wood-frames or bricks.
The logs for the houses are usually harvested from large forest tracts as part of the forest management strategy and often are dead or drown trees. So if you plan to get such a home you shouldn’t be worried about forests – log homes harm them less than paper publishing for example.
Rammed earth houses
This is really ancient technology. It is now quickly reviving as such houses are strong and hard-wearing, thermally massive and simple to construct. Typically the walls of such a home are made of mixture of sand, gravel and clay.
If you care about your impact on the environment, building a rammed earth home is one of the best options you have – because locally available materials are used, building with them results in very little waste. This also makes them economical provided that the builders know what they are doing. For real enthusiasts there are many guides online so you can even build such home yourself.
Rammed earth houses can be seen in some variations – clay houses, adobe houses and so on. Adobe houses are preferred in hot climates because of their greater thermal mass.
Straw bale house
No, I don’t mean a cabin or hut. People built real houses from straw bales and they look just as good as any other house. Why do they do this? One of the top reasons is energy efficiency. Straw has one of the highest insulation values – builders of such homes claim that they are three times as efficient as conventional framing.
Because straw is very cheap and easily available this reduces the costs of the house. You can’t expect huge savings however because the straw walls represent only about 20% of the total building cost.
One of the disadvantages is that straw walls are rather thick which can “eat” the space out of your home, especially if you have a small building area.
Dome houses are not always as environment-friendly as the other types of houses mentioned above because they can be made of any material. They are not always as affordable either – in fact often a dome house costs more to build compared to a regular wooden-frame or brick and concrete house.
Many of these homes however are build of locally available materials like rammed earth, adobe coils stabilized with cement and so on.
In any case the real advantages of dome houses come after building – the way they are designed allows almost passive cooling and heating due to the way air flows inside.
What you are going to really love in these homes is the interior – it creates wonderful feeling of openness and encloses more space in less surface area.
Recycled tire houses, plastic bottle houses, glass bottle houses
Some people don’t find straw bale houses or dome houses eccentric enough and go further, building some of the following:
- – Recycled tire home. I can see how this is truly ecological and very cheap but it doesn’t at all sound nice for me for living in – unless you hide or decorate the tires really well. The fact however is that such a home offers great insulation especially from cold.
- – Plastic bottles home. Mud filled plastic bottles are extremely cheap and very durable material. Considering the labor factor however such a house can end up more expensive than other types – imagine what is it to fill thousands of bottles with mud!
- – Similarly some people build homes from beer bottles. Eco-friendly, no doubt! The interior of such houses is quite extraordinary as the bottles allow some light to enter the rooms unless bottles are filled. If you choose to fill the bottles with a dark liquid the walls will absorb solar power during the day and give it back in the night.
If you look further on the topic, you may find people building paper houses from “papercrete”, dig homes in the ground or make eco-houses from shipping containers. Sounds like imagination is the only limit.
Would you live in such a house? Have you heard about other types of weird eco-friendly homes?