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Solar and salvaged in grove park: high-efficiency graces a north Asheville neighborhood.

Desiger: Alice Dodson, Weaverville, NO

Builder: Empire Builders, Asheville, NC

Solar Contractor: Sundance Power Systems. Wolf Laurel, NC

Square Footage: 3.000

Construction Type: Alternative Durisol Block from footer to roof with framed interior.

"I wanted to have an energy efficient house that incorporated |renewable energy and would have long-term minimal impact. The choice of green materials was moderate to more expensive, but well worth every penny," says homeowner Bill Chapman of his new Asheville, NC home. The driveway for his house, located on top of a "knoll with views of the Grove Park. was so steep that a rear entry to the house had to be added. Unique in its incorporation of solar technologies and the way the exterior color of the house blends into the landscape, this house stands out in a traditional north Asheville neighborhood. Bill chose the architect, Alice Dodson, based upon her environmentally conscious approach towards architecture, building, and site design. The existing house at the site was salvaged and materials from it, like the steel beams, were used to build the new house. The choice was made to tear down the existing house because it was not properly insulated and would therefore be inefficient to heat.

Being that Bill's main concern was the energy efficiency of the house, he chose to build with energy conserving materials and incorporate an active solar heating system. While he is not off the grid entirely, the house is highly efficient and does have very low electric utilities. In fact, the domestic hot water/ radiant floor heating system, a solar electric (PV) system, provides an average of 160,000 BTU per day, with backup provided by a 96 percent efficient boiler.

What is Green Building?

This umbrella term encompasses the design, the construction, and the materials a home is built out of. A green built home generally is energy efficient, has low toxicity materials, utilizes solar energy, has little impact on the surrounding landscape, and is environmentally friendly.

Top Green Points:

Effidency: Active solar hot water/radiant floor heating system, Durisol block construction (composed of mineralized wood chips), offering high R value, smaller square footage, passive solar design, with heat absorbed by mineral wool insulation on west, east, and south

Low Toxicity: Durisol Masonry building materials with no toxic components

Environmental: Smaller square footage, colors blend with natural landscape

Why Build with Durisol?

Masonry building materials provide great benefits when designing a green building. Their thermal mass is of great benefit in stabilizing temperature, thereby conserving energy. The acting R-Value of Durisol (R30-R40) is approximately double that of standard stud wall construction. In addition, Durisol does not contain toxic material components.

Durisol wall form systems are made of mineralized woodchips mixed with cement and pressed into a wall form. Mineralization prevents decay and makes the wall system fire resistant. For extra insulation, mineral wool is inserted into the wall system. The wool soaks up the heat, radiating it slowly back into the house. After the blocks are dry stacked, the wall form is filled with reinforced concrete.

The walls are eight to twelve inches thick and can be finished with stucco, plaster, or any other type of siding. Durisol has been used in Canada and Europe for the past thirty to forty years.

What is Aerated Autoclaved Concrete?

Aerated Autoclaved concrete, used at a different residence designed by Dodson, is another form of alternative building material. AAC is a type of masonry wall system produced by several manufacturers in the US. This system originated in Germany as Hebel block, and has been used in Europe for fifty to sixty years. This is a whole house building system, with interior and exterior wall blocks, pre-cast headers beams, and floor panels. The wall blocks are composed of limestone, cement, and sand. They are autoclaved, making them solid, structurally sound, and insulating. The active R-value of masonry walls, Durisol, and AAC is double that of standard stud wall construction. These types of masonry wall systems do not contain toxic material components.

Sundance Power Systems is the largest provider of renewable energy systems in Western North Carolina and offers design and installation of solar-hydro-wind electric systems, solar hot water/heating, and radiant floor systems. You can contact Sundance at 828-689-2080 or on the web at www.

Scott Pillar at Empire Building can be reached at Alice Dodson Architect, PA has provided sustainable and solar custom residential design since 1990. Contact her at 828-645-9326 or alicedodson@charter. net and check out her website
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Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Apr 1, 2006
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