Friday, January 28, 2011

Another Important Piece of the Puzzle

Another cold, windy, snowy day as these intrepid builders put the finishing touches on our roof.

Silver Birch Builders, Inc. is a remodeling and new construction company that strives to help people achieve quality, sustainable homes and businesses that minimize environmental impact, are cost effective and maximize energy efficiency and comfort. As a general contractor, Evan Faltesek's goal is to facilitate the many decisions involved in the building process to make the experience a smooth process for the client. Silver Birch Builders is knowledgeable and experienced in advanced building techniques for energy efficiency.

The crew at Silver Birch Builders, Inc. are both experienced and highly skilled. The four skilled carpenters have close to 50 years of building experience between them. The crew takes pride in their craft and they share their love of the northwoods with their clients. Customer satisfaction and building for durability for the long term are top priorities.

Not only are the crew from Silver Birch great builders but...... they are also some of  Ely's most eligible bachelors. So ladies, I highly recommend checking these guys out.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blurb about our Architectural designers and our design


I wanted to provide information about our Architectural team as they have been crucial to our project. It is a bit long but I believe that what they have to offer is of benefit to anyone thinking of building a green building. They have been incredibly helpful and full of passion as we work together to make this happen. We highly recommend them to anyone who is planning to build a green building whether it be for personal use or commercial.

About Us
Rachel Wagner and Doug Zaun are the owners and principals of Wagner Zaun Architecture, located in downtown Duluth, MN.  Together they nurture a business and a philosophy with a commitment to client service, inspired design, community involvement, sustainability, and environmental stewardship.
Doug Zaun                                                                                   
Rachel Wagner 

About our Work
Services include architecture, research, and consulting; utilizing a creative and communicative process, and emphasizing environmentally preferable practices and materials. The standard for all work is based on the conviction that good design supports communities and enhances both the built and natural environment.  Our integrated approach defines sustainable design as that which balances the needs of individuals and communities, conserves resources, adapts over time, creates beauty, provides comfort, and endures.

The most sustainable approach in architecture is to make buildings habitable with less energy input from fossil fuel sources. We typically strive to design a building to use half or less energy than would a typical building of the type.

Placing energy use as the highest priority does not mean that other elements associated with green design are not significant or important. In general, a green approach will emphasize the use of materials, assemblies, and systems that are durable, easy to maintain, and are not associated with health risks to occupants, installers, or the general public. In addition, the very design of the space can contribute to the sustainability of the structure.

About the Design of the Adventure Inn

The best design solution often comes when the process includes a vision, a few constraints and the opportunity to explore the unconventional. The Adventure Inn offered all three conditions, first defined by the Owners. We came later, and both process and solutions unfolded as we defined and developed the vision, the constraints, and the unconventional.

The Vision
  • A building that reflects the personality of its owners, with a feeling evoking the practicality and warmth of a farm kitchen
  • A simple, pleasing place where guests feel comfortable and welcome
  • A building that makes use of the sun’s warmth and light, evident both inside and out
  • Design, construction, and operation that signify environmental stewardship

The Constraints
·         Site limitations: property size, slope, topography, existing layout
·         Budget
·         A specific timeframe for construction

The Unconventional
·         A building form guided by a design for roof-mounted solar thermal collectors
·         Porch and balcony to encourage outside time and interaction with neighbors
·         Sleeping rooms all face east to welcome morning light and face the quieter street
·         A super-insulated building enclosure: extra insulation under the slab, in the SIP (structural insulated panel) walls, and in the attic
·         Insulated fiberglass window frames with triple pane glass
·         High performance ventilation system for energy efficiency and indoor air quality
·         Quiet, low energy radiant heating
·         As much as half the building’s hot water, and some heating, provided by the renewable energy of the sun
·         High efficiency air conditioning from a heat pump system
·         Space for flowers, owing to the green thumb of the owner

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Adventure Inn's trusses are up!

Yes!! It is January and we have between 3-4' of snow in the forest and piles of snow in town that are as big as houses, but our intrepid, hardy crew from Silver-Birch Construction managed to place all of our trusses on top of our new building without mishap. Single digit temps didn't phase them and in spite of the fact that cars would slow down and watch, they managed to keep those smiles on their faces. (or were they frozen there?) What made our roof so difficult is that we have 2 pitches and 2 roofs. The front roof faces the south and the pitch is steeper to accommodate the suns rays to the best advantage. The entire southern slope will be outfitted with Flat Plate Solar Thermal collectors this spring. These collectors are made right here in Minnesota.
The back roof has a more gentle incline and will be outfitted with rain gutters to collect rain water to be stored for use in the flower gardens in the summer. When the roof is enclosed and weather-proofed, we will be blowing in enough cellulose insulation to give the roof a R rating of 70! If you look closely, you will notice the house wrap on parts of the building already.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Honeymooning at the Leaning Cedar Tree Cabin in January

Most couples who plan a honeymoon in January will go some place warm and tropical. However, the Leaning Cedar Tree Cabin is the choice for an adventurous couple who are spending their honeymoon here in January. Our cabin is cozy with a wood stove to keep them warm and snuggling under the down blankets at night will add to their comfort. The hike to the outhouse might be a bit chilly, but the sauna will make up for that. The snow is perfect for snow shoeing and skiing the BWCA right now. Remote it is as they are probably the only humans for miles right now (unless a dog sled or two cruise by)
wolves howl at night and the snow tells tales of critters unseen but left tracks behind. And silence. A perfect place to celebrate a beginning of a life long partnership.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Adventure Inn's R-40 Walls

Beginning in December, our SIP (Structural Insulated Panels) arrived from S. Dakota and our building crew began to put up the building. A bit like building with Legos. Each piece was numbered so the builders knew where each panel went. These panels are 10" thick and have a R value of 40. After the building is up, it is then wrapped with a polyerythane product to make the shell airtight. We are also installing triple paned windows. All guests windows will be facing east so no hot afternoon sun will be able in heat the rooms in the summer. In the winter, the building will be so insulated and airtight that we have a private joke that it will take 2 candles to heat each room. We want to conserve the energy needed to heat the building, but also to keep the rooms cooler in the summer when we are the busiest.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Adventure Inn's New building!


Welcome to the Adventure Inn blog. It has taken awhile to get going…but we are here now. We have begun our big project and can’t wait to share with all of you the process of building a solar thermal, super insulated, energy efficient addition.  Our goal was to replace the 2 older buildings with a new building that will help us reduce our energy usage by 50%.
We received a CERTS grant last year to help with the costs of our design and we have hired one ov Minnesota’s foremost green architects. Rachel Wagner of  Wagner-Zaun Architects in Duluth. Both she and Doug Zaun had many challenges to fit a new building on our small lot. We have open skies to the south which made it a perfect fit for our solar thermal. We also wanted to incorporate more green space for our guests and also to help with water run off.
We began the tear down the end of October. We Free-cycled as much of the old office building before the tear down. It was amazing the number of Ely folk who showed up and found uses of parts of our building.
Tear down and preparation went fast and soon we were ready to pour concrete. Our footings and the bottom of our concrete slab were insulated with 6" of strofoam. The slad had wirsbo piping stapled to the insulation before the concrete slab was poured. The snow stayed away until the final pour. For once we were happy that the fall was warm and the snow came late. Our wirsbo piping will be connected to our solar thermal so in the colder months we should be able to heat the building using the hot water created by the sun.