homes are elegant, hand-crafted homes that utilize natural building
techniques including: timber framing, straw/clay walls, earth
plastering and natural, non-toxic finishes throughout. These handcrafted
buildings utilize holistic design ideals and turns them into reality.
See Ontario's first EcoNest home!
Bring the integrity of nature into your home. Using time honored
building methods, solid wood timbers are hand-crafted and pegged
together. Completely exposed on the interior, the elegant wooden
framework conveys a very real sense of structure, permanence and
beauty. For centuries, timber frame homes have been passed on
with pride, from generation to generation.
Vapour Permeable Walls
Straw/clay walls have been used in Europe for centuries. The EcoNest
innovation is simple: utilizing the same time tested materials,
but creating a 12” thick curtain wall which wraps the timber
framed structure with a monolithic envelope with no thermal bridging.
These light straw/clay walls are a unique combination of insulation
and thermal mass, keeping the interior cozy and warm in winter
and delightfully cool in summer. The insulative qualities “resist”
heat transfer very effectively, while the mass allows for thermal
lag which can offset peak heating and cooling periods.
In conventional construction, a 6 mil poly wrap is applied toward
the interior side of an exterior wall (in our climate). This wrap
typically serves two functions; the first function is as an air
barrier, and the second is as a vapour diffusion retarder (a.k.a.
vapour barrier). This coupling of function leads to much confusion
as to the role of these petro chemical 'wonders'.
Make no mistake; the air barrier is essential for energy efficiency.
And in an EcoNest or other natural homes, this air barrier is
provided with careful detailing of a vapour permeable plaster
such as earth or lime based plasters (NOT cement based stuccos!).
The vapour diffusion retarder is aptly named as it very often
prevents drying of structural or insulative elements within exterior
wall cavities. As they are often installed by some of the lowest
paid members of the crew, the attention to detail is often non-existent,
and as such, small spaces or gaps occur. Because the poly also
acts as an air barrier, the pressure differentials force very
large quantities of moisture through these small openings, where
it is then deposited within the wall cavity. Because the vapor
barrier interferes with the drying of these materials, the safe
“moisture storage capability” of the materials is
often exceeded. In other words they stay wet for long enough that
rot sets in (as well as mould and mildew).
In the long winter months of Canada, this also means that our
first line of defence in flu season, namely our mucus membranes,
are often dried out and desiccated by forced air central heating
systems combined with vapour barriers which retard the addition
of moisture to the indoor environment.
But why all of this fuss over moisture? What if my drugs of choice
are acetaminophen, codeine, and caffeine (over the counter flu
medicine)? Two words: building longevity. It takes a lot of money,
and energy (embodied and otherwise) to build.
If you are going to build, the best value financially and environmentally
is to prorate those expenses over a number of years say…
500 to a 1000 years! This is the known lifespan of structures
built with similar materials in Europe, and there is every reason
to believe that an EcoNest home, coupled with a structural timber
frame, will last just as long!
Now it starts to make sense to pass-on the structure to a family
member, which in turn flies in the face of the whole notion of
“starter home-dream home-retirement home- funeral home”.
One home can do the job of four, while costing the same as a conventional
Light straw/clay walls are ideally suited to plaster because they
are perfectly flat but coarse in texture so that the plasters
adhere to them without needing lathing. Earth plastered walls
are both durable and beautiful. Rich in possibilities of color
and texture, these walls exude a vibrancy found only in nature.
The EcoNest Company
Located in Tesuque, New Mexico (near Santa Fe), the EcoNest Company
was founded by Robert Laporte and Paula Baker-Laporte. Robert
Laporte is a timber framer and natural house building pioneer
and teacher. Paula Baker-Laporte is an architect, baubiologist
and author specializing in healthy and ecological design. Since
1994, Robert and Paula have been co-creating EcoNests - homes
which embody the principles of sustainable building, health and
Joshua Thornton, the sole Ontario representative of the company,
designs and builds the frames. He has also conducted research
for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation on the material
properties of straw and clay, and is also a workshop facilitator,
public speaker, and lifelong student of making things.
In one of our straw/clay workshops, you will build these stunning
walls and learn the variables involved in the selection and mixing
of clay and straw, the building of forms, loading and tamping
of walls, the building science behind the walls, efficient materials
handling and effective teamwork.
Link to EcoNest
Link to Bau-Biologie>>