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The Natural House: A Complete Guide to Healthy, Energy-Efficient, Environmental Homesby Daniel D Chiras
Synopses & Reviews
In the early 1990s, before Chelsea Green began publishing an influential series of books about building techniques that combine traditional artistry with innovative technology, people were still asking a question that now sounds surprising: "Is it really possible to build a house that is economical, energy-independent, gentle on your health, nourishing to the soul, and kind to the environment?"
Now that books such as The Independent Home and The Straw Bale House have sold tens of thousands of copies, that question is much easier to answer. Gracious, comfortable, and ecologically benign homes are being built all across America. But many people (including potential homeowners, professional contractors, and architects) are intrigued by solar techniques and natural materials, yet lack an overview introducing the basic choices now available.
The Natural House addresses that need with style and substance.
This exciting new book, written by a veteran author who himself lives in a straw-bale and rammed-tire home, takes the reader on a tour of fourteen natural building methods, including straw bale, rammed earth, cordwood, adobe, earthbags, papercrete, Earthships, and more. You'll learn how these homes are built, how much they cost, and the pros and cons of each. A resource guide at the end of every chapter offers a wealth of information.
With a writing style that is clear, understandable, at times humorous, and fun to read, the author shows how we can gain energy independence and dramatically reduce our environmental impact through passive heating and cooling techniques, solar electricity, wind power, and micro-hydropower. Chiras also explains safe, economical ways of acquiring clean drinking water and treating wastewater, and discusses affordable green building products.
While Chiras is an advocate of natural building, he takes a careful look at the "romance" of natural building techniques and alerts readers to avoidable pitfalls, offering detailed practical advice that could save you tens of thousands of dollars, whether you're buying a natural home, building one yourself or renovating an existing structure, or considering hiring a contractor to build for you.
"The Natural House covers alternative building techniques, energy, and sustainability like no other book — you'd need a library and a roomful of builders to match the wisdom in these pages." Michael Potts, Author, The New Independent Home
"The most comprehensive and most useful introduction to natural building systems and practices available. The emphasis is for the owner-builder, but there is much here that professional designers and builders will also find useful." Alex Wilson, Executive Editor and Publisher, Environmental Building News
"A complete and clear guide to choosing environmentally sound building techniques and energy systems for your new home. The advice on green building materials and what you need to know before starting your dream home are indispensable." Sim Van der Ryn, Architect and Author, Ecological Design
"With more open space being filled up with houses made of foam and formaldehyde that are poorly designed, energy inefficient, and uncomfortable to occupy, the timing for The Natural House is perfect. Here is a thorough, commonsense, nonthreatening compendium of natural alternatives that all conventional home builders ought to incorporate into their programs immediately." Kingsley Hammet, Publisher Designer/Builder Magazine
"This book is a much needed, unbiased encyclopedia of sustainability that will put wind in the sails of our future." Michael Reynolds, Biotect and Earthship inventor
"Dan Chiras supplies a wonderful...background to an issue that should concern us all by giving us an organized display of alternatives." Pliny Fisk III, Director, Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems
"The Natural House comes at a perfect time. Interest in alternative building methods, environmentally friendly, nontoxic materials and energy efficiency is rising, but for the consumer/layperson there has been nothing that helps compare and contrast these methods and materials. The comparative pros and cons are extremely valuable." George Kiskaddon, Owner, Builder's Booksource
Book News Annotation:
This sourcebook examines the options for building a house that is economical, energy-efficient, nontoxic, kind to the environment, and pleasurable to inhabit. Explores the pros and cons of 14 natural building methods, including straw bale, rammed earth, cob, cordwood, adobe, earthbags, papercrete, earthships, and others, all well- illustrated in b&w.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This sourcebook examines the options for building a house that is economical, energy-efficient, nontoxic, kind to the environment, and pleasurable to inhabit. Explores the pros and cons of 14 natural building methods, including straw bale, rammed earth, cob, cordwood, adobe, earthbags, papercrete, e
Permaculture is a verbal marriage of "permanent" and "agriculture." Australian Bill Mollison pioneered its development. Key features include:
Now, picture your backyard as one incredibly lush garden, filled with edible flowers, bursting with fruit and berries, and carpeted with scented herbs and tangy salad greens. The visual impact is of Monet's palette, a wash of color, texture, and hue. But this is no still life. The flowers nurture endangered pollinators. Bright-featured songbirds feed on abundant berries and gather twigs for their nests.
The plants themselves are grouped in natural communities, where each species plays a role in building soil, deterring pests, storing nutrients, and luring beneficial insects. And finally, you--good ol' homo sapiens--are an integral part of the scene. Your garden tools are resting against a nearby tree, and have a slight patina of rust, because this garden requires so little maintenance. You recline into a hammock to admire your work. You have created a garden paradise.
This is no dream, but rather an ecological garden, which takes the principles of permaculture and applies them on a home-scale. There is nothing technical, intrusive, secretive, or expensive about this form of gardening. All that is required is some botanical knowledge (which is in this book) and a mindset that defines a backyard paradise as something other than a carpet of grass fed by MiracleGro.
This exciting new book takes readers on a tour of 13 natural building methods, including straw bale, rammed earth, cordwood, adobe, earthbags, papercrete, Earthships, and more. Readers can learn how these homes are built, how much they cost, and the pros and cons of each. Includes a resource guide at the end of each chapter. Illustrations and photos.
About the Author
Dan Chiras holds a Ph.D. in biology and teaches courses on sustainability at the University of Denver and University of Colorado. He has published five college and high school textbooks as well as books for general audiences. Chiras is an avid musician, organic gardener, river runner, and bicyclist, who lives with his two sons in a passive solar/solar electric home in Evergreen, Colorado. He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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