Dual Flush Toilets

One simple way to save water is with a dual flush toilet. This one, the “Persuade” by Kohler, has a standard flush of 1.6 gallons plus an optional flush of 0.8 gallons — cutting water use in half.

To word this delicately, for most of our flushes, the 0.8 gallon option will be adequate. This will save a large amount of water annually. List price for the white one is about $360. Not too bad.

theJADE — coming soon!

I’m making progress on theJADE, our second plan series. This plan will be slightly larger at 1,392 sq ft and have 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. It will be oriented with preferred south to the side, rather than the rear. It will have all of the same sustainability features and options with a few new ones (we’re learning all the time).

Still simple, still trying to change our way of thinking.

sustainability goes beyond houses

Sustainability involves every aspect of our lives. So while our houses are important, we should also realize that saving a sheet of paper here, saves a tree somewhere and reduces how much rainforest gets cut down and that affects the livelihood of the family in South America and on and on. 

The Earth is a closed system — nothing ever truly “goes away” (like garbage and waste). 
One big item is water. Many people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. Not only do our houses affect this (through using dual flush toilets or water-saving faucets), but water saved here can mean clean water somewhere else. 
As Americans, we are blessed with abundance. I came across a website recently that had a powerful message. As we are in this Advent Season, check out the Advent Conspiracy at www.adventconspiracy.org

Merry Christmas!

Feedback and Questions

I’m curious — what are YOUR thoughts on sustainability? What do you think of our blog and our website? What else would you like to see and what would you like to discuss? I’m open to suggestions for topics.

theFERN – view from the back

Many of you asked “so what does the fern look like from the OTHER side?” So here it is. 

You can see the covered patio with optional photovoltaic panels, large south glass for passive solar gain and just a nice patio to sit on and sip iced tea.
Click on the image to enlarge.

additional views of theFERN

I’ve had several requests over the past couple of days saying “I like the front elevation, but what does it look like from the back?”

So, in response to those requests, I’m working on some additional views of theFERN, so you can have a better idea of what it will look like.
Thanks for your input!

simple design

I guess maybe I should have started with the obvious. These plans are simple. There are a few, understated design elements and themes that carry through; just enough “umph” to give them some pizzaz, but not overdone. 

For so many years we’ve overdone. With the global climate and fossil fuel issues, we can no longer live lives of excess. That doesn’t mean we can’t be comfortable or have style, but within the context of simple, sustainable, responsible housing.

sip panel construction

Probably one of the key features of our plans is the use of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). These are four foot wide panels of oriented strand board sandwiching full, solid insulation. They are more expensive, but eliminate studs and several intermediate steps.

They also eliminate the cold-bridge of studs in a typical wall. So, while a standard 2×6 wall will have R21 insulation, the effective insulating value is much less. (R-value is the resistance to heat loss; the bigger the number, the better). A comparable SIP will have a true value of up to R29 in the same thickness. Likewise on the roof, a 12 1/2″ SIP will achieve R58 or so, while a standard ceiling will only get about R38 to R49.
So, we started there on these houses, believing that conservation at the front end will help make the energy measures we do later much more effective.

thank you for your support!

Wow! Your response to our announcement of our plans being ready has been overwhelming.

By popular request, we will be posting some of the sustainable features of our homes in the coming days. Also, feel free to request topics or ideas you’d like to discuss here. And, to the anonymous voice mail on my cell phone: I fixed the link. Thanks.
More later….

sustainable stock plans now available!


Well, the day has finally arrived. I have uploaded the first of our small, sustainable stock plans for sale. theFERN has four variations, from 1,024 to 1,056 square feet (hey, i said “small”)  and with or without a garage or master suite.

These plans are unique in that they are designed as sustainable from the get-go. They are also going to feel much larger than they are. And, we’ve pulled out all the stops on green products and sustainability. You can decide just how far you want to go with green, sustainable features.
Check them out at www.thesimplehouse.com