14

My understanding is that it is an easy, cheap and pretty way to let light in. It avoids the trouble of putting in a larger square window with a frame and trim and everything. It also can be done with reused materials, which is popular among those who like to build mud houses.


12

There's a growing market for reclaimed/salvaged building materials. Check out Planet Reuse or http://www.build.recycle.net/, or there are probably similar local organizations in your area. I believe Habitat for Humanity tries to use reclaimed material as well; you might look into donating yours. If you're talking DIY projects, I'd say your imagination is ...


12

Wood is close to the most eco-friendly building material around: It's renewable. It's production overall pulls carbon out of the atmosphere. Material tied up in construction is carbon that isn't in the atmosphere. A lower fraction of its cost is transport since the building grade wood is sourced locally when possible. The issues people have with the ...


10

Obviously, the most effective way to avoid generating a lot of waste is not to do the remodeling project, or to do only a small part of it that gets you the most value. Construction generates a lot of waste! Drywall & plaster can be broken up and used as a soil amendment. The older trim and lumber, the better that wood will be. If you have any old ...


9

The answer you are looking for would be contained in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). For an LCA you first want to determine the boundaries that are important to your question. Are you considering cradle to grave (disposal)? Cradle to cradle (recycling after use)? What are the boundaries for recycled source materials if used to make the light bulbs? The ...


9

I think you're right that building your own is likely to be necessary (we're in the same position). What I've discovered in Australia is broadly applicable in the global north, so: An earthship can't be sustainable, and is not designed to be sustainable - they are about being self-contained within a very narrow definition of the term. They rely on free ...


8

Your best bet is already-made second hand furniture, both on environmental grounds and cost. I've been building my own furniture using basic DIY skills for quite a long time and it is rarely cheaper than Ikea-level new stuff. That's mostly because I can't bring myself to build with MDF or other cardboard-like materials, though. Your first choice should ...


8

I suggest that you question some of your assumptions. Difficulties of off-grid. Off-grid is HARD, and generally isn't worth it unless you are a long ways from the power lines. If you are looking at one acre, you probably aren't that far away. Let's look at what goes into off grid: Electricity Grid connected solar means you size your PV to provide about ...


7

I've worked in screen printing using water-based inks, and all we did there was a settling tank and cloth filters. By cloth, I mean we printed t shirts and used scrap t shirts to make the filters - just wrap 3-4 layers of t shirts around a screen printing screen and that's the filter (6-8 layers of cloth, one layer of ~0.5mm mesh). We had effectively a split ...


7

Is the use of plastic contrary to the idea of sustainability entirely? Yes. The general answer to this question is: Avoid plastics whereever you can. Plastic takes several hundred years to rot, it's a first class environmental toxic regarding the high amounts ending up in the nature. Although, plastic can be recycled in some ways most of it is simply ...


7

I understand that this isn't a link to a complete reference, but it is a general list that might get you or others started. The primary sustainable roofing systems I am aware of are: Metal - These can be used to collect rainwater and many are coated in such a way that they do not contaminate your water. The roof can last 50 years, and even then, the metal ...


6

It's uncertain what "sustainable" means in this context. Glues tend not to be recycled or broken down to component parts at end of life. However, glues from renewable resources are available. Flour glue could work reasonably well, but is not waterproof and not overly strong. Blood glues (also called albumen glue) used to be a very major wood-glue and are ...


6

Much depends on what you consider sustainable. The two major sustainability questions concern the energy to produce it, and the resource used to produce it. Additional concerns are the difficulty to recycle/dispose of at end of life, and the costs of both moving the resource to manufacturing point, and moving the product to the use point. AFAIK there is no ...


6

In theory, it would be possible to build a house out of cardboard. But cardboard is probably more useful as a source of recycled fibers than as a construction material. Building a house out of cardboard would effectively take all of that cardboard out of the recycling loop in order to displace other materials such as wood and straw that can be produced ...


6

Insulation can contribute to the sustainability of a home both by being sustainably-sourced and by reducing heating and cooling requirements. The longer the insulation lasts, the greater its contribution to your home's sustainability. It is also important to select insulation that can be installed easily, without tearing out walls and producing unnecessary ...


6

AFAIK the main purpose of stones and pebbles on roofs is: to keep the roofing material in place to protect the roofing material from UV radiation and thus prolonging its lifespan (for that the roof must be completely covered with stones and pebbles) to prevent snow from sliding off a sloped roof (but for this larger stones are often used)


5

Peltier coolers typically use quite a lot of power, and their performance is poor when underpowered (they often don't work at all, or act as heaters). Your second link above is to a cooler that uses 13 Vdc @ 5 Amps = 65Watts. Your 4.5v 18mA cells put out 4.5 * 0.018 = 0.081 Watts each. In theory, if the panels were running at 100% of rated capacity and ...


5

You may like to consider having a roof that reflects as much sunlight as possible back into space, thus increasing the earth's albedo. This probably means having a white roof, but I do remember hearing about special roof paints that are coloured but are designed to reflect as much infrared (heat) radiation as possible, which would be a partial (but likely ...


5

Coconut tree and Bamboo are two alternatives of timber i can think of, if you want wood's characteristics you mentioned. strength acceptable rate of biodegradability you'll worry about how to preserve it instead safe for the environment just chop em up and burn (as fuel) However it only work if the source is near your place (plant them yourself or with ...


5

Concrete is rigid, whereas asphalt is flexible to a certain degree. If ground movement is significant concrete break into awkward slabs while asphalt can be more accommodating of ground movements. Additionally, nature can't do much with concrete. An unutilized asphalt pavement can more easily be absorbed by nature with plants breaking up the asphalt with ...


4

This is a fun question. I am not against plastics in my designs but lets see what we can do to get around this! Wood? I would think that a good hard wood with closely packed grain would be a great building block for grow beds and even the fish tank. If you employed basic boat building skills and adhesives such as a resin you might be "sustainable". You ...


4

If you are in a large city, drywall can be recycled into drywall. Check with your local agency. The grey stuff in drywall is mostly gypsum -- Calcium magnesium sulfate. Yes it can be used as a soil amendment if you have neutral or acidic soils. Read up before you do it. It rototils reasonably easily. Wood: See above. Carpet. Works great upside down as ...


4

Availability in the long term You didn't include in your list a mention of how available copper will be in the future; this matters, for sustainability, because we can't afford to be using it for guttering if we're about to run out of copper ore. It is a very important metal for other purposes, such as electrical components. Wikipedia has a good article on ...


4

Stuffing plastic bottles with other plastic items makes them unsuitable for recycling. In recycling processing centres, plastic items are sorted by type prior to reprocessing into raw material. By filling the bottles with many different types of plastic (PET, HDPE, PVC, LDPE, PP, etc) it makes the sorting task much more difficult/impossible/uneconomic. ...


4

You need to sort it. Dimension lumber can be burned. Can either remove ironware or leave it and separate from ash, or dispose of with ash. Treated lumber (green or brown) landfill. Note that it may not be obvious if it has been weathered. If in use it was in contact with the ground, or if it was installed for wet service (as backer for bathroom tile, say.)...


3

I have been building bed frames, tables, chairs, wine racks, and many other different things out of old pallets. I look for companies that are giving them away and collect as many as I can store. I figure out what I want to build and the design I want and start taking them apart for some projects while others I'll leave whole or cut like I need. The ...


3

If I were to build a Rocket Stove for the long run, then I would go for a mineral. Not just a mineral, but a fire resistant composition such as Grog, also known as fire sand and chamotte1. The reason for me to choose so, stems from the experience the following two YouTube pages had. Bigelow Brook Farm The following screenshot is taken from the last post of ...


3

I believe you are wasting your money. If you already have 60 hectares, you have more land than you can develope with $15,000. Anything vertical costs more money. You need more substantial frameworks. You need ways to get materials to the upper levels. Your employees spend more time on ladders and stools. This additional spending can make sense in a ...


3

Strawbale has established codes in many jurisdictions. Try the SB-R-US group on Yahoo groups for details. Note: 2 story bale is much dicier for standards. Notably: California has a bale code that is accepted in active earthquake zones. CMHC in Canada will loan money on bale houses, and has model codes I've not heard of an earth shelter building that ...


3

A paper on the St Astier website (not independent - they quarry and produce lime building products) gives the following figures in kg CO2/tonne for Natural Hydraulic Lime grade 5 vs. cement: product | CO2 emitted during manufacture | CO2 reabsorbed in setting | net ---------+---------------------------------+---------------------------+------- NHL5 | ...


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