Building Green in Arkansas

Today I will present my green building project in Arkansas at Florissant Valley campus.  I have presented this information 2 times for Women’s History Month on both the Meramec and Flo Valley campuses.  I have recent pictures from my project for today’s event.  As spring blossoms, so does my enthusiasm to share this building passion of mine.  Getting hands-on experience building has been a dream back to childhood.  My dad is a Civil Engineer, designer and home builder.  For this project, I scribbled on graph paper what I wanted.  I drew many variations wanting interesting design elements.   My dad helped me by drawing my scribbles into Computer Architectural Design (CAD).  I have his copy for sentiment, because the current building morphed while under construction!  I have learned so much about hard labor, team work, and how to make the multitude of decisions being a LIBRA (wishy-washy).   Most rewarding has been watching a dream become real. If you get a chance to see my presentation, you will see my giggly pre-work videos.  Every day was exciting for me.  I feel most proud that I have paid for everything as I worked on it.  I have zero debt.  I will begin my house this fall after I save enough to get the “sticks out of the ground and covered.”  The most challenging aspects have been determining “what is green?”  There are some easy answers, but most decisions are puzzling.  I defined green as lasting 200 years and if deconstructed then, the parts would be gentle to the land or be reused or recycled.  I avoided plastic on light switches yet, plastic is part of the plugs themselves :-(.  I did opt for vinyl windows (longevity and ease for maintenance), but vinyl is not recyclable and is toxic to make.  I opted for corn-based foam insulation which has great R-value (stands for thermal resistance) keeping me warm and cool.  But the process to blow onto the walls and ceiling is highly suffocating until it dries.  And, I could not personally handle that installation.  My lumber was purchased locally (social fairness is part of building green).  Though was not Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved, I learned that the lumber company in Canada did have sustainable harvesting practices.  Plus one for buying locally, plus two for the company’s policy, but minus one for the carbon footprint as it was shipped from Canada!  This is the craziness I faced with many decisions.  Then there was the cost of decisions.  To not buy plastic light and switch covers, I paid almost 9xs more expensive for steel covers.  The plastic were .47 each and the steel were $3.45.  Foam insulation was $2,000 versus fiber glass at about $200.  I bought recycled plastic decking at $1,700. whereas wood decking would have been several hundred dollars.  All in all, I feel better prepared to build my house.  I want to incorporate more green building techniques like using hay bale on the north wall to better block the winter weather.  Stay tuned to more about this amazing process.

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2 responses to “Building Green in Arkansas

  1. Good luck with the home building – It is quite a balancing act to be as sustainable as possible while being affordable. Just trying to understand the environmental effects of each choice can be a challenge.Break a leg with your presentation.

  2. Peggy I really enjoyed your presentation the other day.

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