What better way to mark the 100th anniversary of the USDA Forest Service than by building a house that celebrates sustainability? The 1,200-square-foot Sustainable Resource House was built on the National Mall in honor of the organization's centennial and as part of the Smithsonian Institution's Folklife Festival.
Showcasing environmentally responsible products from framing lumber to siding to windows, the house demonstrates energy-efficient products and resources that may soon become the standard in green living ( www.sustainableresourcehouse.org).
Several groups came together to sponsor and build the project, including the Structured Insulated Panel Association (SIPA), the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, the Southern Pine Council, and APA–The Engineered Wood Association. All products in the initial construction of the house were chosen for their energy efficiency and sustainability, with a focus on wood.
The house was taken down at the end of the festival and transported to Asheville, N.C., where it will be donated to Haywood County's Habitat for Humanity.
Engineered posts and beams, and structural insulated panels (SIPs) were used for the framing. The 5½-inch SIPs have an R-value of 26, according to Al Cobb of PanelWrights, the Shenandoah Junction, W. Va., firm that assembled the system.
Naturally, a home built in honor of the Forest Service must use sustainable wood products. SIPA points out that the OSB used in the SIPs is produced from small trees that can be sustainably harvested. John Murphy of Murphy Plywood in Sutherlin, Ore., who spoke at the opening event in July, pointed out that OSB, laminated veneer lumber, and I-joists can be made from new, fast-growing trees rather than old-growth forests.
The windows chosen for the house also contribute to energy savings. Andersen provided its 200 Series Tilt-Wash windows with low-E glass. These promise reduced heat loss and gain as well as reduced energy costs in both heating and cooling seasons, says Mark Mikkelson, Andersen's code, regulatory, and technical marketing manager.
Metal shingles with reflective coating will be added to the roof once the house is placed in its final location.
The family of six moving into the house will enjoy lower energy bills as a result of its smart planning and construction. The Haywood chapter of Habitat for Humanity receives grants to build houses that meet Energy Star qualifications, says the chapter's executive director Marnette Colborne. But the Sustainable Resource House promises to be the most efficient yet. “It was amazing what they said [the energy] would cost,” Colborne reports. “Originally, they were saying $25 to $30 a month. The final estimate was $123 a year.” Of course, that estimate carries a “results not typical” caveat. But the Sustainable Resource House sets a good example. Incorporating even a few sustainable or energy-efficient products in a building project can help save money and resources — a worthy goal for both building and living.