Going green in a log home (Slideshow)

| by Teena Hammond
Going green in a log home (Slideshow)

A log home is inherently green in many ways, with the end result not only eco-friendly in its actual structure, but in appearance as well.

Estemerwalt Log Homes is a lumber company that also designs and builds log homes, and Beth Reece, marketing director, whose father, Kurt Propst, is the fourth-generation owner of the company, took time out to discuss a few of the elements that makes the company's homes green:

  • Fewer fasteners are needed to build a log walled building. This results in less manufactured metal (high in embodied energy) being used.
  • Between harvest and construction, less energy and labor are consumed in processing logs than in all the components for a conventional home.
  • Conventional homes are typically demolished, while log homes have the potential to be deconstructed or dismantled for reclaimable logs and timbers.
  • Owners of log homes typically spend $150 - $400 less per year on heating and cooling related energy bills as compared to a similarly sized non-log home.
  • In between the logs is a self-insulating system of gasket material and caulking. The logs are measured by thermal mass as opposed to a typical R-factor.

More potential homeowners are asking about green features in homes, Reece explained.

"There's no getting away from it now. People who thought it was just a blip on the radar are finally realizing this is it. People know more about this now. Whereas we'd have to make mention of it ten years ago now people come in completely educated about how they're going to save money and make it more efficient. There's a heightened awareness of it across the board."

And there are many people building smaller homes, around 1,500 square feet compared to previous log homes of 2,500 square feet and larger. "It's a huge trend. We've had people building these palatial log homes who are now saying 'I don't need that space' and creating a much smaller home with the idea of creating it more energy efficient and only using sustainable resources," Reece said.

Estemerwalt uses a green manufacturing process, too. "In drying our lumber one of the greenest things we do that's cost saving and sustainable is we use what's basically a waste product in our sawdust to fuel our kilns to dry our lumber," Reece said.

The kilns that use sawdust replaced fuel-oil kilns. The new kilns were installed in 1996 and since then, the company has saved 1.4 million gallons of fuel oil in drying the lumber.

"Upfront it wasn't great putting the entire system in, but it's been worth it and we've saved a lot and it feels better to know you're not putting a bigger footprint on the environment," she said.

View interior and exterior images of Estemerwalt Log Homes.

Read more about green home designs and plans.

All photos courtesy of Estemerwalt Log Homes.

Topics: Building Green, GREAT GREEN HOMES, Home Design & Plans, Lumber and Structured Panels, Sustainable Products

Teena Hammond
Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.

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