This pastoral winter wood is the future site of the North Woods Joinery post and beam model home. The view shows Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest mountain, to the left, Nebraska notch and Bolton Mountain, of ski area fame, to the right.
From the outset, the NWJ model home was designed to have a low environmental impact, to be exceptionally energy efficient, and to be built as an example of 'Green Construction.'
This site was chosen because of beautiful future views, including a 40 mile vista of Vermont's Green Mountains to the south. In addition to the views, the house was carefully arranged to take advantage of passive solar gain.
- The home was designed with the 'long axis' facing almost due south into the view to capture maximum light and heat
- The north side of the home site is a steep hill that is fully wooded with evergreens to block wind and winter heat loss
- The home site itself is wooded with maple, oak, beech, and a few other species. This deciduous forest (which looses all the leaves in October and grows them back in May) will allow maximum sunlight and heating in the winter, and shade the home in the summer to provide 'passive cooling.'
- We were particularly interested in the presence of the red oak trees as an indicator of a unique warmer microclimate. The geography of the site is a south facing bowl. Normally, red oaks don't grow at the 1200 ft elevation of the home site here in Vermont. However, this site, and several others like it near the mountain ridge seemed to have a warmer microclimate (hence the red oaks), and offered a special opportunity to save energy over the lifetime of the home.
Sometimes 'Building Green' starts just as simply as spending time on the land, watching the precession of the sun, and considering all of the geographic, geologic, and ecological elements of the site.
Site work began in mid-summer with the construction of a new drive past an existing small cottage that had apple trees. We were able to keep the apples trees, as well as an old stone wall to the left. The land was a 19th century sheep farm, so the forest is new growth and has many old stone walls.
We were able to use an existing logging road as the base of the driveway to minimize site impact and costs.
Well this certainly doesn't seem to minimize site impact! But it actually does since we removed the trees and excavated only in the footprint of the house, and a small surrounding area. Since the house site was on the south side of a ridge, the site had glacial till (clay, silt, sand, rocks and boulders) scraped in place by the last glacier and left behind when the glacier melted.
Check back often as we walk you through the building of the
North Woods Joinery model home!