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August 2007 - [Sustainable Concepts] Wood Alternatives & Construction for Hot-Humid Climates
Sustainable Concepts )
Design Forward Newsletter August 2007, vol. 53
in this issue
  • Wood Alternatives
  • Construction for Hot-Humid Climates
  • Feedback


    Welcome to the August 2007 newsletter from Design Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's features.

    Quote of the Month: "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."
    -Aldo Leopold

    Lisa A. Swan

    Wood Alternatives

    What are the options beyond traditional new wood products? I have outlined some the alternatives and their uses.

    • Recycled Wood / Plastic Composite Lumber - The lumber consists of a 50/50 mix of wood fibers, typically from sawdust, and waste plastic from recycled plastic bags. Some of the benefits of using composite lumber are its low moisture absorption and high resistance to decay, UV rays, and insect damage, and tends to expand and contract less than 100% plastic materials. Applications include low load structural uses, such as decks, floors, fences, railings, landscape timbers, patio furniture, porch columns. Wood composite can be recycled after use.
    • Plastic Lumber - This lumber is made from 100% recovered plastic materials such as post consumer waste, milk jugs, and plastic soda bottles. Plastic lumber does not need painting, sealing, waterproofing, staining, treatment, or maintenance. It also does not splinter, crack, rot or warp and is UV resistant. Applications include decking, fences, flooring, landscaping, patio furniture, lawn and garden products, and picnic tables. 100% plastic lumber can be recycled after use.
    • Reclaimed Wood - Old wood can be recycled into "new" wood products. Recycled wood can be taken from old buildings, homes, or barns that would be demolished. The reclaimed wood is then sent to mills to be made into sawn lumber for flooring, timber frames, architectural trusses, open beam ceilings, exposed headers, millwork, furniture, and moldings.
    • Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) - MDF is a waste-wood product that is made with fine wood fiber. It can be easily milled with all power tools and uses include furniture, shelving, cabinetry, and molding. MDF can be laminated, or veneered or simply painted as a finished product.
    • Particleboard - Particleboard is a waste-wood product that is made by mixing sawdust with adhesives. Although it will not bow or warp like plywood, it can swell and become unstable when exposed to water. It uses are for furniture, underlayment, or substrate for countertop. Particleboard is not a finish material. It must be veneered or laminated.
    • Oriented Strand Board (OSB) - OSB is an engineered wood product that is made with flakes or large chips of wood. The panels are formed from layers or plies glued together with their strands at ninety-degree angles to one another. The cross orientation of the layers adds strength to the panels and makes OSB well-suited for use as a structure board. It is typically used as sheathing or underlayment.

    Article Lisa A. Swan. Photo inhabitat.com

    Construction for Hot-Humid Climates

    Building is a hot-humid climate can be challenging. It is important to control moisture and keep the environment cool. Many areas need to be considered in order to create a design that works for humid areas:

    1. Ventilation is needed for exhausting moisture and pollutants while bringing in fresh air.
    2. HVAC must be properly sized and high efficient. Look for the highest SEER rating.
    3. Ducts should have short runs and placed in conditioned spaces. Use return air ducts in every room for the most balanced temperatures.
    4. Efficient windows help keep the house cooler and reduce ultraviolet lights and properly installed windows reduce water leaks.
    5. Dehumidifier keeps humidity levels comfortable.
    6. Air sealing stops drafts and should be used at all connections to keep contaminants and humidity out.
    7. Insulation should be maximized to keep the conditioned space comfortable and keep energy bills down.
    8. Moisture barrier or vapor barrier to keep humidity, mold, and mildew at bay.
    9. Proper overhangs provide shade and keep water away from the walls where they are most vulnerable.
    10. Conditioned attics or crawlspaces should be used to keep the living space more comfortable.

    Read on find out about a real design that works for a hot-humid climate.

    Article Lisa A. Swan. Picture buildingscience.com


    Design Forward works toward promoting Sustainable Design. If you know of a project that should be featured, please contact us. Let us know why you think it should be featured and give us a basic intro to the project, the sustainable elements and any websites or contact information.

    If you would like to submit a fun and/or entertaining quote about architecture, building, the environment or such, send it in! If it at all possible, include the author.

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