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The Natural Building Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to Integrative Design and Construction

Handbook / Manual

By: Jacob Deva Racusin(Author), Ace McArleton(Author)

416 pages, colour photos, includes DVD

Chelsea Green

Paperback | Jun 2012 | #204280 | ISBN-13: 9781603583398
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £59.99 $78/€68 approx

About this book

Natural buildings not only bring satisfaction to their makers and joy to their occupants but also leave the gentlest footprint on the environment. In this complete reference to natural building philosophy, design and technique, Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton take builders through the planning and construction process, offering step-by-step instructions on:

- materials, siting and site analysis
- integrating basic structural considerations into a design
- creating the foundation, wall system, roof and floors
- selecting and making plasters and paints
- strategies for heating/cooling efficiency and moisture management
- planning for acoustics
- navigating budgeting, code compliance and project management
- evaluation options for mechanical and utility systems
- protecting against fire and insects
- integrating structures within landscape, climate and human communities.

The Natural Building Companion offers thorough, up-to-date and advanced installation details and performance characteristics of straw-bale, straw-clay, woodchip-clay and cellulose wall systems, as well as information on earthen and stone wall systems and a variety of framing, roofing, flooring, mechanical systems and finishing options.

Contains a DVD.


Chapter 1: A Brief History of Natural Building in the Northeast, Learning from History, Mainstream Building Materials Today
Chapter 2: Ecology, Global Warming and Climate Change, Addressing Challenges of Toxicity, Moving Forward
Chapter 3: Beyond the Building: Siting and Landscape Design, Fundamentals of Siting, Natural Building and Permaculture
Chapter 4: Soil and Stone: Geology and Mineralogy, Geology, Mineralology: Minerals, Sand, Clay, and Soil; Geology and the Northeast
Chapter 5: Flora and Fauna, Plants, Animals and Animal Products

Chapter 6: Structure and Natural Building, Straw Bale Wall: Non-Load Bearing, Straw Bale Wall: Load Bearing, Mass Walls: Load Bearing, Know What You Don't Know
Chapter 7: Heat and Natural Building, Thermal Performance Strategies for Natural Buildings, Field Testing of Natural Buildings, Common Heat Loss Conditions in Natural Buildings, Beyond the R-Value, The Power of Mass
Chapter 8: Moisture and Natural Building, Moisture Performance Strategies for Natural Buildings, Moisture Control Strategy, Smarter Buildings
Chapter 9: Fire, Insects, and Acoustics, Fire and Natural Buildings, Insects and Natural Buildings, Acoustics and Natural Buildings

Chapter 10: Design, Holistic Design System, Values-Based Design, Integrative Design--Best of All Worlds, Design Modalities, Design Rating Systems
Chapter 11: Before Construction, Budgeting and Finances, Assessing Resources, Codes, Permitting, and Insurance
Chapter 12: Foundations for Natural Buildings, Functions of Foundations, Key Considerations of a Foundation System, Types of Foundation Systems
Chapter 13: Framing for Natural Buildings, Framing with Green Wood, Framing Systems
Chapter 14: Insulative Wall Systems: Straw Bale, Design for Straw Bale Structures (Step 1), Bale Preparation: Air Fins, Stand-aways, Pony Wall/Toe-ups, & Window/Door Framing (Step 2), Bale Construction and Installation (Step 3), Plaster Preparation (Step 4)
Chapter 15: Insulative Wall Systems: Straw-Clay, Woodchip-Clay, and Cellulose, Insulative Walls: an Overview, Constructing Straw Clay Exterior Walls, Constructing Straw Clay Interior Walls, Constructing Woodchip Clay Exterior Walls, Constructing Woodchip Clay Interior Walls, Cellulose-Insulated Walls
Chapter 16: Natural Mass Wall Systems: Earthen and Stone Applications for Mass in Cold Climates, Most Common Mass Wall Typologies, Other Mass Wall Typologies
Chapter 17: Natural Plastering, What Is Plaster?, General Plaster Structure, Plastering Methods
Chapter 18: Roofs for Natural Buildings, Roof Assembly Strategies, Roofing Materials
Chapter 19: Floors for Natural Buildings, Earthen Floors, Other Flooring Options
Chapter 20: Natural Finishes, Choosing the Right Finish, The Anatomy of a Finish, A Sampling of Natural Finish Formulations
Chapter 21: Mechanicals and Utilities for Natural Buildings, Water, Energy: Electricity, Energy: Heat, Ventilation, Air Conditioning Conclusion A Structure Not in Isolation The Places We Live: Challenges and Opportunities in Cities, Towns, Suburbs, and Rural Areas

Call to Action

Appendix A: Suggested Further Reading
Appendix B: Selected Details
Appendix C: Plaster Recipes
Appendix D: Results Summary of Energy Performance of Northeast Straw Bale Buildings Research
Appendix E: Sample Budget


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Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton co-own New Frameworks Natural Building LLC, a company offering services in green remodelling, new construction, consultation and education featuring natural building technologies. They are instructors at educational organisations including Yestermorrow Design/Build School, and are involved with the Natural Building Certificate Program, which Jacob helped develop.

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