Green Building Cabin: An Eco-Friendly Construction Experiment
Hammond Brothers partnered with Calvin Cofield of Optimum Build to construct a modern, green, eco-friendly cabin. This isn't your usual cabin in the woods. Calvin, who is an architect by trade, has long dreamed of a building concept that would be strong enough to last a lifetime, energy efficient, and beautifully modern. This cabin is an initial prototype to see his dream become a reality, and the progress is exciting.
The words “eco-friendly” and “green” can have a lot of meanings when it comes to building. With this green cabin experiment, Hammond Brothers is seeking to build a durable, lasting building that is energy efficient. This project is like R & D for builders - at every turn, we are seeking experimental methods to hone our craft and approach, which is easier to do for a smaller-scale project. Here are some of the conscientious choices we have made so far.
Green Building Choice #1: Limited Site Work
The 700-square-foot cabin sits on nine concrete piers and a steel foundation. The foundation leaves the forest floor virtually undisturbed and gives the cabin a treehouse feel. Because we carefully chose the spot, we didn't have to bulldoze the trees in the vicinity. The cabin won't have any drainage issues, and it will be shaded throughout the summer, which will make it more energy-efficient.
Green Building Choice #2: Regionally-Sourced Products
A real novelty of the structure is the use of CLT panels (the acronym stands for cross-laminated timber) for the entire roof deck. CLT is an emerging building product that competes with concrete and steel. Basic wood studs are laid in perpendicular layers and glued together in various thicknesses. Our panels are three-ply, meaning they have three layers of wood for a combined thickness of 4.5 inches. CLT panels can go all the way up to 12-ply for use in multi-story commercial buildings. We chose Smartlam USA because they have a factory in Dothan, Ala., that uses southern yellow pine. It was important to us that the wood be as local as possible. We were thrilled to source this regional product.
Green Building Choice #3: CLT Roof Panels
The roof consists of seven CLT panels that are 7'9" x 24' weighing in at 2200 lbs each! Lifting the panels in such a tight forest was quite difficult because we wanted to continue to preserve the environment as much as possible. In the end, the struggle was worth it.
In just a few hours, we had the entire roof in place, which also acts as the finished face of the exterior soffits and interior ceilings.
No drywall needed.
No soffit material to install.
No special framing to achieve the large soffit overhangs.
Yes, the cost is much higher than traditional framing methods, but there are other benefits, including longevity and structural durability. Smartlam USA manufactured the interior face of the panels with finish grade boards. We plan to match the direction of the wood grain inside with the flooring and paneling on the wall for a "bathed in warm wood" feel when you're inside the cabin.
This project is definitely outside of the normal construction processes that Hammond Brothers are used to, but we are excited to try something different and in the process, to find more sustainable, regionally-sourced products and have a beautiful, modern cabin as an end product.