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Anyone know an enviromentally friendly architect and/or contractor?

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upacreek:
I got the green light on starting the build of my house!!!  I have a million ideas that have swirled in my head since childhood, but I need to find an environmentally friendly contractor and/or architect.  I'm not exactly the hippie type, but it seems that the off-grid lifestyle would be best accomplished by green people. 

Does anybody have a recommendation?  I would think that having one would lead to the other.  I've pretty much made up my mind to have it made out of ICF (poured concrete).  My two biggest worries down here are fire and wind.  It's rated safe up to 250 MPH winds and 3 hours of fire. It's got the added benefits of huge heating, cooling, and insurance savings. The roof would be a different story, but one thing at a time.  Has anyone built with this stuff?

I'm building near Calhoun. (NW GA)

RWS:
Watch some youtube videos so you will be able to instruct your contractor.  Very few contractors try new stuff. 

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=radiant+floor+heating+concrete+slab+insulation

Starting with the floor, insulate from earth, install PEX tubing.  Then on the roof install solar water heating.  Then you can run it all from solar electricity. 

I am planning on doing a shower/bath house this way later in the year.

PS:  When I want a concrete contractor, I go talk to the concrete supplier.  They know the people that do the work and may make a recommendation.

Lilburner:
I don't have a contractor recommendation but I was chomping at the bit to blurt out "ICF!" until you said it. Doesn't get much greener.

I'm not going the architect route. I've got hundreds of hours in scouring house plans. Green has a lot to do with window facings, directions of overhangs, etc. Sometimes the lot has a lot to do with it as much as the house. If you really want to go all in, you can be as fancy as angles that let in winter sun but not summer sun.

Insulation, of course. Blow-in foam is the king of R-value, but there are a lot of ripoff artists. Choose your contractor carefully. It's harder to get ripped off on new construction.

Don't know what your budget is, but it doesn't get any "greener" than geothermal. I could NEVER budget for it if I didn't have two dead wells to take advantage of.

I've heard ICF saves up to 70%, and Geothermal saves up to 70%. So I'm thinking I'll have to fabricate some sort of catchment system to collect the dollar bills coming out of the registers.

Not sure if you mean green purely by energy efficiency or also emissions. If the former, the best place for your wood stove is the middle of the downstairs, be it basement or living area, to take advantage of convection to the upper floor.

Let me know what you find for ICF contractors! It's not as popular here as in less moderate areas, so GA isn't exactly littered. Not sure if the same ones would service NWGA and NEGA. I've found one in Athens that looks promising.

Also, sounds like you're ahead of me. I'd love to see the build going up - maybe even lend a hand somehow.

Congratulations and good luck!

nj_m715:
I found this interesting, especially the designing the overhang based on sun angle

upacreek:
Thanks RWS.  I'm looking for a contractor that's well versed in using this stuff already.  I don't want to be his learning curve.  I already have solar on a garage that will supply my energy needs and well water that's just a few yards from where I want to build.  My new dream, as of a couple years ago, is to attach the greenhouse to the south end for heating the house 99% of the time and supplying most of the hot water.  I've been in touch with one ICF supplier.  He's probably the same guy you heard of or talked to, Lilburner - he's in Athens.  He supplies the ICF to all of GA.  He works with a bunch of contractors.  I've had such horrible luck with contractors, that I'm looking for recommendations from people that have actually used them.

As far as radiant heating - what's the longevity of that?  I've heard horror stories of when it fails, you need to rip everything apart to fix it.  What I mean by green is that I can supply the needs for the stuff after the initial purchase - solar, well, wood stove - as opposed to pellet stoves that I LOVE.  Energy efficiency just seems to make sense.  If I'm building from scratch, it seems to make sense to take advantage of things like that overhang (thanks NJ and Lilburner), house direction, passive heat.  I've considered geothermal for cooling the house - I don't think I'll need it much for the winter, if everything else is as good as I hope.  Since it's a freaking furnace down here in the summer, I think cooling the place would make it well worth it even if I'd stay toasty warm in the winter without it.  I'm worried that the solid rock land would be an issue.

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