Golden Bear recycled stone tile
This tile is made from non-toxic “dust” that is a by-product of the mining industry. The color comes from the parent rock, and is integral to the material. It has the hardness of stone, but no pores or microscopic cracks that could stain. The tiles used in this house are a prototype run from Golden Bear Ceramics (GBC). GBC is seeking investment to get the kilns up and running again. Golden Bear Ceramics in Grass Valley, (530) 271-0679
Most of the lumber used in this house is either salvaged or certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as originating in a sustainably managed forest. (A competing certification set-up by the wood-products industry, SFI, offers little real protection for sustainable forest management.) www.FSCus.org FSC lumber is more expensive and some sizes are unavailable in some markets. These realities make it more important to conserve wood in the design (see Advanced Framing: 2×8 studs at 24” spacing).
Some of the primary structural beams in this house are reclaimed from a Vacaville farm and deconstructed Richmond warehouse. These beams are exposed because the wood is old and beautiful, because we want to tie the house to a long history of building in the Bay Area, and because we want to tell the story of re-use. C&K Salvage in Oakland, (510) 569-2070.
The concrete mix design uses 50% slag and fly ash in place of Portland cement, which reduces the energy needed to make the concrete. Additionally, the slag and fly ash have traditionally been considered waste products. The mix achieves 3000 psi compressive strength after 28 days. Star Concrete, San Jose. (408) 947-0669.
The rich, rust-color of the slab comes from a non-toxic mixture of iron sulfate, which is sold in nurseries as fertilizer. Several months after the slab cured, the owners, architects, and team of helpers mopped several coats of iron sulfate solution onto the slab, then scrubbed and rinsed it to achieve the right surface character. This not only gave the owners a sense of putting elbow grease into their own house, but was a lot of fun as well.
The tree post
This madrone tree was thinned from a forest in Sonoma county. The upper half of the tree is incorporated into another house near Healdsburg. Using an un-milled post brings a consciousness about the nature of building materials. The tree also relates to a traditional Japanese idea about deploying conspicuous materials in a manner that preserves and celebrates the inherent beauty of their unspoiled essence.
In an effort to spur North American manufacturers to improve their products, the house features windows and multi-panel doors by Sorpetaler from Germany. These units have thicker, stronger, better-insulating glass, better-insulating frames, and seal airtight, combined with style than any American manufacturer. Sorpetaler windows are easier to install weathertight in any wall thickness because they have a modular aluminum sill and no nail flange. The block frame allows them to be taped airtight to the house.
U-value is the heat flow through a window (lower is better). While typical North American windows have a U-value of about 0.33, the Sorpetaler U-value is less than half, 0.14.