062 - Going Glean

Peter Manchester

New Brunswick, Canada


It is not intended to be a pun. It is a very effective way to save resources, help carbon sequestration, and keep the environmental footprint as small as possible. One of the principles of architecture is to build to the site, as the location dictates the aesthetics and materials. This should not be restricted to the immediate footprint and its surroundings, but to local communities and what can be recycled from them into that structure. All over the world, in all economies, people build with what is locally available, but the poorer ones build more with what can be recycled or re-configured. We don’t see this in our locale because it is considered a DIY approach. It is however the most responsible.

Windows, flooring, roofing, foundation, and more can be found in the second hand market. Much of it very good shape and still viable for decades. It is a terrible reality that tons of structurally sound materials are discarded daily and end up in landfills. This can change, and this can be an example to all. With that in mind, my project involves some hunting and gathering for online resources. (In this region, I have had good results with )

Within the guidelines of this competition a proposal has to fall into the dictates of justifying materials costs. There is some ambiguity to seeking out what is available, as it will certainly change outcomes. In most situations a design is submitted, and it remains sacrosanct. When one begins looking for what is available, it becomes an ongoing process with no absolute restraints with materials. A design can still be held true to its form, it is some of the structure and components that might vary.

Lumber can be problematic when recycling. Removing nails, de constructing etc. make it often not viable (aside from timber frame beams). There are raw materials on site however with a portable mill much could be produced on site. There are also local small-scale wood mills in the area. Good silviculture practices can yield enough wood for this project. I have priced market value lumber as a backup and comparison. However, labor costs were not stipulated. This leaves open ended what can be asked of the building crew.

I have suggested cellulose insulation as it is almost entirely recycled materials.

I would offer my experience in finding materials in the second hand market to gathering what is needed to complete this project.


Choice of materials

Keeping the footprint small.
This is achievable by essentially looking backwards, way back. Build with what is locally available and sustainable. In an arid climate it would be adobe bricks, in a tropical setting it would be daubed walls and thatch roof. In the North, wood is our most abundant resource. It is in our own back yard. The remaining component is reused materials. Too often, building material goes to the dump. Much can be reused, lasting for centuries. (I would group ashfalt roofing materials, mildewed insulation, UV Foam etc. as not suitable.) I encourage the use of used materials, if they can be located within a viable distance and are structurally acceptable. In essence, don’t get locked down on absolutes, try and make recycled materials work in the overall design. For example, if used metal roofing can be located at a reasonable price (well below new pricing), by all means substitute it for the shingle roof.

Local Wood
New Brunswick has a long legacy of providing the world with lumber and lumber products. If there is one thing there is in abundance, it’s wood. The location of the cabin, at the proposed Rural Innovation Campus, would be able to provide most of the lumber for construction and perhaps even some if not all of the shingles. I have proposed eastern white cedar for the shingles and pine for the rafters, studs etc. There are portable mills that can be brought on site or wood could be brought to a small local wood mill for processing. Shingles require more highly specialized machines (of course not forgetting the more time consuming hand split method) and in this case it might be more economical to purchase the shingles from a local source and not fabricating on site.

I have decided to include plywood sheeting for the roof and exterior walls. Rain, snow and humidity are ceaseless in their wear on materials. Historically buildings were constructed without these materials, but air flow, leaks, rotting wood and draughts were also widely found in older cabins. In this light I have also called for a synthetic underlay between the roof sheeting and the shingles.

Buying second-hand
In the past, I constructed an entire 22 x 34 foot post and beam mostly from the second-hand market. This included windows, kitchen, flooring, plumbing fixtures, lighting, doors etc. Of course it is impossible to speculate on what will be available at the time of building, but rest assured, something will be! The recycled building materials market is largely ignored aside from the DIY builder. It is time that we consider what goes into a building with what is already available and manufactured. Recycling materials uses no additional energy aside from manpower. It saves our wild areas from becoming landfills.

Using technology from Jaza.
There have been several forays into bringing solar power to the CFI projects in Pemba. Its current manifestation is under the working name Jaza. This included personnel from CFI. I think it would be a good idea to see how this technology works in the sub boreal forest of NB and install it at the cabin.

It is time the older version of sash windows with removable storm windows and screens were re-examined. I believe them to be viable and effective. The glass from these can be recycled (as opposed to thermal glass) and repairs can be easily made. As well, there is never a fogging problem, if made well the R-Values are almost equal and these can be made locally from local white pine.

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