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7/19/11

Seeing Stars In The Passive Solar Prefab Home!

We were not at the zero energy prefab home.
We were on grid, not off, at my parent's, on the Chesapeake Bay.


The recovering hiatus after our crazy plumbing and cistern-fixing weekend in the zero energy passive solar prefab continues.  But we were not idle: In the meantime we picked our backyard peaches and made peach jam with the H's. And peach salsa. And peach yogurt. And peach ice cream... not at the off grid prefab home.



Then, with the H's, we headed down to the Bay.
I even brought my pressure canner and kept on canning. We all kept cooking. I took along some of the elderberry jam to serve with venison. It was divine. I will be planting many more elderberry bushes on the land this fall.



I started thinking about the prefab... Next Up? Finishing interior walls... lighting... and I started to see stars.

Two ideas: One, over the "reading area" where the cocktail table is grouped with the bookcase and chairs:
LED lights hanging sparsely, in a modern industrial way, from the ceiling at different levels, so that, during the day, they're clean and discreet; at night, create the illusion of stars.

The second, for the Woods Room (the third, east bedroom): Tack up the LED Christmas lights tight against the ceiling, add one large round, yet flat, LED light, then cover the ceiling with light fabric: to, at night, create the sky; during the day, a flat, discrete panel of color.

I was fortunate to bend the ear of New York City and Paris's renowned lighting designer, James Bedell about the reading area:
"So are you looking to create this star-field effect with singular LEDs on strands or with LED A-lamps hanging down?

You mentioned that you already found the bulbs...so if you can send me a photo of the box or a link to the spec that would help.

As for creating the star effect...it depends on how literal you're looking to be. On a few projects I've hung A-lamps (light bulbs) at varying heights using simple black zip cord connected to a junction box in the ceiling. That creates more of a classic 20's feel. For a realistic star field effect you might want to consider a smaller source. 
Often for specialized LED effects it's best to go right to the component manufacturer. For instance...check out... http://www.vs-optoelectronic.com/eng/ "
Thanks for the great suggestions, James Bedell!

While cooking like crazy at the bay, even in this heat, there was a moment where I set aside broth and bone for the freezer and thought, "Oh, this is going to be SO DELICIOUS in a pot of beans on the wood cook stove this fall!" I may wander Virginia, but my mind never leaves the cozy prefab...

Here's some pictures from our last passive solar prefab house visit when we were finishing up our plumbing deadline:


I had a great conversation with a potential prefab house kit purchaser, a native American, who is interested in taking one of our prefab house kits off grid on his American Indian land. We discussed at length the cultural shifts that need to occur with "the younger people" to be sustainable- and the idea of laying out a project on the same 100 acres instead of 1 house plus 1 acre, but to cluster the homes together, to have shared community spaces and buildings, to foster community while preserving wildlife...

And thinking "differently" - embracing behavior which has, before this century, been normal, and still is, over the world.

Passive solar prefab at work,
without utilizing air conditioning.

For example, think air conditioning:
With summer, everyone keeps asking us about the prefab home's air conditioning.
I explain the passive solar prefab's design, the clerestory windows, the ceiling fans, the breezy location of the windows...
"When it's 100 degrees in the field, if done properly, I find it to be 80 degrees in the passive solar home!"

They protest, "But that's hot!" To me, it's not. I am one of those believers that air conditioning is just not great for you. I do believe in cooling: I believe in sundresses, I believe in iced tea, I believe in swimming holes, and lazy, shady porches.

I know everyone is not going to embrace that, but why not at least get your home to work with the seasons, therefore needing less systems, like in our prefab passive solar house?

Lloyd Alter explains it better: On the Evils of Air Conditioning
"Andrew Cox, author of Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer), is quoted in Planet Green:
Over about the past twenty years, when I would find myself in neighborhoods--in Florida, Georgia, Kansas--in summer, and would find the yards, sidewalks, and parks devoid of all human life. It was a sharp contrast to the scene when I was growing up in Georgia, and neighbors, especially kids, would spend all day outdoors, together, all summer long. At the same time that the isolating effect of air-conditioning was becoming apparent to me (and, I assume, to others), we were all becoming aware of the threat of global warming. Here, air-conditioning seemed to play a pivotal role, since with hotter weather, we would be relying even more on air-conditioning, which, through increased fossil fuel and refrigerant use, would accelerate warming, creating even greater demand for air conditioning."
And look how drastically air conditioning wrecked functional architecture and design.

Air conditioning changes our culture, climate, and, as it shocks your body from donning wool in August for the office to reemerge into the heavy heat of the parking lot to your car... that can't be healthy!

P.s. With the slowly cooked venison topped with elderberry jam, I also served Best Ever Coleslaw.

Best Ever Coleslaw
Shredded: 6-7/10ths cabbage (I like to mix red & green cabbage) 2-3/10ths mild, mild onion (hello, vidalia), 2-3ish/10ths shredded apple. (Oh. Like I can do percentages or division. Puh-leez.)
Dashes of salt & pepper.
MAD dashes of celery seed.
Dollops of Dukes-and-no-other-do-not-let-me-catch-you-not-using-Dukes-unless-it's-homemade Mayo.
But don't use *too* much mayo. You should not have a mayonnaise-y coleslaw. Be sparing, stir it up, keep adding more. Stir well. Let the flavors set awhile. Better the next day.



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1 Comments:

At 7/19/11, 1:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you can wait, elderberries do spread all by themselves.

 

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