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The Natural Building Companion
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Table of Contents

PART I: THE CONTEXT FOR NATURAL BUILDING Chapter 1: A Brief History of Natural Building in the Northeast, Learning from History, Mainstream Building Materials Today Chapter 2: Ecology, Global Warming and Climate Change, Addressing Challenges of Toxicity, Moving Forward Chapter 3: Beyond the Building: Siting and Landscape Design, Fundamentals of Siting, Natural Building and Permaculture Chapter 4: Soil and Stone: Geology and Mineralogy, Geology, Mineralology: Minerals, Sand, Clay, and Soil; Geology and the Northeast Chapter 5: Flora and Fauna, Plants, Animals and Animal Products PART II: BUILDING SCIENCE AND PERFORMANCE Chapter 6: Structure and Natural Building, Straw Bale Wall: Non-Load Bearing, Straw Bale Wall: Load Bearing, Mass Walls: Load Bearing, Know What You Don't Know Chapter 7: Heat and Natural Building, Thermal Performance Strategies for Natural Buildings, Field Testing of Natural Buildings, Common Heat Loss Conditions in Natural Buildings, Beyond the R-Value, The Power of Mass Chapter 8: Moisture and Natural Building, Moisture Performance Strategies for Natural Buildings, Moisture Control Strategy, Smarter Buildings Chapter 9: Fire, Insects, and Acoustics, Fire and Natural Buildings, Insects and Natural Buildings, Acoustics and Natural Buildings PART III: NATURAL BUILDING PRACTICES Chapter 10: Design, Holistic Design System, Values-Based Design, Integrative Design--Best of All Worlds, Design Modalities, Design Rating Systems Chapter 11: Before Construction, Budgeting and Finances, Assessing Resources, Codes, Permitting, and Insurance Chapter 12: Foundations for Natural Buildings, Functions of Foundations, Key Considerations of a Foundation System, Types of Foundation Systems Chapter 13: Framing for Natural Buildings, Framing with Green Wood, Framing Systems Chapter 14: Insulative Wall Systems: Straw Bale, Design for Straw Bale Structures (Step 1), Bale Preparation: Air Fins, Stand-aways, Pony Wall/Toe-ups, & Window/Door Framing (Step 2), Bale Construction and Installation (Step 3), Plaster Preparation (Step 4) Chapter 15: Insulative Wall Systems: Straw-Clay, Woodchip-Clay, and Cellulose, Insulative Walls: an Overview, Constructing Straw Clay Exterior Walls, Constructing Straw Clay Interior Walls, Constructing Woodchip Clay Exterior Walls, Constructing Woodchip Clay Interior Walls, Cellulose-Insulated Walls Chapter 16: Natural Mass Wall Systems: Earthen and Stone Applications for Mass in Cold Climates, Most Common Mass Wall Typologies, Other Mass Wall Typologies Chapter 17: Natural Plastering, What Is Plaster?, General Plaster Structure, Plastering Methods Chapter 18: Roofs for Natural Buildings, Roof Assembly Strategies, Roofing Materials Chapter 19: Floors for Natural Buildings, Earthen Floors, Other Flooring Options Chapter 20: Natural Finishes, Choosing the Right Finish, The Anatomy of a Finish, A Sampling of Natural Finish Formulations Chapter 21: Mechanicals and Utilities for Natural Buildings, Water, Energy: Electricity, Energy: Heat, Ventilation, Air Conditioning Conclusion A Structure Not in Isolation The Places We Live: Challenges and Opportunities in Cities, Towns, Suburbs, and Rural Areas Call to Action References Appendix A: Suggested Further Reading Appendix B: Selected Details Appendix C: Plaster Recipes Appendix D: Results Summary of Energy Performance of Northeast Straw Bale Buildings Research Appendix E: Sample Budget Index

About the Author

Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton co-own New Frameworks Natural Building LLC, a company offering services in green remodelling, new construction, consultation and education featuring natural building technologies. They are instructors at educational organisations including Yestermorrow Design/Build School, and are involved with the Natural Building Certificate Program, which Jacob helped develop.

Reviews

Library Journal-
Builders and educators Racusin and McArleton bring all considerations of green construction to light. Their writing is articulate and their explanations are in-depth, but they provide little how-to. Chapters encompass a wide variety of natural construction methods and materials. The planning sections really shine. Verdict: This guide stands out for the wealth of information it provides on green construction basics and planning. A solid addition to building collections.


Choice-
"Natural building is broader in its approach and scope than green building," state Racusin and McArleton (both, Yestermorrow Design/Build School instructors) in The Natural Building Companion. The volume's 21 chapters, which cover topics ranging from soil and acoustics to straw bale and energy electricity, are divided into three parts: 'The Context for Natural Building, ' 'Building Science and Performance, ' and 'Natural Building Practices.' The natural techniques described all speak to broader concerns about better, healthier ways of building, intended to eliminate volatile organic compound (VOC) off-gassing; and to create living environments that are designed and built as if climate mattered. These approaches also aim to reduce buildings' reliance on expensive and energy-consuming mechanical systems for maintaining comfortable living conditions. On a more detailed level, the authors delve into product ingredients, e.g., lime in mortars. They even supply recipes for finishes. Their view is that designing and building shelter to meet a wide range of human needs and local environmental conditions need not be a luxury. An additional bonus is an instructional DVD that allows readers to visualize many of the techniques the authors discuss. This book is an excellent hands-on companion to any and all books on architecture. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers.


"Fun. Easy to Read. Details that are useful in just about any climate, but particularly in cold climates. As the title clearly states, this book is a true 'companion' to take along on one's natural building journey. A well-thought-out account of Jacob and Ace's experiences and the methods they have evolved over the years. One of the best natural building books published in recent years."--Bill Steen, coauthor, The Straw Bale House


"The Natural Building Companion is a joy to read. The approach is holistic, the style is generous, and the authors gracefully balance technical details, beautiful spaces, and big ecological questions. This book empowers the reader to make choices that matter-for their own home and for the health of our planet."--Paul Lacinski, coauthor of Serious Straw Bale


"A thorough treatment of both the context for and specifics of natural building, this book is a wealth of resources all in one place. Though geared to the Atlantic Northeast, there is still more than enough here to make it a must-read for natural builders everywhere."--Bruce King, author of Design of Straw Bale Buildings and Buildings of Earth and Straw


"This excellent and thoroughly researched book reflects the progression of natural building. It eloquently expresses the beautiful marriage between experience and experimentation, fact and anecdote, science and soul. Deva and Ace have built us a much needed bridge between natural building and green building. The Natural Building Companion will transform how we build!"--Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce, authors of Using Natural Finishes and Building with Cob


"The Natural Building Companion brings age-old building techniques and materials into the modern world. It is a comprehensive evaluation of natural building methods that shares results from up-to-date testing and monitoring, explains how these results apply to building codes, and covers new tools and resources that make installation more user-friendly and durable. By combining a wealth of information in a single volume, this book is indispensable to anyone wanting to build a healthy home using natural materials."--Will Beemer, director, The Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts


"'What is a high-performance building?' Racusin and McArleton answer that question by taking a values-based approach that integrates social and ecological good with health, resource efficiency, and durability. Fusing the knowledge of the building-science community with the wisdom and experience of the best natural building practitioners, The Natural Building Companion provides plenty of detailed, how-to information to help readers create structures and communities that are, as the authors put it, 'worthy of our highest aspirations.'"--Marc Rosenbaum, founder, Energysmiths

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