The Natural House: A Complete Guide to Health, Energy-Efficient, Environmental Homes

Overview

The Natural House is a tour of the construction, costs, and pros and cons of fourteen natural building methods. Straw Bale, Rammed Earth, Cob, Cordwood, Adobe, Earthbags, Papercrete, Earthships?whatever the method, the common goal is to create a house that is economical, energy efficient, nontoxic, soothing to the soul, kind to the environment, and pleasing to behold. This comprehensive sourcebook offers in-depth information that will guide your search for the perfect sustainable dream home. It is a must for home...

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Overview

The Natural House is a tour of the construction, costs, and pros and cons of fourteen natural building methods. Straw Bale, Rammed Earth, Cob, Cordwood, Adobe, Earthbags, Papercrete, Earthships…whatever the method, the common goal is to create a house that is economical, energy efficient, nontoxic, soothing to the soul, kind to the environment, and pleasing to behold. This comprehensive sourcebook offers in-depth information that will guide your search for the perfect sustainable dream home. It is a must for home builders, contractors, and architects.

Author Dan Chiras shows how you can gain energy independence and reduce your environmental impact through passive solar heating and cooling techniques, solar electricity, wind power, and micro-hydropower. He also explains safe, economical ways to obtain clean drinking water and treat wastewater, and discusses affordable green products.

While he's an unabashed advocate of natural building techniques, Chiras takes care not to romanticize and to alert readers to avoidable pitfalls. His detailed, practical, and ecologically sound advice can save tens of thousands of dollars, whether you are buying, building, or renovating a natural home.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Simply put, this is the most comprehensive and most useful introduction to natural building systems and practices available. A book that anyone setting out to build a home of natural materials should read--cover to cover."--Alex Wilson, executive editor and publisher, Environmental Building News

Booknews
This sourcebook examines the options for building a house that is economical, energy-efficient, nontoxic, kind to the environment, and pleasurable to inhabit. Explores the pros and cons of 14 natural building methods, including straw bale, rammed earth, cob, cordwood, adobe, earthbags, papercrete, earthships, and others, all well- illustrated in b&w. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781890132576
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/1/2000
  • Series: Real Goods Solar Living Series
  • Pages: 468
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Dan Chiras paid his last electric bill in June of 1996. It is not that he has disavowed the use of electricity and modern conveniences, but rather that he has turned to the sun and wind to meet his family's needs.

In 1995, Dan, a former full-time college professor with years of experience in sustainable development, built a state-of-the-art rammed earth tire and straw bale home in Evergreen, Colorado. He installed solar electric panels on the roof; a year or so later he installed a small wind generator. Since that time, he has met nearly all of his electrical needs for his home and office from these clean, renewable sources.

Dan also heats his home in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains 8000-feet above sea level with energy from the sun thanks to passive solar design. For backup heat on those cold winter nights, he burns a cord of wood a year, gathered free from his community. His annual gas bill, mostly for showers and cooking, runs about $120 a year - about $2 to $3 per month for natural gas and $10 per month to read the meter!

Dan has spent much of the past 30 years studying sustainability and applying what he has learned in solar energy, natural building, and green building to his residences, and most of the last ten years sharing the practical knowledge he has gained through writing, lectures, slide shows, and workshops.

Dan has published 21 books to date including several college and high school textbooks: Environmental Science: Creating a Sustainable Future, Natural Resource Conservation, Human Biology, and Biology: The Web of Life. His high school environmental science text, Environmental Science, was selected as the official book of the U.S. Academic Decathlon's 1991 competition.

In the early 1990s, Dan published two trade books on environmental issues and sustainability for a general audience: Beyond the Fray: Reshaping America's Response and Lessons from Nature: Learning to Live Sustainably on the Earth.

Since 1995, Dan has focused most of his attention on residential green building. He has written extensively on the subject. His is books include: The Natural House: A Complete Guide to Healthy, Energy Efficient, Environmental Homes; The Natural Plaster Book; The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling; Superbia! 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Suburbs; and The New Ecological Home.

His newest book, EcoKids: Raising Kids Who Care for the Earth will be published in the Spring of 2005 by New Society Publishers.

Dan also writes extensively for magazines, journals, newsletters, and newspapers. He has published nearly 250 articles on environmental issues, sustainability, natural building, natural plaster, green building, and passive solar heating and cooling. His articles appear regularly in Home Power, Mother Earth News, Natural Home, and The Last Straw.

Dan also writes frequently for World Book Encyclopedia (Science Year) and Encyclopedia Americana. He authored a 12-page article on the environment for Encyclopedia Americana. Dan has written environmental pollution section for World Book Encyclopedia's annual publication, Science Year, since 1993. In 1997, he wrote an extensive piece for World Book on population growth and its many implications. Dan also wrote the ecology and air pollution sections for Encyclopedia Americana.

In addition to his writing, Dan has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado in Denver and the University of Colorado at Denver. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Washington, where he taught a course on environmental science. He currently is a Melon Visiting Professor at Colorado College where he teaches courses on renewable energy, ecological design, and sustainable development.

Through his writing and teaching in the 1980s and early 1990s, Dan played a leading role in promoting critical thinking, an understanding of the root causes of environmental issues, systemic solutions to environmental problems, sustainable development. He pioneered a systems approach to sustainable development and has played a lead role in articulating the principles, policies, and practices of sustainable development which seeks ways that business and society can prosper within a healthy environment. He is currently focusing most of his research and writing on sustainable building and sustainable communities.

Dan's free time is spent mountain biking, canoeing, playing music, and gardening.

For more information visit danchiras.com.

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Table of Contents

Part 1: The sustainable imperative
Striking out in a new direction
Part 2: Choices
Rammed earth homes
Straw bale homes
Earthships and beyond
Adobe homes
Cob homes
Cordwood homes
Log homes
Stone homes
Emerging natural building techniques
Part 3: Sustainable systems
Energy independence : passive solar heading and cooling
Energy independence : generating electricity from sun, wind, and water Environmentally sustainable water systems
Green building materials : creating the ultimate environmentally friendly home
Site considerations : choosing a site, protecting it during construction, and restoring the land
Building an alternative home : what you need to know to get your home built

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2008

    Many options

    With his PhD in reproductive physiology, Chiras really has the expertise to write this book. Of course, he got expert opinions, and he has spent a long time with green building. Some of his statements are hypocritical, however. He says most people only need 1,200 square feet, when he has a house of 2,700 square feet for him and his kids Skyler and Forrest and an office area. I can't remember the others, but there are a couple. Otherwise, though, Chiras gives a lot of useful information on a multitude of natural building methods, some not so great, others wonderful. He also details a lot of different companies that make green products, talks about rain catchment and many other things imperative for green living. Some of the companies, like Jade Mountain, and some of the websites, I could not find because the book is eight years old. Some of the techniques are outdated because natural building, especially straw bales, have come a long way since then. If you don't like that kind of person that bashes modern homebuilding at every turn, stay away from this book. It will either strengthen your convictions or annoy you. (Also, Chiras is the kind of guy that lives in the mountains in Colorado, kayaks, names his kids Forrest and Skyler, complains at the way most of us live. Essentially a mixed yuppy/hippy, which can get aggravating.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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