The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

June 13, 2008

Book review: Books offer earth-friendly building tips

I may be a little late for Earth Day, but this week’s review covers green topics, like earth-friendly building and lifestyles. First, the building books.

“Strawbale Home Plans” by Wayne J. Bingham is not, strictly speaking, a book of home plans but rather a collection of strawbale homes from around the country and some of the details about how they came to be built and what the homeowner’s experience was.

Some are just tickled pink about the experience and results, while others learned the hard way that perhaps they should have done something a bit differently. My favorite is the one with the lap pool inside. Some are big, some are tiny, all are interesting.

The library has two other items strictly about straw-bale construction, one book and one videotape.

“Green from the Ground Up” by David Johnston and Scott Gibson would be really helpful for anyone planning to build a new home or do extensive remodeling or adding onto a house. It gives extensive and very informative coverage of foundations, framing, roots and attics, plumbing, heating and cooling, insulation, siding, air quality and solar energy.

The section on framing was an eye-opener. The amount of material and labor saved (not to mention the greater insulation allowed) by using 2x6s on 24-inch centers rather than the old standard 2x4s on 16-inch centers is amazing! All the sections provide useful information on not only the green aspects of the options available, but the costs. Suffice it to say, if you’re going to re-side your house, think cement siding. Highly recommended for anyone interested in construction.

“Power with Nature” by Rex Ewing gives an excellent overview of solar, wind and water power, but I’d skip “Dog of the Sun, Cat of the Wind: A Primer Disguised as a Fable.”

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