Green Building Your Log Cabin

Green building is one of the many appealing qualities of a log home. The solid permanence of a log structure also conserves energy and protects the environment. The tactile appeal of the natural wood is a side benefit of knowing that the thermal mass of your logs makes them energy efficient.

Some ideas for building green

  • Site house properly to maximize passive heat gain from the sun. Face long side to south and increase window area, but decrease west-facing window area as this gets too hot in summer.
  • Build with logs – a naturally renewable resource and green building favorite. 
  • Design long roof overhangs to shade windows and cabin in summer but still allow winter solar heat gain. 
  • Balance ventilation between indoor and outdoor air and use balanced-ventilation exhaust fans to exchange air. 
  • Utilize efficient ceiling fans to distribute the heat evenly throughout the cabin in the winter and to cool in the summer.
  • Choose paints and stains and glues with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds) so that you don't pollute the indoor air quality of your cabin. 
  • Use light colored cabin roofing and/or install reflective radiant heat barriers under your roof. It’s best to ensure at least a 1” air gap above the barrier for ventilation. This can reduce 97% of radiant heat and significantly reduce summer cooling costs. 
  • Install dual-flush toilets that use less water for flushing. 
  • If you're building your own log cabin, order logs and lumber carefully and save all the scraps that could possibly be used during later phases. 
Green Building - Energy Star Rating
  • Carefully select windows to meet Energy Star standards. Check the NFRC labels for U-factor, which measures heat flow, and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), which measures the percentage of radiant heat energy that will pass through the window. A more efficient window will have both lower U-factor and lower SHGC. 
  • Buy locally. Not only do the local manufacturers understand the wood species best suited for your climate, you will also save money on delivery fees and fuel surcharges.
  • Utilize energy-efficient lighting. One of the easiest ways of living green is by using LED lighting throughout your log home.
  • Install Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). SIPs create an efficient, permanent energy envelope, reducing heating and cooling costs. They also save money on construction costs since they install quickly.
  • Choose your water heater with care. Water heaters can account for as much as 25% of your cabins energy use. Installing a high-efficiency water heater or a tankless water heater will save you money for years.
  • Employ eco-friendly log home landscaping techniques by channeling rainwater to plantings.
  • Utilize radiant heating using PEX tubing. Not only is radiant heating more energy efficient, it's also quieter and cleaner since you don't blow all your heating air through HVAC ducts.

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