We are now committed. Concrete has been poured for the foundation ... there is no turning back.
The foundation is rather straight forward, but getting it wrong here would be a nightmare later on. Bob Edminster and his sons are among the most highly thought of foundation company in the area. Barrett and I checked the layout, checked in again with Bob. ( I believe the count is now 6 times that we have laid out the house on the site.)
One of the issues we considered was the need for concrete elsewhere on the site. We needed concrete for the solar pole that would have the tracking solar panels running the pump for our pond, we also needed a small bit for the pond pump, and a large area for the cistern.
Cement is cement right? Well for our environmentally friendly house, a special environmentally friendly mixture of concrete has been used. We are using flyash for 30% of the concrete mix. Flyash is a waste product of coal combustion ... coal fired power plants. Flyash use improves concrete performance, making it stronger, more durable, and more resistant to chemical attack. Fly ash use also creates significant benefits for our environment.
Because fly ash displaces cement, it also reduces the need for cement production – a major energy user and source of “greenhouse gas” emissions. For every ton of cement manufactured, about 6.5 million BTUs of energy are consumed. For every ton of cement manufactured, about one ton of carbon dioxide is released. Replacing that ton of cement with fly ash would save enough electricity to power the average American home for 24 days, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions equal to two months use of an automobile.
Experts estimate that cement production contributes to about 7 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from human sources. If all the fly ash generated each year were used in producing concrete, the reduction of carbon dioxide released because of decreased cement production would be equivalent to eliminating 25 percent of the world’s vehicles. (It would be terrific if we did not produce fly ash because we found other forms of energy than from burning coal ... but that is a tangent beyond this discussion.)
Conserving landfill space is also an important consideration. Every ton of coal combustion products (fly ash) that is used to improve our nation’s highways and buildings is a ton that is not deposited in a landfill, saving the same amount of space that the average American uses over 455 days.
It made sense to order concrete and pour it all at the same time to hopefully save time and delays. A structural engineer had reviewed the plans and determined that we needed a wider foundation under the wall that would be earth bermed or backfilled. I suspect that we will be quite please with this extra effort and expense during the next earthquake.
Plumbing also needs to be roughed in at this points so that there are penetrations through the foundation for sewer, water, and electrical.
You only pour the foundation once and it better be right. You can always change the interior decor, you can even change a wall, but you really cannot change the the foundation.
We used a biodegradable form releaser made from soybeans rather than the more toxic conventional form releaser. The BuiltGreen Checklist gives points for biodegradable form releasers and fly ash in the concrete. Without the checklist, we may never have learned about these environmentally friendly products and practices.
I don't believe that either fly ash or biodegradable form releaser cost more, but they are better for the environment and that's what our house is all about.
Remember a GreenBuilt Home is also Quality Built Home !!
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Sunday December 17, 2006 05:34 PM -0800
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