Building Techniques at Mesa Life
Beauty and aesthetics, the connection to the natural world, and purposeful function all play a role in the vision and values of demonstration village of Mesa Life Project.
EcoNest is a trademark way of building that we have adopted as our hositically designed and hand-crafted natural homes. An EcoNest home incorporates timber-frame, straw-clay walls, earth plasters and natural and non-toxic finishes. This combineation of time-honored building traditions with modern innovations results in a home of unsurpassed health and comfort. Come join us to learn how to timber frame and build light clay-straw walls in workshops led by Robert LaPorte of EcoNest.
If we are to solve climate change, then we need to change the way we build our buildings.
Methods Used in Building
Post and Beam Load-Bearing Structure: Is a robust framework comprised of large posts and beams that carry all of the loads in the building. This allows for flexibility with the non-load bearing walls, called Larsen Truss’ that are infilled between the posts.
The ancient earth homes of Europe are built this way. Many of them still stand five to eight hundred years later. We feel this is the best building method, especially in the semi-arid climate, for a home to stand for seven generations! This is a sustainable building practice. Read more…
Light Clay-Straw: The clay comes from the land, out of the foundation hole. Mixing together clay, straw and water we build a wall. The eight to twelve inch thick walls have the dual benefit of thermal mass and insulation, forgoing the need to use conventional insulation and providing thermal stability. All of these materials are found on the land and in the neighborhood. Natural colored clay from the area is used to create beautiful plaster finishes to the walls.
Our goal is to design residences so we use the absolute minimum supplemental energy in our day-to-day lives.
Adobe Earthen Floors and Walls: Are made from the earth from the land. The walls are finished with a earthen plaster from colorful and locally sourced clay and the floors have burnished layer of fine soil, orange and linseed oil and beeswax. We love Heritage Natural Finishes. The end result gives us a room that feels like a sanctuary with all its natural beauty and the floors are durable, warm and beautiful.
Passive Solar Design: Each dwelling will be designed with large south facing windows to allow the low winter sun to permeate the interior space, directly heating the thermal mass (floors, walls). At night, these surfaces slowly release the stored heat, minimizing (or eliminating) the need to use supplemental heat sources. North walls will be denser and have smaller windows, to help hold the warmth for the long winter nights and to provide natural cooling in the summer heat. Deciduous trees will be oriented to provide shade in the summer months, but allow sunlight in the winter. The dwellings will be designed to allow plenty of natural light inside the space during the day, minimizing or eliminating the need for daytime electric lights. These are just a few of the principles of passive solar design, but the general concept is to design from the ground up to make best use of the cycles of nature.
Water: The potable water is supplied by wells, and will be gravity fed to each dwelling. When compared to conventional dwellings, homes will consume a fraction of the water which is imperative for our semi-arid climate. Fixtures will be oriented to minimize piping, and will be specified for low water consumption. Modern no-water composting toilets will be used. Solar heater water will be stored in large, insulated tanks. Rain and snow roof catchment will be used for irrigation of our gardens and fruit orchards.
Water is Life.
We honor the finite and precious gift of the crystal clear waters that trickle through the earth
from atop the Grand Mesa and celebrate the life giving waters from the rains and snows.
Masonry Heater and Wood Boiler/cook stoves: The combination of cooking, baking, domestic hot water heating, fire viewing are all traditional functions associated with masonry heaters and wood boiler/cook stoves. Masonry heaters and Wood boilers take a minimal amount of wood, about two cords in the winter months, lighting it only twice daily to heat the large common space and side rooms.