Mention the words “log home” in these environmentally aware times and the first thing likely to spring into the minds of many people is an image of lumberjacks clear-cutting entire forests and destroying habitats for spotted owls. At a time in this planet’s history when climate change, pollution, the destruction of the natural environment, and soaring fuel costs are truly legitimate concerns, the thought of a home made from trees can understandably cause an initially panicked reaction. That notion of log homes being anti-“green,” could not, however, be farther from the truth.
Today’s log homes are, in fact, among the most environmentally friendly residential choices available, good both for the planet and for the people who live in them. American Log Homes help restore, renew, and safeguard nature. The best-made log homes are manufactured with virtually zero waste. From every stage of their creation, from standing timber through construction to move-in, are responsibly built log home leaves one of the smallest carbon footprints of any residential choice.
We use dry wood throughout our homes. We do not use wood that has been dried a certain number of months or a certain amount of time in a kiln, but rather, we use wood that is 15% moisture content or less - guaranteed! In order to determine the moisture content of the wood we use moisture meters. These are electrical instruments for determining the moisture content (MC) of wood.
Dry wood is stable wood, which means that the logs will not shrink, or warp. Dry wood results in a home which is very tight and free from air infiltration between logs. No chinking is required on the exterior or interior of the logs after the home is built unless it is for aesthetic purposes. Dry wood is also lighter and most of our homes fit on one tractor trailer without being over the legal weight limit. Remember, we do not allow for shrinkage due to our use of dry wood. There is no need for thru-bolts or screw-jack systems to adjust for the shrinkage of logs over time.
Ideal Choice for Sustainable Living
Once a log home has been built, its value as a green living choice becomes all the greater. Especially when a log home is positioned on its site to take maximize direct sunlight during the colder months and to maximize shade during warmer months, logs are an ideal building material, absorbing heat effectively and releasing it slowly to reduce heating costs in winter, and keeping interiors well-insulated against exterior heat in the summer.
Using dry wood to eliminate shrinkage and built following proper construction, sealing, and chinking procedures, log homes are also extremely airtight. This factor not only further reduces heating and cooling costs but also improves indoor air quality. The result is a far healthier interior environment.
In such practical, everyday ways, log homes provide true benefits to those who build and live in them. From the ways in which the logs are harvested, through their milling process, to the construction of the finished home, they make an ideal choice for anyone who wants to reduce their carbon footprint and live a sustainable, environmentally responsible life.
The term “embodied energy” is becoming more and more familiar among folks concerned about the environment. In brief and put as simply as possible, it refers to the sum total amount of energy expended to produce a product. For a brick wall, that would mean every bit of energy involved in digging up the clay, trucking it to the brickworks, building the moulds, firing it in the kiln, trucking it to the store or brickyard or building site, similar energy for the mortar, and assembling the wall, plus a share of the energy expended to make all the machines or equipment used in every step of the process.
By this standard, the walls of a log home contain consume less energy than walls of brick and mortar, and also less than walls of milled boards. That makes logs a much more responsible building material choice for the wellbeing of our planet.
Every log home has its start when the logs from which it is built are first cut. Today, the most responsible builders of log homes become responsible stewards of the environment by carefully choosing the trees they cut for the most positive impact on the environment.
Some trees may be harvested strategically for log homes with the goal of optimizing the well being of trees left behind. Done correctly, this can allow remaining trees more room to grow and more direct access to sunlight and rain. More importantly, however, is the fact that the smartest log homebuilders aim to use dead standing timber trees that, at first glance, may look alive because they appear upright and strong, but have in fact died. One prime example of such trees are pines killed by beetle infestation, a major problem in America’s forests.
Dead standing trees scattered throughout the forests are removed selectively by helicopter logging. In many cases entire tracts of woodlands may be composed of dead standing timber, which are most efficiently removed by clear cutting. Either way, such dead trees have drier wood that is much more prone to catching fire from lightning strikes, sparking power lines, or careless campers. Caught alight, one such dead standing tree can lead to the devastation of vast living forests and related ecosystems.
Fortunately, most dead standing timber is prime material for log homes. Beetles, for example, attack only the cambium, the thin growing layer beneath the bark, leaving the rest of the timber unaffected. Since a tree destined for a log home will be milled down to its heartwood, any and all traces of infestation are eliminated long before construction.
In these fundamental ways, logs are a sustainable resource. And that fact alone makes log homes a superb green building option. But there are more good reasons still why log homes make superb eco-friendly choices.