photo courtesy Marian Kroell on Unsplash

ABODE: Sustainable Living; Are you ready for the future?

Structure is important, especially in areas that are more prone to natural disasters. My former hometown was recently hit by a tornado, and the news coverage of the destruction was heartbreaking, to say the least. People’s entire homes scattered across their yards, roofs completely ripped off exposing the interiors to massive amounts of water. Not only is this costly to repair, but it is dangerous and too often, deadly. When I found out my family there was safe, if not a little wet since part of their roof blew off, I immediately started thinking of how this could be avoided in the future. Why are we building homes made out of easily destroyed materials in areas that tempt mother nature to try? She will almost always succeed against wood. Wood is cheap, it’s quick and easy to build with, but structurally it’s weak. It’s also prone to pest infestation, like termites and mice, which will further weaken it. Even more, it’s not sustainable on the scale that other materials are. Trees typically have a 35–50 year regrowth timeframe to be harvested again, and the harvesting process displaces the ecosystems that have grown inside of them. That’s where recycled steel, hempcrete, and upcycled shipping containers come in.

Starting with a recycled steel frame, already we have a structure that mother nature is highly unlikely to beat. The sheer strength and durability of steel makes it a far better option than wood. Not only does it have a far greater chance of withstanding hurricane-force winds, but it also has a higher probability of surviving an earthquake. It is also not susceptible to pest infestation, leaving a structure that maintains its integrity throughout the home's entire life. Environmentally, steel is superior because it reduces and recycles waste materials, it also leaves natural environments and ecosystems to thrive generating cleaner air without deforestation.

Hemp can be harvested up to twice a year, shaving about 70–100 years off the time it takes to get two harvests of trees from the same piece of land (that’s roughly 7,000% — 10,000% more efficient, just so you know). It is even a carbon-negative plant since it actively sucks in C02 as it grows. When the hemp fibers are mixed with a lime binder and water, it creates a material that is more structurally sound than wood, is fire resistant, impervious to pests, and is even a natural insulator. Abodes will be easy to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter thanks to the highly effective insulation properties of hempcrete. When hempcrete cures it leaves a surface that stucco can be applied to which gives the homes a very sleek, modern finish. Overall hempcrete is a very promising building material. It can save costs long-term on maintenance and electricity, it’s quickly renewable, environmentally friendly, and has a very high likelihood of surviving mother nature’s worst.

While metal might not necessarily have natural insulating properties like hempcrete, that does not mean using shipping containers is an unsustainable option. In fact, recycling used shipping containers allows materials that would otherwise create pollution to be repurposed, and given a new life. While this is rarely the case, occasionally hazardous materials are transported in shipping containers, if these containers are disposed of without proper cleaning it can damage local environments and create toxic pollution. In those cases, after a very thorough cleaning, any hazardous materials can be disposed of safely and properly, giving the container a new, safe, clean, and eco-friendly life.

Energy independence means harvesting the natural energy of the sun with solar panels, generating your own electricity, and cutting your reliance on fossil fuels to power your home. This can eliminate a monthly electricity bill entirely, as well as reduces the consumers' carbon footprint. Solar power is quickly becoming an increasingly popular renewable energy solution. New technology has made estimating the exact size of the system needed for each individual home easier than ever, saving the consumer from either overspending on an oversized system, or even potentially not generating enough electricity. Solar panels are easily maintained, typically come with a lengthy warranty, and even eventually pay for themselves in money saved making them the obvious choice to power your Abode.

The finishing touches are what makes a house a home. In this case, the finishing touches will be a completely customizable smart home system. You can have total control and monitoring of your entire home, from energy consumption/production, to self-locking doors, all the way to remote thermostat monitoring and control, and even security system monitoring straight from your smartphone. This allows you to keep a better peace of mind knowing that your Abode is maintaining efficiency, and keeping you safe and protected from anything mother nature can throw at you.

My goal is to create homes that not only serve the purpose of protecting the consumer, but also mother nature. While she can be terrifyingly destructive, she is also undeniably important to our survival. Creating a better environment is crucial because it allows future generations to enjoy this earth the same way we do. Reducing pollution, generating cleaner air, and recycling waste are just a few of the ways we can accomplish that. Abode homes do all of that while creating beautiful and unique appearances that really compliment mother nature’s natural beauty.

That only leaves one question, Are you ready for the future? This is the future, and the future is now.

Abode: Sustainable living.

Saving the planet one home at a time.