In the U.S., log homes have embodied a traditional approach to home building; one that has resonated throughout American history. So it is especially interesting to discover that, in today’s world, log homes represent a technology that allows a home to be built with a high degree of sustainability. In fact, log homes are frequently considered to be on the leading edge of the green construction movement.
Log home designs and materials result in a home that is not only naturally beautiful, but also one that exhibits a high level of energy efficiency, utilizes renewable resources, and produces a healthy home environment.
Saving Energy and Money
Reduced energy usage is good for the environment and it is good from a family’s financial perspective. In a log home, energy consumption is reduced, and money is saved, in both the heating of the home in winter, and the cooling of the home in summer. The key to this energy efficiency is the thermal mass of solid wood logs. This thermal mass allows a log home to hold heat better in colder weather, and to better retain its cooler temperature in hotter weather.
Precision Milling: An additional energy-saving feature is the precision-milling of logs. Precision-milled logs can provide a tight fit, that, when used with fastener and gasket technology, results in a log home that can be highly energy efficient.
Department of Energy: The energy saving capability of a log home was supported by a U.S. Department of Energy study that compared the energy performance of a solid wood log home versus a conventional, stick-framed house of similar size and design. The results of the study showed that the solid wood log home used 46% less energy in the heating mode, and 24% less energy in the cooling mode than the conventional stick-framed house.
Energy Star: Additional support for a log home’s energy efficiency is demonstrated by the fact that log materials and home designs have been shown to qualify for Energy Star certification. Energy Star is a U.S. government program that recognizes and certifies homes, building components, and appliances that have been shown to achieve significant energy savings. Independent tests have confirmed that a Southland log home not only meets, but can exceed Energy Star rating requirements.
HERS Index: Another measure of a home’s energy efficiency is the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index. The HERS Index is based on diagnostic testing using specialized equipment, such as a blower door test, a duct leakage tester, and infrared cameras. These tests help to determine the amount and location of air leaks in the building envelope. Once again, independent testing results confirmed that a log home can receive a five star rating under The Home Energy Rating System.
Natural, Renewable Resources
When thinking about sustainability in the construction of homes and other structures, it is important to examine the origin of the building materials that are being used. Recycled and renewable sources of materials are by definition the most sustainable.
Log cabin homes use a greater percentage of renewable building materials than most conventionally constructed homes. A conventionally framed wall uses several materials, many of which cannot be considered renewable: exterior siding, processed plywood or other laminated wood products, fiberglass insulation, interior sheetrock, and some type of wall covering. The walls of a log home basically consist of one renewable product: solid wood logs. These logs serve multiple functions: they provide structural support, they function as exterior siding and sheathing, and they provide a naturally beautiful interior surface.
In addition, the materials required for a conventionally built home (sheetrock, brick, siding, etc) often require a great deal of energy to produce. This results in the generation of greenhouse gases and a substantial “carbon footprint”. The logs in a log home are “manufactured” by Mother Nature using soil nutrients, water, carbon dioxide removed from the air, and the energy of the sun, all in the process of photosynthesis. The milling and treating of the logs at generally requires significantly less processing, and less energy consumption, than the production of conventional building materials. The result is a significantly lower carbon footprint.
In a log home, the same elements that make the home “green” also make it beautiful.
Healthy Home Environment
The maintenance of a healthy environment in the home has been an area that has received increasing attention in recent years. Incidents such as the toxic Chinese drywall disaster (2004-2007), which caused plumbing and electrical corrosion and negative health impacts in thousands of homes, have contributed to this heightened interest.
As discussed above, conventionally-constructed homes use a higher degree of processed and manufactured materials which may produce more pollutants in their manufacture. These materials may even emit harmful toxins into the home environment.
The use of natural log cabin kits material in a log home contributes to a healthier environment for you and your family. Logs and timbers do not emit VOCs or other pollutants into the indoor space. Studies have demonstrated that log homes support healthier indoor air quality, including helping to naturally maintain humidity in a desirable range.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of a log home is knowing that you are living in a natural, beautiful, and healthy environment. Log home purchasers report that the relaxing environment of a log home results in a major reduction in their level of stress. It is like coming home to a natural, stress-lowering vacation every day!