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Blog/News

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We encourage you to follow along on our Living Building journey. Stay tuned to this space to see the challenges that arise from this project and how we approach and solve them, as well as how we approach the education and equity petals of the LBC. 


Water series POST 2: The Water Bind

Setting up the system for drinking our rainwater was simple. But our path to LBC certification for the house’s water petal proved complicated.  It followed a winding road not because Biohabitats missed something.  Pete and Crystal did great work on the design. And it wasn’t because the end solution was so complex.  The journey was bendy for two important reasons: 1. We were setting a very high bar to generate all our own water for the house, even during the Northwest’s dry months and 2. We were trying to create a water solution that respected the existing forest garden…

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Drinking from a Long Straw

As ecological engineers and designers, we see Loom House not as a “site,” but as a part of the Bainbridge Island landscape and the interconnected, ecological systems and communities that enliven it. Like all built structures, it is a place that exists within and has an impact on its unique watershed.We believe that impact can be positive…

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Subsurface Innovation

“Now on to something much, much more interesting and intriguing than art … Sewage!” That’s how a Bainbridge City Council member introduced an ordinance we had worked on to let Bainbridge homes and buildings handle wastewater in a way that lessens the burden on the Island’s infrastructure while helping to protect our drinking water supply and our local ecology…

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The Spray Foam Blues – a Middle Way

Remodeling a house as a Living Building can require some big moves, such as installing solar panels or triple-pane windows.  But, then, we can engineer the world’s tightest building envelope, and defeat all that work by neglecting a hole some place in the wall or roof just the size of a quarter. It’s the small, day-to-day construction methods that can make or break a project.  

The topic is spray foam insulation. On the surface, it sounds like a dull subject. Things get more interesting, however, when you consider the fact that spray foam is the building industry’s version of a Faustian bargain:  it does an amazingly effective and low-cost job of providing insulation that reduces energy bills, but it is one of the most toxic, greenhouse-gas producing products known…

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Matching values with resources

People often want to know why we are remodeling Loom House to such a high standard of green.  The short answer is that we want our living/work space and how we spend our time and money to match our values. We are privileged to attempt this on a scale like Loom House. 

And there are many ways for people to take action on different scales -- all of them honorable. That raises a straightforward question: what will it take for us all link our beliefs and behaviors, for people to match their values with their resources – in any way they can?

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There’s a Fungus Among Us!

How do you accommodate the urban agriculture element of the Living Building Challenge on a shaded, forested site in the Pacific Northwest?  Think forest foraging and mushrooms!! Loom House on Bainbridge Island, WA will uphold the principles of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) v3.1 Imperative 02: Urban Agriculture to help it become the first LBC remodeled residence.  The imperative requires that a pre-determined percentage of the site’s area support “crops, livestock and other strategies that contribute to human health and/or food consumption urban agriculture”…

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We’re watching our wood waste

At our historic Loom House job site on Bainbridge Island, we are finding a better way – a kinder, environmentally conscious method of dealing with construction waste. At this Living Building Challenge remodel, our team is taking the time to separate out untreated waste pieces – those without coating, paint or preservative – and divert them to recyclers, who will turn these scraps into useful biomass or mulch…

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Sealing up the cracks

Loom House is a mid-century modern home with an architectural style identified by expansive amounts of glass, expressive structure and materials that extend from inside out. This is inherently problematic from an energy efficiency standpoint. Updating the home to meet high-performance goals largely focused on improving overall assemblies (the walls, roof and floors), including triple-pane insulated glass and an effort to eliminate thermal bridging…

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Super solar a net-positive for Loom House

Energy independence is a key goal of the Living Building Challenge – projects must generate 105 percent of their own power using renewable sources, and provide onsite storage for system resiliency. It’s called net-positive energy, and it’s a very high bar to reach.  The Loom House on Bainbridge Island is up to the challenge…

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Bridging a Connection with Nature

As we approach this year’s Thanksgiving celebration we cannot help but look forward to 2019’s holiday with a dream of how the Loom House owners will be able to welcome their family around their new table. The idea of welcoming was one of the first items addressed in the Loom design when the project began. Before the renovation, there was no clear path to enter the home and no delineation of the difference between the north and south houses…

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We can’t move mountains, but we can move a tree

Bringing an older home up to the rigorous standards of the Living Building Challenge meant we have to demonstrate exceptional concern for the environment. That care extended to the landscape , where a beautiful Chinese dogwood (Cornus kousa) was growing in the footprint of where the new carport is being built. The solution: move the tree… 

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Setting out on our Journey

The Loom House is a home on Bainbridge Island that was  well-loved and well-used in its life by two local families for 50 years.  The 2000-square-foot-home was designed in 1968 by Hal Moldstad, an architect known for a local expression of Pacific Northwest Modernism with a keen eye for integrating place and structure. The building itself expresses his careful siting and attention to proportions. But it had not been updated. Yellow daisy formica welcomed you to the bathroom sink. The home was divided into a warren of small rooms, filled with bunkbeds, all built to host more than a dozen grandchildren for sleepovers…

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Welcome to the loom house blog!

This blog will feature occasional posts about turning a mid-century modern home on Bainbridge Island into a home so environmentally friendly that it restores the land it sits on and meets the Living Building Challenge. You will read posts by me, Todd Vogel, by my wife, Karen Hust, and by the enormously talented team of people at Miller Hull Partners, Biohabitats, WSP and Charlie Hellstern Interiors who are doing the really hard work of figuring out how to pull this off…

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