Construction update

A look at what’s been happening:

  • As part of the Phase II portion of our Brownfield application, which involved soil sampling, we learned that our soil contains a lot of lead in the front of our building. As a result, when we dig and remove soil to put a drainage field in our parking lot, we’ll have to take that soil to a landfill.
  • Also on the Brownfield, we have to appear before the Brownfield Committee of the City Council on March 10th and 24th. After that, 2 assessors have to come and determine if the building is obsolete, then we appear before the City Council once again before the Mayor signs us off.
  • We’ve begun archiving historical materials that were found, mostly in the attic, during deconstruction. We’re cleaning delicate materials off, first with a soft brush, then microfiber cloths, and finally eraser particles that do a gentle final clean. We make note of each item, its date and condition, and finally store it away in acid-free paper in an acid-free box. These materials will one day be displayed in the building.

Archiving 1

  • On the windows front, we have finally have all of the details of our green windows fleshed out (highly efficient glass from Cardinal Glass; FSC-certified wood as trim; Benjamin Moore Aura Paint, which is low VOC), and we’re finishing the details of the warranties before sending the order in next week.
  • On to wood: Floor boards are coming from someone in Ohio who obtained them from a deconstructed county building. We have a nice stock of other wood for walls, but are still in need of about 50 used 2×4’s in the 16 ft range, in case anyone knows of a source.
  • On Friday, Jim and Dominic from Aquatherm gave us a demonstration of their Greenpipe product. We would use this product for our potable hot and cold water, for compressed air, and to take the water to and from the solar panels and storage tanks and feed to our plex radiant pipes. The pipes are zero VOC, non-toxic, very quiet, smell/taste neutral and opaque so bacteria are discouraged from growing. In the picture below, Jim is showing Laurie Catey how to repair a pipe.

Jim and laurie

  • And speaking of the pipes, we have an early radiant floor design. You’ll see that the heating/cooling tubes will be placed at the perimeter of the rooms, for the most part. This idea is banking on the fact that the heat/cool air will penetrate into the interior sufficiently, just like an apartment placed in the middle of a large building will use the heat emanating from the apartments adjacent to it. We will design this so that if we need to add more tubes toward the interior of the building, we can.

Radiant floor design

  • We have also developed a modified version of our geo-solar hybrid heating and cooling system. Remember this drawing of our heating system?


  • Since making this plan, we discovered that the geothermal portion would be used only used for peak loads (50,000 BTUs for heating, 40,000 for cooling), and that this represented only 2% of our total usage. Geothermal was simply too big and too expensive for such a small use, so we came up with another idea…using a tankless hot water heater. Details will follow. Similar changes will be made to the cooling system, which will involve an air to water heat pump.
  • Eduardo and Heladio finished sealing the ceiling with Defy Clear Wood Stain. They even found a way to use old pieces of foam for the application. The ceiling looks amazing.

New use for old foam

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