My Green Home

A natural sustainable building near Kamloops, BC.

Low embodied energy ~ Sequestering carbon ~ Resilient

My home has been built with multiple ‘petal’ standard of an early version of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) as its guide. The Living Building Challenge is the highest green building standard in the world.

This home is also an example of natural building: a wood timberframe (from a nearby sustainably managed woodlot) with straw bale walls encased in natural clay and lime finishes. It is highly energy efficient and utilizes both passive solar design and active solar heating for primary heating. It was designed to be net zero on completion (including average vehicle charging), uses energy efficient lighting, daylighting design and sits currently solar-ready for its PV (photovoltaic or solar-electric panels). The property also employs land-based rainwater collection and water conservation methods.

The choice of materials (and their sourcing) used in the home was made based on both embodied energy and toxicity (the LBC Redlist was used as a guide for toxicity). Although the toxics petal of the LBC was reluctantly given up for this project, only the roofing paint and a few point sources of red list materials are found in the home.

Natural Home under construction

This home was designed and built by myself, with almost all the bale work and plastering done by me as a solo woman builder (with considerable help from friends!). I also was part of the construction crews for all other systems in the home; there is no part of this home that has not had my hands on it.

Rubble trench foundation and deep [seasonal heat storage] base under construction, final stages

installing timberframe

Damon Zirnheldt, of Zirnheldt Timberframes installing timberframe.

timber frame

Timber frame under construction.

Straw bale wall infill construction in progress

Straw bale infill wall construction in progress.

stacked, unfinished straw bale wall

Stacked, unfinished straw bale wall.


Interior 2nd coat plaster walls and freshly laid earthen floor