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Kiva's straw bale greenhouse
An alternative or natural building involves a range of building systems and materials that place major emphasis on sustainability. Ways of achieving sustainability through natural building focus on durability and the use of minimally processed, plentiful or renewable resources, as well as those that, while recycled or salvaged, produce healthy living environments and maintain indoor air quality. Natural building tends to rely on human labor, more than technology. As Michael G. Smith observes, it depends on "local ecology, geology and climate; on the character of the particular building site, and on the needs and personalities of the builders and users."

The basis of natural building is the need to lessen the environmental impact of buildings and other supporting systems, without sacrificing comfort, health or aesthetics. To be more sustainable, natural building uses primarily abundantly available, renewable, reused or recycled materials. The use of rapidly renewable materials is increasingly a focus. In addition to relying on natural building materials, the emphasis on the architectural design is heightened. The orientation of a building, the utilization of local climate and site conditions, the emphasis on natural ventilation through design, fundamentally lessen operational costs and positively impact the environmental. Building compactly and minimizing the ecological footprint is common, as are on-site handling of energy acquisition, on-site water capture, alternate sewage treatment and water reuse.

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This is what it looks like when finished.
Welding wood. This is a technique to join wood using scrap tin, such as that from a used can. Needed materials include:
1. Two sticks of wood to be joined.
  • Make sure the wood is in good condition where the connection is to be made. It should be clean, no bits of bark or loose paint, and no knots, as they are too hard for nails.

2. Two pieces of thin tin.

  • For the first bond, use a knife for cutting the tin from a small can for example.
  • Length and width equal to the stick diameter.

3. One piece of sheet metal.

  • For the final bond, use the tip of an axe or chisel for cutting the sheet metal from an oil drum for example.
  • Width 3x the stick diameter; Length 6x the stick diameter.

4. Some small, ~1 cm, nails for the first connection. 5. Some larger, ~2.5 cm, nails for the final connection.

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Project articles: Bloomfield Cobb Bench · Blue ox earthen oven · CCAT's living roof · CCAT Natural Paint Project · CCAT's Vermicomposting Bin · DIF Adobe Senior Center · Garden house cob oven · Kiva’s straw bale greenhouse · Recycling agricultural wastes to produce hot water (original) · Sunny Brae Yurt · Sustainably built cottage (original) · Tire shingles

Other articles: Bathroom Toilet Unit · Building with Pumice · Clay Brick and Tile Moulding Equipment · Concrete Block Producing Equipment · Construction techniques · Cooling · Cooling Homes in the Hot, Humid Tropics · Cordwood construction · Ferrocement Applications in Developing Countries · Greenmanure · Humus · Harvesting sheet metal · Heating · Humanure or reutilizing your own body wastes · Mastic · Monolithic Domes · Other manures · Pallet home · Quake Safe · Rice Hulls in Construction · Small Scale Production of Lime for Building · Structural Insulated Panels · Systems construction · Tetrapak roofing · Weld wood

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