lime based stucco that they used for the exterior on Desert Rain. But Elite Plaster isn’t using old world technologies just because they result in a beautiful end-product that requires the honed skills of classic tradesmen. This stucco also has a lower impact on the environment and results in a healthier home.

Scratching the Exterior of Desert Lookout: the Benefits of Lime Based Stucco

The ‘scratch,’ or base, coat of stucco is up at Desert Lookout and the team from Elite Plaster will be using the same, lime based stucco that they used for the exterior on Desert Rain. But Elite Plaster isn’t using old world technologies just because they result in a beautiful end-product that requires the honed skills of classic tradesmen. This stucco also has a lower impact on the environment and results in a healthier home.

 lime based stucco that they used for the exterior on Desert Rain. But Elite Plaster isn’t using old world technologies just because they result in a beautiful end-product that requires the honed skills of classic tradesmen. This stucco also has a lower impact on the environment and results in a healthier home.

Lower Environmental Impact

Most stuccos are made with Portland Cement which has many downsides:

Manufacturing cement takes a lot of energy.  For every ton of cement manufactured, about 6.5 million BTUs of energy are consumed.  In the production of each ton of cement, about one ton of carbon dioxide is released.  Experts estimate that cement production contributes to about 7 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from human sources.  For every ton of cement that is replaced by an alternative substance, we save enough electricity to power the average American home for 24 days, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions equal to two months use of an automobile.

Lime for stucco

The product applied to Desert Lookout is a mixture of sand, straw, bentonite, and lime – instead of cement.  Though not as commonly used today, lime has many advantages over cement.  It is a nearly carbon neutral material.

A Healthier Home

After construction is complete, the use of lime will have the additional benefit of making the stucco breathable – meaning it allows air-borne moisture to travel freely through, instead of being trapped inside the wall systems.

It stands to reason that moisture collection inside the walls would be bad for the Desert Lookout structure.  It’s also bad for the people inside. Moisture leads to fungal growth and there are a growing number of studies that link allergies, immuno-depression, and illness to the amount and type of fungal growth in a building.

Desert Lookout Stucco Process Stucco brings us one step closer to finishing up the exterior of Desert Lookout. Though the weather in Bend has been quite warm, we’re anxious to get as much of the exterior complete before the snow starts to fly.

 

Outside the Box

Barb, Tom, Ani Cahill, and Rick Martinson collaborate on some landscape and planting decisions.

Barb, Tom, Ani Cahill, and Rick Martinson collaborate on some landscape and planting decisions.

The structures at Desert Rain can hardly be described as boxes. I have used the term loosely to imply two things: One – the scope of the project is seeing a surge in outdoor work, hardscaping, landscaping; two- the work taking place outside is beyond the realm of traditional yardwork.

 

Construction of the ‘Miro’ wall is well underway. The curved, masonry wall is a continuation of the interior wall. It gracefully curves between the main house and the accessory dwelling unit creating a courtyard of privacy and a backdrop for the memorial tree planting for the ponderosa pine that was removed from the site.

Rick Siers with Kevin Spencer Masonry building the 'Miro' wall.

Rick Siers with Kevin Spencer Masonry building the ‘Miro’ wall.

 

 

Chris Hart Henderson and Ani Cahill with Heartsprings Design have been on board since the beginning of the project. Ani has been working on planting modifications and underground irrigation plans. The original landscape design utilized plants that could survive in extremely low water conditions. With the approval of the gray water system and 5,000 gallon storage tank for irrigation, the diversity of plants has grown.  Though she will still use native, dryland, Mediterranean type plant material, Ani said she is now able to ‘juice up the palette of plants, particularly in the inner courtyard, making it visually more exciting. She will also be increasing the edible plant percentage to help meet the Living Building Challenge requirement of 35%.  The graywater will be processed through a bio-reactive, constructed wetland. Whole Water Systems  engineered the structure that will contain plant material, rushes, and sedges that will treat the graywater as it percolates through the system – about a seven day process. The Desert Rain wetland is the first graywater system in the state to be permitted by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Permits with the City of Bend are pending.

The landscape plans continue to evolve  as new structures are added and more water is available for irrigation.

The landscape plans continue to evolve as new structures are added and more water is available for irrigation.

 

Native, drought-tolerant plants like these in the Wintercreek Nursery greenhouses, will be used at Desert Rain.

Native, drought-tolerant plants like these in the Wintercreek Nursery greenhouses, will be used at Desert Rain.

There is a collaborative effort taking place among landscape designers, landscape installers, and plant experts. Rick Martinson with Winter Creek Restoration and Nurseryhas joined the Desert Rain team. Rick has an ecology based approach to landscaping. He will be focusing on the steep, rocky west slope and the plantings in the constructed wetland area. Rick said the large rock outcrop on the west side has a diversity of microclimates as the rocks create pockets of intense heat, poor soil base, and shade.
Rick has worked with other green projects including LEED and Earth Advantage. He said Desert Rain landscaping will be a ‘demonstration of a system that functions with plant communities specific to the site to make the landscape sustainable. In his view, the demonstration aspect and the holistic approach of the Living Building Challenge is what makes the project important.

Winter Creek Nursery in Bend. Rick Martison and Karen Theodore specialize in native, local plant material.

Winter Creek Nursery in Bend. Rick Martison and Karen Theodore specialize in native, local plant material.

 

Thinking outside the box has been a necessary element in creating this Living Building Challenge project.  The landscaping and plant selections are no exception. The Desert Rain team of landscapers, with the designers and builders have been ‘cross-pollinating’ ideas to intermingle the structures with the outdoor spaces.  The landscape work will soon begin to blend function with aesthetics, to create a flow of inside and outside space. It begins by sowing the seed, propagating and planting, cultivating green growth and good living by thinking outside the box.

 

The Miro wall gracefully curves through the structure and emerges outside to enclose the courtyard.

The Miro wall gracefully curves through the structure and emerges outside to enclose the courtyard.

Simply Elegant

One of the cement sinks in the Cement Elegance showroom.

When most of us think of cement, we think of heavy, chunky, drab, gray, slabs that are usually elements of construction to be covered with a more aesthetically pleasing material. When innovation meets function, cement becomes beautiful and simply, a smart choice for building green. Desert Rain embraced the concept when the local Bend business, Cement Elegance came on board. Bayard Fox is the president of Integral Industries, doing business as Cement Elegance. The business has two primary areas of focus. The cement side is composed of NatureCast concrete – sinks, countertops, furniture, fireplaces, showers and floors. The other side of the industry is Eco Crush, manufactured stone slab products called ‘Crush’ – composed of  – recycled concrete, recycled window glass, and a plant based bio-resin.

The custom cement sinks and countertop for the master bath at Desert Rain in the process of final finishing.

The custom cement sinks and countertop for the master bath at Desert Rain in the process of final finishing.

Cement Elegance began work at Desert Rain with the polishing of the cement floors. Regarding the technique and results of the diamond polishing, Bayard said, ‘It’s a really good story for environmental building. You are using something that is already there as part of the structure’. The polishing technique turns the cement slab into the finished floor. This eliminates the need for additional materials. The floor is durable, beautiful, and has a long lifespan.

A custom countertop form laid out and ready for the first layer.

A custom countertop mold laid ready for the first layer.

NatureCast sinks and countertops will also be placed in Desert Rain. Cement Elegance has been manufacturing the product for 5 years. Bayard stated there has been an increase in use of concrete for countertops over the last 20 years. The product offers a unique and more natural material than the laminated plastics that dominated the industry for years. NatureCast has even more appeal for green building. It is comprised of local, Oregon materials – cement, sand, and water. The core of the product is made of recycled EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam. This is material that would normally end up in a landfill. With the addition of vitrominerals, an industrial waste product from fiberglass manufacturing, and advanced technology; NatureCast is lightweight, stronger, and crack free. It uses one-eighth the amount of concrete compared to a solid concrete countertop. Designs are based on templates, made to size so there is no cutting and no waste material. The cement and core material is sprayed into the form instead of being poured. The materials and process creates an engineered strength four times greater than traditional cement.

The shallow, water -saving, laundry room sink and countertop for Desert Rain.

The shallow, water -saving, laundry room sink and countertop for Desert Rain.

A countertop removed from the mold and curing.

A countertop removed from the mold and curing.

NatureCast concrete countertops and sinks are an environmentally smart choice and aesthetically beautiful for Desert Rain. Cement Elegance and Integral Industries is a shining example of the Desert Rain project gathering the ‘best of the best’. Part of the process of building a Living Building Challenge home is seeking out and supporting local businesses and contractors that embrace the concept and scope of the Materials Petal and its imperatives. Integral Industries is manufacturing products for environmentally friendly building. They are making choices about their products and processes with an awareness of their impact on the environment.

Environmentally Friendly Building Practices used by Integral Industries

    • local raw materials – carbon footprint/transportation
    • post industrial waste materials used – save the landfills
    • custom fit – eliminates waste
    • durability and longevity
    • due diligence in the procurement of raw materials and construction practices
    • promotes healthy indoor environment – no volatile organic-based perservatives
Some of the shipping container offices - part of the showroom at Cement Elegance.

Some of the shipping container offices – part of the showroom at Cement Elegance.

Like the concrete sinks and countertops on display, the showroom at Cement Elegance is a work of art as well. With stairs, catwalks, and creative placement; shipping containers are stacked and arranged like a sculpture inside the building. The individual containers have beautiful interiors and are rented as office space. Bayard Fox has a vision for business: make high-quality, durable, aesthetically desirable products; make use of post-consumer recycled waste, make as little impact as possible on the environment in the manufacturing process, make jobs and support the local economy, and to be sustainable as a business – make money. After visiting the showroom and shops, I would say it is a vision in motion – a simply elegant plan to create simply elegant products.

The simple elegance of a NatureCast sink.

The simple elegance of a NatureCast sink.

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