I’ll start this blog with a warning – it’s long. We of course like to make our blogs easily readable, but these ones are important because Shelby and I are also trying to understand what it takes to make a Living Building. So, you’re basically reading our research. Ok, warning out of the way, let’s do this.
Four of the seven Petals of the Living Building Challenge have been covered, Place, Water, Energy, and Health and Happiness. That leaves three to go. If you’ve read the past four blogs on their respective Petals, then you’ll know that meeting this certification will be filled with crazy challenges. We appreciate you all sticking with us as we talk through these Petals to better understand them! Believe me, we know they’re complicated. Imagine trying to figure out how to design a small house to these standards, let alone something much bigger.
To jog your memory quick, here’s that chart of all the Petals and their Imperatives:
We felt like two kids opening a long-anticipated gift. We tore through the plastic covering like hangry barbarians, eager to see this symbol, icon, of our dream…the very structure of our home.
Trash and wrappings strewn around, we admired the beauty of the Southern Yellow Pine. This will be the walls of our home. Our roof. Our floor. The floor our children will learn to walk on, the walls that will be covered in [maybe] heartfelt art projects, the roof which will shelter our family.
But it’s kinda funny how it is our dream. This little block is the beginning step of a crazy, ‘ballsy,’ dream which has had the wind knocked out of it a few times…pardon my French.
I told William that I want to make it into a picture frame. Carve out the middle, and put us and our eventually built home right there, in the center, surrounded by a carbon sequestering, beautiful wooden frame.
Yeah, it’s a block of wood. But it is our block of wood.
Before we begin, here are a few key terms…
Cross Laminated Timber (CLT): several layers of lumber boards stacked crosswise and glued (or through other means of attachment) together to form sturdy, thick, structural panels.
Sequester: to take ‘hold’ of. For example, trees have the ability to ‘sequester’ carbon as they grow, and release oxygen. Even if a tree is cut down, it still continues to ‘sequester’ that carbon. Once it is burned or it starts to decompose, it no longer ‘sequesters’ the carbon, and instead releases it into the atmosphere.
Again, here is ‘sustainable’ being thrown around like a hot potato. When I first started researching for this blog, I self-defined the ‘sustainability of CLT’ as such: “If CLT continues to gain popularity as a construction material, will forests’ health then be put into jeopardy?” If I found the answer to this question to be, “no, forest health will not be affected if CLT continues to rise in fame” then CLT was, to me, considered to be ‘sustainable’.