Eco-Friendly Homes

ISN'T IT WONDERFUL when your work and your interests cross paths?

So it was with me when I was asked on many occasions to photograph exciting, innovative homes. These are not just your regular bedroom community homes, dependent on the power grid and fossil fuels, but houses that work like machines, using their location and orientation to take advantage of the natural resources available to us at no cost.

My own house, a passive solar saltbox in East Jordan, Nova Scotia, was built with my own hands, with help from my wife Susan and a builder-friend, Tim Murphy, It was carefully aligned with the sun to maximize solar gain, and the majority of the windows were on the south side. We found solar south by pounding a stick in the ground at the building site and tracked the shadow it cast. The longest shadow during the day gave us the north-south orientation. 

The house was insulated to the extreme, even using low-density cement blocks in the chimney to minimize the transmission of heat to the outside. A small cast iron woodstove was the mainsource of heat – plenty for such a well-insulated house – with electric baseboards as a back-up (should we be away for any length of time during the winter).

That's why I was so intrigued to see what other energy-conscious home builders were doing during my photo assignments. Many thanks to Harrowsmith (and othe rmagazines) for choosing me.