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Fire resistant houses




Foreword

From 2010 to 2015 I have designed different prototypes using different technologies to increase the thermal resistance of houses. Thermal resistance means that the cold from the outside does not go inside the house. The heat in the inside, does not go outside the house. "Thermal bridges" have a thermal barrier to stop the conduction of energy from inside / outside.

The purpose of my technologies was to increase the resistance of the building against thermal amplitudes such cold in the winter and heat in the summer. I was creating green technologies, what meant that I defined a road map and I created the technologies to match the road map. On my road map, 
  • I wanted to use as much hardwood as possible ;
  • I wanted to reach the highest thermal efficiency as possible ;
  • I wanted to maintain the cost of the construction low ;
  • I wanted to standardize the manufacturing in order to produce the house from the factory ;
  • I wanted to create an impact on the forest industry, increase the revenue of the sawmills and diversify their products;
  • I wanted the innovation to increase the resistance to fire.

Woods

In 2006, I passed a concourse oriented on the economy of construction and my project was preselected for the final round of the concourse. I realized that I had there something but I did not want to go to the final with all the consequences that this concourse would have meant into my life, so I withdrawn from the concourse. Yet, I continued working on the frame of my project and in 2010, I won a grant to finance my research. With the research, I have studied the economy of forestry to understand why oak and most local hardwoods are not used any more for building. I wanted to understand why green technologies don't promote hardwoods and there was anything that new technologies could change.

I have visited dozens of sawmills, organized tours for local politics and I have participated in round tables for the European Commission. I have worked closely with professional organizations and local administrations. I have seen how deep the system of forestry was managed to never produce any money. I decided to not work with timbers, too long to dry, to expensive, too heavy, too many fluctuations and uncertainty. I found a stock of junk wood withdrawn from the category of furniture. The wood was 8 cm thick, had too many flaws for furniture and too thin for construction. It was dry and the planks were long enough to design the frame of a wall. I decided to work with this wood. It was cheap, available in large quantities and easy to industrialize directly from the sawmill.


Some planks had bugs, mushrooms and large stains from the tannin. It was bent and irregular. I have turned this wood into a construction product. Clean green oak was sold $14.15/ cubic foot in 2012. Dry oak was sold $62.29/ cubic foot. I have valued how many cubic foot I needed to build a house and how much I was able to pay the material to keep the whole budget of a building under $111.48/ square foot. Softwood would have cost $9.34/ cubic foot. I have used 65% softwood and 35% hardwood bought $31.14/ cubic foot. I created a value of $16.99/ cubic foot on a product that was classified as a junk. I bought 353 cubic foot of oak to build a prototype of 1,615 sqf. The real value created was $3.71/ sqf, about 3.33% of the cost of the building. This value came with the definition of a new product with new technologies. The sawmill got $5,997 profit on the construction of the prototype.

Price of the (clean green) oak before valorization = $4,995
Price of the (junk) oak after valorization = $10,992
$10,992 - $4,995 = $5,997

With the profit, the sawmill has paid an employee for 3 days to transform the wood into lumbers of 3.14 x 3.14 inches. My purpose was to create jobs but also to create a value on the raw product to store it and dry it. A timber 3.14 x 3.14 inches square needs four years to dry. If the sawmill would have paid the employee $600 for 3 days work on the transformation of the wood, the revenue would have been $5,397 for four years storage,$1,349/year on 353 cubic foot.

The stock of junk wood had been stored for 6 years and would not have found any buyer unless maybe for furnace. If the wood would have been sold for the furnace, it would have lost value from the price of green oak because the cost of labor would have been the only margin. With the development of new technologies, logistics and financial tools on the building, we created an increased value to the industry of forestry on a product that previously was a loss. It nonetheless is a loss on this specific quantity of junk wood, but it is also a loss for the whole industry because the tree has been grown and cut. With the valorization of this part of the tree, we could put more money in the whole financial process to grow trees and to industrialize them.

To transform the timbers 3.14 x 3.14 inches into construction wood, I created a tool with old used machines. I bought a saw, I ordered a different head to transform the saw into a router and I installed a brake to control it. I have used this tool to cut grove and mortise into the dry oak, despite the nodes and the imperfections.



The bearing walls have been made with oak. The roof has been made with douglas fir. There are 2 structures inside and outside and a cross beam structure to solidify the walls. All the system has been tested with an engineering computer then calculated and approved for the permit.




The prototype has involved a geological test of the soil, an engineering test of the wooden structure, an engineering test of the insulation and the validation by different laboratories to certify the results. All the construction plans have been designed by the engineering laboratory accordingly to the Sketchup drawing I provided. The laboratory modified part of my design to comply with the building codes.


The 2 structures, inside and outside where separated with a gap that was the thermal barrier inside which I have created an insulation system to increase the thermal efficiency. To achieve all the thermal performance and innovate with existing products, I met manufacturers and industries.



I have chosen to build with Rockwool despite the many conflicts with the green ecological parties. Most ecologists are against open pits mining while I see the collection of basalt as much valuable as the collection of iron and other raw materials. The ecological problem that we face nowadays is not into the use and the production of those materials, but the way mining pits are opened and closed (read my article about mining companies)


I have hired a thermal engineer to pass the highest level of certification available at this time. He has valued the thermal efficiency on every corner of the construction, wall, windows, doors, junction between the walls and the roof, the roofing, the vents, the technical accesses and doors.


The result of the test which has been verified and certified has shown that this kind of technology with this kind of heater and cogeneration system for the production of water was using 31 kw/m²/year. This is 2.9799 kw/sqf/year or 4650 kw/year for a house of 1,615 square feet. The emission of CO2 was 1 on a scale of 100.



If I check my initial goals : 
  • Use as much hardwood as possible : 35% 
  • Reach the highest thermal efficiency as possible : 2.9799 kw/sqf/year 
  • Maintain the cost of the construction low : $111.48/ sqf 
  • Standardize the manufacturing in order to produce the house from the factory : 80% in the sawmill, 20% in the warehouse with a machine < $6,000 
  • Create an impact on the forest industry, increase the revenue of the sawmills and diversify their products : $5,997 / 1,615 sqf = 3.33% of the price of the building 
  • Innovate to increase the resistance to fire : oak and Rockwood with thermal barrier 
It is a common belief that green technologies cost more money. I wanted to prove that building with oak could cost less money to the final consumer and create at the same time a new source of revenue for the sawmill. 

This technology has been killed in the egg not by competitors, but by companies who are selling energy, who are promoting biomass energy from the forest to favor their business with Africa (read article on the Paris agreement) and are linked to international business with China, the same China that buy cheap wood in the G7 countries (read my article on the economy of wood). Those international companies are organized in a mafia linked to a secret network that kills, that destroys, that commit sabotage, that corrupts, that buy politics and that I could not fight. I still cannot fight, but it does not make me silent. All the work I have done has reached the goal to prove that hardwood was possible.

I was not rich. I was not influent. I did not have an industry to have my back. I did not have any politics to support me. I did not have any support. I was quite isolated when I made my demonstration and I became even more isolated when the mafia harmed me but... 
  • I did it 
  • I was certified 

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