How to Heat a House with Geothermal Energy – Accessible Home – Bob Vila eps.1709



hi I'm Bob Vila welcome home again to our accessible house building project here in Roxbury Massachusetts today we're expecting a visit from our plumbers who are going to be installing a rather unusual shower stall made by Kohler for people with disabilities then I'm taking on a visit of a co housing project in Cambridge Massachusetts Co housing is an interesting alternative to private home ownership this one's 40 units had been built with modular housing ideas and mine is Lowe's geothermal heat pumps stick around it's good to have you home again Sears presents Bob Vilas home again well let's get started by interrupting Brad oh and our electrician up here how's it going good how are you today I bet now you're installing these exterior fixtures now why do you have that many wires coming out of the box they're breath well we've a series of Lights going on yeah we have three on the porch itself okay and we have three wall sconces as you come down the ramp okay so they're all in series correct in total of five and what kind of a fix are we putting in here this is a outdoor wall sconce two balises it's gonna hold the seven watt fluorescent bulb itself that's right this this uses the new kind of fluorescent does got that I like the weight on that very good quality it's like a cast aluminum exterior light and the advantage of these things is they last a long time and the energy state energy right I'll just say well go ahead and get that hooked up there the blacks to the blacks and the whites okay then you get your wire nut tightened up there and to my grounds last thing is to get the ground push these wires back in the box here yeah now these light Lear guys think of everything though you know with this little wires for gets a little safety cable right in case see how you taking off the shade itself exactly it won't fall so that when you're replacing the bulb at any point you don't have to worry about the actual light the last part of it falling and shadow correct looks good okay the safety cable one hand safety gave a line and that's all there is to it it's a handsome fixture looks good next a visit to the Cambridge Co housing development it's 40 units are constructed with environmentally friendly materials Ridgedale avenue in cambridge massachusetts is a pretty typical urban street with single and two family houses packed chock-a-block cars on both sides of the street and on this site where there once was a derelict printing shop there now are 40 houses but this is not a typical urban development cohousing is a concept that originated in the 1960s in Scandinavia and in today's tight housing market it's a very viable alternative for people who want to combine private homeownership with a better sense of community as well as environmental issues when noise from oaktree development is here to explain the concept come on over Gwen congratulations this has come together very very nicely yeah thank you tell us a little bit about how Co housing works it's a group of people who come together and in this case we sent out a letter and invited people to think about this in 1995 the beginning of it and they're people who are very interested in what living community is about and the benefits of cooperation as opposed to kind of all the disintegration of our culture in many ways so that exactly from the perspective of a village from the perspective of people living together that's what one thing that makes it unique right absolutely but it's not a cooperative in the sense of a New York City apartment building being cooperative ownership here everybody does own their own unit it's really a straightforward condominium the only difference is that we have a lot of common spaces and people were involved in the planning of it you're going to hear about our environmental agenda that we have a very strong commitment among the people here who wanted to do the things about the environment to do a sustainable community right that other condominium communities wouldn't care about so much so we'll see more about that later but right now you're in the process of moving in right and next week yeah yeah and this is your unit behind that's right this is this is a it's a town house there are three stories we have a basement also yeah we have on the ground floor there's a little garden which will be ours to do something when we take a closer look sure it's it's not nothing here yet but I'm going to I have great plans I'm gonna have a little fountain and and a terrace out here and I'll have a perennial garden and it's gonna be fun my kitchen where my husband and our contractor when Santa hurts somebody wrote on the door they're standing in the kitchen where we're going to have a little kitchen table and get the Morning Sun coming in let's take a look okay you saw on the second floor that we have three bedrooms in the bathroom and up here is the space that I really hope you'll like as much as a master bedroom yeah wonderful space now coming through the house you see or you get the impression that it's a very traditional house but I know that you've used non-traditional finishes right that's right we worked very hard to use sustainable materials such as this wood floor which is birch that's been sustainably harvested up in New Hampshire by the Carlyle restoration lumber mm-hmm it came out of the woods and they they sawed it into random with this yeah random winces that's a very wide one right there now what kind of a finish will you put on this to stay with the the the idea of naturalness well we were told that we'd bring out the beautiful grain at the wood if we used tung oil so we're gonna put several coats of thyme oil down and what about the paints on the walls the paint's are low volatile organic compound paint meant to keep the air quality inside a very high level we're being studied by the Harvard School of Public Health in that way that's showing how we've paid attention to no formaldehyde snow polyvinyl chloride air and it's going to be a very good environment inside absolutely I mean it's it's a wonderful direction to take housing in is to cut down the number of chemicals and man-made products that were breathing the bathroom floor looks interesting would use in there we have tile from Greece there it's to Marvin it's a marble tile and it's we again we were going with the principle of being white our walls are our light colors also so that we refract the amount of what did natural daylight as much as possible and of course you have a skylight in there the skylight over here in the closet and plenty of big windows what kind of windows did you use we use fellows Pro line that was a good compromise for quality and economy they are flowy glass and as big as we possibly could make them so they're writing in again and there's a very high quality window and there are very tight windows what I've always liked about them people need to use a lot of muscle yeah but it keeps out the winter winds and then out here you've got a fabulous deck yes we giving as much of this open space to everybody as possible yeah no I would love this because you've got not only your private space up here but you've got the feeling that you own this huge yard and all this open space now how have you accomplished all this because you're in an urban situation and I know that you've got 40 units here for one thing the city requires you to have off street parking right right well open space is a very big important thing for us we wanted to have gardens for the two kids to play in the vegetable garden we wanted to be able to play volleyball and and croquet out here and this is all part of the community right and if we use that 40 parking spaces on grade it would have been all gone so we decided to spend the money and put the parking underground so we have a big parking garage down there in this area here underneath and then you've got a yard and obviously you can't plant trees where you've got the underground parking that's right we built these ourselves the planters are for big trees so these boxes that are just being put down along the concrete line will eventually have big leafy trees providing a little bit of break up yeah we hope some some coniferous and some deciduous so we get a little bit of green in the winter too I must say I didn't build these several people in the community spent all of a Saturday really knocking themselves out to make the box but there again it's part of the cohousing except that you're getting everybody involved in improvements and in sharing whether it's sharing the vegetables or whether it's sharing the labor that's not like that all our units are completely self-sufficient they have kitchen living room dining room the spaces that they need we also have a common space which is a kitchen dining room living room that we can enjoy meals together with each other every week yeah three four times and then we have other spaces that people can share a library exercise room recreation space woodworking shop fabulous so then each individual owner doesn't have to worry about carving out space in his own unit for exercise space or a little bored working or whatever that's now are all the units the same as yours no there are different sizes we wanted to have the diversity of income and family size and be able to really accommodate all different lifestyles the smallest units are studios and then we have one bedroom loft style apartments and four bedrooms and Ed and Jean are living in one up there they're retired they're retired and we have multi bedroom townhouses like the one that Steven and Susan lived in and it's a completely environmentally friendly environment with fireplaces and plenty of space for growing families you've got older people you got the terrific mixed now another question I have is everything that we're looking at here is modular construction right that's right we had 120 boxes trucked down from New Hampshire from the Pembroke New Hampshire where the epic company is and it went together like a Chinese puzzle they were lifted into place by crane bolted and then they added the extra siding and it became one whole building which is a one project ya know it's always hard to believe what about the heat sources everybody share heat well it's a circuit district system provided by a ground source heat pump and it was designed by the Green Village consortium a group that is working with the US Department of Energy on a program called building America initiative sure and it's supported by the US Dept energy and here's George this is George James I've had a little bit of experience lately with some of these initiatives the path initiative to be precise we as part of that the Department of Energy so let's ask you a basic question here we've had 40 units and we've got one heat pump system now is it really cost-effective when you've got all these pumps and pipes well I think that if you compare this to what normally would be in the standard kind of construction where each unit would have to have almost his own heating source this is very economical what we're doing here right about where the flowers are is one of the well heads that goes down 1500 feet it's an 8 inch pipe going down there bringing up water groundwater yeah water at about 50 degrees this goes into the basement before you have those blue tanks in there that store the water the water goes into the heat pumps which essentially concentrate that temperature from 50 degrees to about 120 hundred 30 degrees right and that circulates around the whole building well that's one room down there compared to what normally they're building like this would be three or four rooms forty different units sure when they ran the analysis when the Hickory consortium ran the analysis this came out to be the least expensive way to heat the whole complex and it's really working very well it's terrific to see the Department of Energy as we approach the end of the century here really getting involved in mainstream construction it's great to learn about cohousing I know that you had oak tree development here in Cambridge you're gonna be getting lots of calls from our viewers want to know more about it thanks for sharing this coming up next the plumbers install the Kohler freewill shower stall made for folks with disabilities stick around okay now let's talk about installing a Kohler shower stall and it's not an average normal one this one's called the free will shower you'll notice it's it's it's pretty spacious and it's meant for someone who has you know a wheelchair-bound situation where they can get in and out of a wheelchair there's already grab bars in here there's a built-in seat and there's lots of modular elements that make for a very comfortable showering situation let's go around back and meet Jerry fullen who's our plumbing contractor hey Jerry how are you coming back there no tuba oh just starting out to install without here at the back now you've already put together other basic parts there just a basic part just a shower powerful mm-hmm yeah I'm gonna step on at the back there no too tight in so your assistant is on the inside putting in the shiny part the valve control this is an anti scaled valve right that's correct right and it'll have a lever instead of a knob let's see it's easier far rare for handicapped people to turn and on instead of turning on and on now of course the main feature though is that the fact that you don't have to worry about scalding situations well there is a setting on them that you can turn it down on the inside so this one I'm putting here at the moment just more of a good support for us and I can I got to give them this back in here I'm glad we get more on to that's temporary right that's just temporary there but she hasn't hooked up there now I'm saxophone yep it's tight okay then what's the next step there no we're gonna put on tool half-inch teeth which I have here for two air chambers okay this Simmons valve is a fast ripping off valve and the reason for that at the pipes of Bank if I don't put it on exactly at both of the hot and the cold feeds you're adding essentially a length of pipe that acts as an air chamber as an embryo and on both sides by having that that kind of air chamber allows the water to kind of swoosh into that chamber when the faucet is turned off in a hurry that's correct and in that way you avoid having the clanging Danny pipe laying pipes right so will you be soldering that yeah I wasn't a few minutes now so the air chamber is actually about 18 inches huh molding 18 inches to 20 I always got into a habit of cutting them at 20 inches uh-huh so I'm just leave them out 20 inches long times what you do all the time yeah okay apply the flux let's play this looks to teach you to solder that one I've bought the supply here now and we've brought both the hot and the cold feeds in above the unit through the ceiling because we didn't want to feed these from below since we've got a cross based situation below that's correct no any more no heated basement I'm afraid to kiss the fleas do make sure it's called eyeballing it yeah it's a lot quicker quicker after the tape huh it's my cold water no feet alright and this will be a little bit like an assembly line soldering operation because you pre-cut and flexed and fitted woohoo about a half dozen spots that have to be soldered now that's right okay and now you just slide it back into place and since the rest of the house isn't plastered this back wall which is an exterior wall has already been insulated and they've doubled up five eighths inch drywall here for rigidity when this thing goes up against it there we go squeeze out of there before pull it pushes back the rest of the way do a little shimmy there it's really heavy-duty construction it's not the kind of thing you just push one guy but there you have it that'll be the first of several very special plumbing fixtures that go into this bathroom we'll be back in a moment with a preview of our next show so don't go away that wraps things up come home again next time we're gonna be installing some of our specialty items like our Kohler lavatory and toilet which are specially designed for accessible needs also some grab bars and we're gonna be installing an elevator till next time I'm Bob Vila it's good to have you home again for lots of information and resources for your home improvement project check out my website at Bob diva calm

2 Comments

  • Shantel Bollmann

    April 15, 2019

    Just use InpliX instructions. you will make it. its so easy

    Reply
  • makinghomeenergy

    April 15, 2019

    with geothermal energy, the future of our planet and energy is already secure and bright… its time for us to do our share and use renewable energy..

    Reply

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