The Extreme Green Makeover

of a Craftsman era duplex, built in 19296, 1549 sq ft, at NW 21st and McKinley Street in Oklahoma City

Better Times Cookbook | Justpeace | Better Times | BobWaldrop.net |Access to Energy Conservation

For information about our plans for adapting our"urban homestead" to meet the looming challenges of peak oil, climate instability, and economic irrationality, see Gatewood Urban Homestead, the permaculture design for our home.

June 18, 2007: Summary charts for energy use, 2003-2006 . The result of these renovations, 2003-2006, was a 50% reduction in the BTU use at this house.

Pre-existing features. High ceilings, many windows, roof overhangs sufficient to provide summer shade on the south, front porch.

Extensive shade landscaping, most of which is also edible. The house is shaded by mulberries, grape vines, redbud and some other miscellaneous trees and bushes. The lawn has largely been replaced by garden beds and clusters of edible shrubs. The beginnings of a hedge has been planted at the curb which eventually will help block heat coming onto the property from the street. At the height of the summer growing season, there are about 100 different varieties of edible or useful plants growing.

Ventilated attic. The attic has been ventilated with 12 soffit vents and 6 wind turbine vents.

Extensive caulking. Before proceeding with the insulation work, we used 90 tubes of caulk and 20 cans of foam. We suggest using the book "Insulate and Weatherize", a "Taunton Built it like a pro" book, as a guide to caulking.

Extra insulation. The attic has been insulated to R-50, and the walls to R-33, with cellulose insulation. To get this much insulation in the walls, we first filled the existing walls with cellulose insulation, then we built new interior walls 5 inches inside of the existing interior walls, all along the exterior walls of the house. We then filled those new walls with insulation, giving us 9 inches of insulation in the walls.

Windows and doors. We replaced our windows with double paned, argon filled, low-e coated windows. We replaced the doors with pre-hung insulated doors. We also installed storm doors over the exterior doors.

Solar sunspace. We converted our south facing utility room into a solar sun space. This involved tearing off the brick exterior and removing the wooden siding underneath that, building new headers to hold the weight of the room, and installing six floor to ceiling windows. These windows are all double paned, but they are not argon filled or low-e coated. Four of them were standard size patio doors, 2 of them are of the same style installed elsewhere in the house and are double hung so they open at the top and the bottom. This sunspace has two doors, one facing east, the other facing west. We also removed the wall that divided the area into two rooms (the house was once a duplex). Tom Temple assisted us in this renovation.

Ventilation. We installed a low-power whole house fan made by Tamarack Corp. We have several other fans scattered throughout the house, and each room has at least one ceiling fan (large rooms have 2). The whole house fan moves hot air out of the house into the attic and then out the vents.

Cooking and hot water. We decided to disconnect from the natural gas system entirely, so we installed an electric stove. However, we also picked up a table-top convection oven, crockpot, and electric skillet, and we use those for cooking as much as possible instead of the stove, they are more efficient for cooking. We installed an electric water heater, and had the electrician install an on-off switch so we can turn it on only when we need hot water. We wrapped it with fiberglass insulation. We generally only turn it on twice a week for 2 hours.

Typical household operating procedures. When we started the retrofit, we had not had air conditioning since 2001. For the summers of 2006 and part of 2007, we continued to use passive cooling techniques that we had developed. In the summer, we ventilated the house at night by opening all the windows and doors and turning on the whole house fan. We closed the house up about 8 AM in the morning, turn off the whole house fan, but keep the ceiling fans and other fans operating in occupied rooms. We covered the south facing windows of the sunspace with sheets of rigid board insulation during the day. Although the sun does not hit those windows directly because of the roof overhangs, heat is conducted inside through those windows from the ambient heat outside. During the winter, we reverse this process, and cover the windows at night with the rigid board insulation but uncover them during the day so sunlight and thus heat will enter the house. In the summer we cook outside to reduce heat and humidity build up inside.

In the summer of 2007, we decided to try air conditioning. We bought three window units, but after about a month, we determined that we could keep comfortable with only one, 5,000 btu window unit operating. Our passive cooling techniques worked well in terms of minimizing heat build-up in the house, but they could do nothing about the humidity. According to the product literature, our little 5K btu window unit is designed to cool a room of 120 sq ft, but our house is 1,548 sq ft. We think it is likely that it is mainly functioning as a dehumidifier. We use it on high humidity days. When the humidity is lower, we revert to our passive cooling techniques. It looks like this use of air conditioning increases our btu usage by about 10%. Even with increased energy prices in 2008, however, our moving 12 month average electric bill is only $70 - for everything: heating, cooling, hot water, cooking, entertainment, ventilation. Note that in the winter of 2007-2008, we pretty much stopped using our wood burning stove. Besides the heat from the passive solar sunspace, we used one portable oil-filled electric heater, usually operating at the middle of the 3 settings. (This is one of those heaters that looks like an old-fashioned steam radiator.)

Performance thus far. In the winter, on days when the sun was shining early in the morning and all day thereafter, we do not need much if any back-up heat. One morning it was seven degrees outside and 61 degrees inside with no heat operating. During the summer, using passive methods we generally maintain a 10 to 15 degree advantage on the outside temperature, which is further reduced ten degrees by our fans. We do better when the night-time temperatures are 75 degrees or lower, as our passive system is based on cooling the house at night and then resisting the infiltration of heat during the day.

Still on the drawing board. We have several projects yet to be implemented.

+ Porch-arbors over the southeast and southwest corners of the house. The southwest is the one part of the house that is not sufficiently shaded.

+ Move our summer kitchen from the front porch (which is on the opposite side of the house from the inside kitchen) to the southeast corner, but we need a porch there to do this.

+ Install a rainwater harvesting and storage system.

+ Build a root-cellar/tornado shelter.

+ Interior vents to facilitate the movement of air (these will generally be above each interior door).

+ Interior shutters to replace the large sheets of insulation we are moving around.

+ Replace freezer and refrigerator with more efficient models.

+ Install a solar water heater.

+ Crawl space. We have not at this time developed a plan for the crawl space, but we are working on it.

2007 Update:

I am studying to become a certified permaculture designer with Dan Hemenway of Barking Frogs Permaculture ( www.barkingfrogspermaculture.org ). As part of that process, I am preparing a permaculture design report for our property, with a detailed 5 year plan to complete this 'extreme green renovation'.

2008-2009 Update:

For information about our plans for adapting our"urban homestead" to meet the looming challenges of peak oil, climate instability, and economic irrationality, see Gatewood Urban Homestead, the permaculture design for our home.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Table of Figures....................................................................................................... 17

List of Tables ........................................................................................................... 20

1.0 INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................................... 21

1.1 Clients ............................................................................................................... 22

1.2 Site description.................................................................................................. 25

1.3 Community ........................................................................................................ 32

2.0 DESIGN RECOMMENDATIONS...................................................................................... 36

2.1 Earth Works and Nutrient Management ............................................................ 37

2.1.1 Earth Works 37

Soil 1 Build retaining walls at the curbs, raise the level of the yard closest to the retaining walls and shape the soil levels so that the ground slopes towards the center of each yard section that is west of the north-south public sidewalk..................................................................... 37

Soil 2 Build a swale and berm system in front of the house.......................... 40

Soil-3 Build retaining walls west and north of the house. .............................. 43

2.1.2 Nutrient Management ..................................................................................... 45

Soil-4 Replace Bermuda grass with other ground covers. ............................ 45

Soil-5 Mulch areas not planted to ground cover............................................ 46

Soil-6 Convert an old bathtub into a vermiculture project. ............................ 46

Soil 7 Compost in place. ............................................................................... 48

Soil 8 Grow additional compost/green manure crops. ................................. 50

Soil-9 Plant cover crops that boost soil fertility.............................................. 51

2.1.3 Food Production ............................................................................................. 52

Food-1 Increase the area for food production............................................... 52

Food 2 Re-work the growing beds in the garden area west of the house. ........................................................................................................... 53

Food 3 Use all of the growing season.......................................................... 55

Food 4 Make a plant spacing grid. ............................................................... 55

Food 5 Use companion planting techniques. ................................................ 55

Food 6 Grow crops vertically to increase production in your limited space. ........................................................................................................... 55

Food 7 Use your sun porch as a greenhouse. ............................................. 56



Food 8 Make cold frames to increase winter food production....................... 56

Food 9 Preserve heirloom plants and save seeds. ....................................... 57

Food 10................................. Increase production of food producing legumes.57

Food 11 Increase your production of multiplying onions, shallots and Egyptian onions. ........................................................................................... 58

Food 12 Plant and cook alternatives to summer squash ............................. 58

Food 13 Keep good garden records. ........................................................... 59

Food 14 Add more perennial food/useful plants to the garden. .................... 59

Food 15 Learn good pruning and grafting techniques. ................................. 59

Food 16 Make improvements to the fruit tree area north of the house. ........ 59

Food 17 Increase production south of the storage building. ......................... 60

Food 18 Use the perimeter of the property for food production. ................... 61

Food 19 Build more vertical growing structures. .......................................... 62

Food 20 Plant a medicinal garden. ............................................................... 64

Food 21 Monitor the shade cast by the perimeter hedge.............................. 64

Food 22 Build a planter box by the sunspace. .............................................. 64

Food 23 Make a container garden on the driveway. ..................................... 65

Food 24 Create a greenhouse/fish culture system in the storage building. ........................................................................................................ 66

2.1.4 Food processing and storage 70

Cook 1 Build an outdoor kitchen and deck.................................................... 70

Cook 2 Build a root cellar/tornado shelter. .................................................... 72

Cook 3 Get the equipment you need for food processing and preservation. ................................................................................................. 77

Cook 4 Build a solar food dryer..................................................................... 77

Cook 5 Create a food preparation area in the kitchen. ................................. 78

Cook 6 Create more food storage places. .................................................... 79

2.1.5 Human Excreta Management. 80

Waste 1 Use urine as fertilizer. ..................................................................... 80

Waste 2 Build a chopped straw toilet. ........................................................... 80



2.2 Shelter ............................................................................................................... 82

2.2.1 The house 82

Shelter 1 Develop better accommodations for guests and travelers............. 82

Shelter 2 Decorate walls with musical instruments. ...................................... 82

Shelter 3 Don't tear out the natural gas chimneys and fireplaces. ................ 82

Shelter 4 Plan for meetings and acquire suitable equipment. ...................... 83

Shelter 5 Enclose the front porch.................................................................. 83

2.2.2 The storage building 84

Shelter 6 Repair the Storage Building Roof with an eco-friendly roofing material. ........................................................................................................ 84

Shelter 7 Renovate the porch and exterior of the storage building. .............. 84



2.2.3 Privacy Improvements 85

Shelter 8 Reinforce your perimeter hedge .................................................... 85

Shelter 9 Build a fence to connect the house and the storage building. ....... 86

Shelter 10 Build a front gate. ........................................................................ 87

2.3 Access............................................................................................................... 88

Access 1 Choose more eco-friendly methods of travel ................................. 88

Access 2 Refurbish the electric assist bicycle and purchase an adult trike. .............................................................................................................. 88

Access 3 Bicycle route to Bob's work ........................................................... 89

2.4 Energy ............................................................................................................... 90

2.4.1 Passive heating and cooling 90

Energy 1 Do a Home Energy Audit of the house. ......................................... 90

Energy 2 Learn how to operate your passive solar heating and cooling systems......................................................................................................... 90

Energy 3 Install grills to facilitate ventilation and heat transmission.............. 90

Energy 4 Grow more summer shade. ........................................................... 92

Energy-5 Create shade for the solar sun porch. .......................................... 93

Energy 6 Make some improvements to the house's insulation. .................... 93



Energy 7 Use area rugs in the winter............................................................ 94

Energy 8 Make R-20 insulating shutters for the windows. ........................... 94

Energy 9 Trim the elm tree to allow more winter sunlight to shine on the sun porch. ............................................................................................... 99

Energy 10 Optimize the efficiency of your solar sun porch. .......................... 99

2.4.2 Wood stove 100

Energy 11 Follow important wood stove safety recommendations to protect the household. ................................................................................ 100

Energy 12 Harvest wood from your lot and neighborhood. ......................... 101

Energy 13 Move the wood storage. ............................................................ 102



2.4.3 The Storage Building 103

Energy 14 Build an alternative energy system for lights in the storage building. ...................................................................................................... 103

2.4.4 Materials Cycling and Waste Management 104

Energy 15 Create a materials cycling center in the utility room. ................. 105

Energy 16 Place additional materials cycling containers in areas of high use. ..................................................................................................... 105

2.4.5 Other Energy Issues 105

Energy 17 Monitor appliances' energy consumption................................... 105

Energy 18 Improve the household's laundry arrangements. ....................... 105

Energy 19 Install a solar hot water system. ................................................ 106

Energy 20 Recharge small batteries with solar power. ............................... 107

2.5 Water ............................................................................................................... 108

Water 1 Install a rainwater harvesting and storage system......................... 108

Water 2 Develop an appropriate gray water recovery system. ................... 118

Water 3 Find the hand pump wells in the neighborhood. ............................ 118

Water 4 Develop a household water purification system. ........................... 118

Water 5 Use water pots or jugs in the ground to water plants.................... 118

Water 6 Install a "speed bump" on the driveway to intercept water runoff and direct it into the yards...................................................................... 119



Water 7 Build a pond between the storage building and the water tanks. .......................................................................................................... 120

2.6 Community ...................................................................................................... 122

2.6.1 Markets, job opportunities 122

Market 1 Develop a contingency plan if one or both of the household's "day jobs" go away...................................................................................... 122

2.6.2 Implementation skills available for hire or barter. 122

Barter 1 Trade skills to save money on renovation. .................................... 122

2.6.3 Material resources for design implementation and management 122

2.7 Economics...................................................................................................... 123

Budget 1 Increase your monthly principal payments in order to pay off your debts in an accelerated manner.......................................................... 123

2.7.1 Budget and narrative .................................................................................... 123

2.7.2 Analysis of on-site income potential 128

Econ 1 Make and sell artistic rosaries. ....................................................... 129

Econ 2 Sell plants that are not normally available from local distributors. ................................................................................................. 130

Econ 3 Present "Applying Permaculture Design Principles in the Kitchen" workshops as a source of income. ............................................... 130

Econ 4 Make bulgur wheat and sell it through the coop. ............................ 131



2.8 Hazards ........................................................................................................... 132

2.8.1 Tornadoes and straight-line windstorms 132

Hazard 1 Build a tornado shelter/root cellar................................................ 132

Hazard 2 Update your tornado contingency plans pending the construction of the tornado shelter.............................................................. 132

2.8.2 Lightning 133

Hazard 3 Maintain your Uninterruptible Power System .............................. 133

Hazard 4 Suspend outdoor activities when lightning is present. ................. 133

2.8.3 Fire 133

Hazard 5 Acquire additional emergency equipment ................................... 134

2.8.5 Interruption in regular food supplies. 134



Hazard 7 Support your local food system................................................... 134

Hazard 8 Store 2 year's supply of food. ...................................................... 134

2.8.6 Fuel storage (wood and propane) 135

Hazard 9 Store at least two cords of wood. ................................................ 135

Hazard 10 Store propane............................................................................ 135

2.8.7 Severe cold, blizzards, ice storms135

Hazard 11 Prepare properly for winter travel. ............................................. 135

2.8.9 Loss or contamination of the city water supply 136

Hazard 13 Increase your household water storage. ................................... 136

2.8.10 Falling tree limbs 136

Hazard 14 Trim limbs that threaten the property......................................... 137

2.8.11 Interruption of Centrally Generated/Grid Distributed Electric Power. 137

Hazard 15 Maintain a basic non-grid dependent electricity backup. .......... 137

2.9 Staging ............................................................................................................ 139

YEAR I: The Year of Getting Ready 139

YEAR II: The Year of Growing 154

YEAR III: The Year of Water 163

YEAR IV: The Underground 166

YEAR V: The Final Touches 168

3.0 APPENDICES........................................................................................................... 172

Appendix 3.1 Client survey.................................................................................... 172

Appendix 3.2 Resources (places to get info and skills support) ............................ 259

Appendix 3.3 Suppliers.......................................................................................... 265

Appendix 3.4 References ...................................................................................... 275

Appendix 3.5 Species lists..................................................................................... 279

Appendix 3.6 12 years of climate info on rainfall, wind, and temperature.............. 294

Appendix 3.7 Existing features of the property. ..................................................... 309

Appendix 3.8: Notes on the social and economic history of the region.................. 310

Appendix 3.9 Bus route information....................................................................... 314

Appendix 3.10 Resources and plans to assist in implementing this design........... 315



Appendix 3.10.1 Food storage list 316

Appendix 3.10.2 Suggested Mulch Materials 318

Appendix 3.10.3 List of recommended food processing and preserving quipment 319

Appendix 3.10.4 Oklahoma Extension publications on home gardens.321

Appendix 3.10.5 Oklahoma Extension publication on pruning fruit trees.322

Appendix 3.10.6 Notes on building trellises. 323



Appendix 3.11 Calculations for determining heat loss through walls and the

benefit from various levels of insulation. ................................................................ 325

Appendix 3.12 Ideas for Community Involvement ................................................. 327



Develop urban permaculture demonstration sites....................................... 327

Use your memberships, leadership roles, and community contacts to

involve your community in permaculture..................................................... 327

Support the local food system..................................................................... 327

Host teams of students for "alternative spring break" programs. ................ 328

Assist gardeners in low income areas. ....................................................... 328

Develop an "Applying Permaculture Principles in Kitchen Designs"

workshop. ................................................................................................... 329



Appendix 3.13 Soil Test Reports ........................................................................... 330

Appendix 3.15 Book List ........................................................................................ 332

General ....................................................................................................... 332

Shelter, Energy, Material/Resource Cycling ............................................... 332

Growing, Eating, Preserving, Brewing, Household ..................................... 335

Design for Health ........................................................................................ 340

Local Economics......................................................................................... 342



Appendix 3.16 Index.............................................................................................. 343



Table of Figures

Figure 1: Bob Waldrop (left), Sean Kay (right) ............................................................. 22

Figure 2: Base Map....................................................................................................... 27

Figure 3: House Base Map .......................................................................................... 28

Figure 4: West of house, looking north ........................................................................ 29

Figure 5: From front porch, looking north.................................................................... 29

Figure 6, Looking east across front yard...................................................................... 30

Figure 7: View from the south at front yard of storage building and sun porch of the house. .......................................................................................................... 30

Figure 8: Sun porch ..................................................................................................... 31

Figure 9: Front view of the storage building plus south end of house .......................... 31

Figure 10: Full view of west side of house ................................................................... 32

Figure 11: Location of the retaining walls west of the house along McKinley Street. ................................................................................................................ 40

Figure 12:...Map showing location of berm south of the east-west public sidewalk on the contour line. ................................................................................................................. 41

Figure 13: Swale and channels north of east-west public sidewalk. ............................ 43

Figure 14:Location of the west side retaining wall along the house side of the north-south public sidewalk.................................................................................................... 45

Figure 15 Location and depiction of vermiculture project. 48

Figure 16: Additional growing areas.............................................................................. 53

Figure 17: A sample plan for the intensive garden area............................................... 54

Figure 18: Yard with water tanks and garden beds....................................................... 61

Figure 19: Location of new arbors................................................................................ 63

Figure 20: Location and floor plan of summer kitchen. ................................................ 71

Figure 21: Location of cellar.......................................................................................... 74

Figure 22:.Location of fence, cellar, and new courtyard sitting area.87

Figure 23: Locations for ventilation grills. ..................................................................... 92

Figure 24 Location for storing sun porch shutters. ....................................................... 98

Figure 27: New location of clothesline. ...................................................................... 106

Figure 28: Base map showing water tanks (blue circles). .......................................... 109

Figure 29: Location of water storage tanks north of house. ....................................... 117

Figure 30 General design of arbors with side details for summer kitchen arbor and house and storage building arbors...................................................................... 324



List of Tables

Table 1 Budget……………………………………………124

Table 2 Year 1 Implementation recommendations without pre-requisites. ……………………………………………..139

Table 3 Year 1 recommendations with prerequisites….141

Table 4 Other Year 1 recommendations………………..141

Table 5 Year 2 recommendations without pre-requisites. ……………………………………………………………….154

Table 6 Other Year 2 recommendations.……………….155

Table 7 Year 2 recommendations with pre-requisites…155

Table 8 Year 3 recommendations without pre-requisites.

………………………………………………………….163

Table 9 Year 3 recommendations with prerequisite….163

Table 10 Year 4 recommendations……………………..166

Table 11 Year 5 recommendations…………………….170



For more info, visit www.barkingfrogspermaculture.org , www.bettertimesinfo.org , www.energyconservationinfo.org or call Bob Waldrop, 405-557-0436