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The Log House
The Log House















The Log House Company
at
GRAND DESIGNS LIVE
London Excel


The Log House Company at Grand Designs Live London Excel May 2008

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Winner Greenest Product 2008
Why Build With Logs

The Log House Company roots originate back to 1984 as Traditionally Constructed Log Cabins; started after voluntary work for the native Indians in British Columbia, Canada.

We manufacture log buildings using Suffolk trees if possible - hand felled, peeled and then scribed to fit snug to the log below... Each build is unique and original- not to be confused with some imported machined “log cabins” no more than sheds and with very thin walls. This selection process ensures top grade timber and in respect to hand crafting of the log in the round – the outside and inside of the wall is the same log. This provides an exceptional strong, efficient and stable building. We do not do anything new, the traditional interlocking system has been used for centuries before – and now comply and can exceed the current
building regulations in the U.K.

Back in 1984, Green Issues were very much in their infancy in the U.K. and the building regulations policies could not accept Logs, (i.e. timber) as a suitable building material. Ironic – Logs being a staple ingredient to many buildings as long as man has been living in them.

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Where are we now?

Well, The Log House Company Ltd has proved to the building regulations some facts about real log buildings – some of them are listed below. After several meetings and proving these facts, we have been told we tick more green boxes than they can ask for.

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Thermal Values

Building regulations were blinkered to believe we needed cavity walls to meet thermal values. Indeed, totally necessary with most building materials; but wood has some fantastic properties, strength being one, Thermal efficiency being another. The Log House Company set about “proving” this. Ironically, again, when in Canada and colder climes where the temperature drops to minus 40 degrees, 12”-16” diameter logs are sufficient. In the U.K. however, we need to use logs of 161/2” average (420 mm .) diameter which can achieve a “U” value of 0.14 * See appendix 1. (with a layer of hemp/lime, we calculate a “U” value of approx. 0.12)

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Spread of Flame

There has always been a bureaucratic issue with fire. Most firemen can tell you how larger timbers in a burning building will withstand flame and keep the building structurally sound.  Tests have been done on a worldwide basis and the facts make brilliant reading – “the temperature on the hot side exceeded 1100oc (2000f), the cool side never got above 48oc (212f), even after almost 3 hours of burning” and “no structural deformation within 180 minutes in accordance to ISO 834.” * See appendix 2.

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Carbon Cycle

Things get even better – Initially the size of log required took The Forestry Commission and The Log House Co three days to find.  The logs were planted in 1935! 70 years old when felled.

Trees are normally harvested before 60 years, so these ones have effectively completed their carbon cycle to society. (NB- A young growing tree uses more carbon than an older mature one who has reached the end of its growing span and hence carbon cycle- (Appendix3)

Our trees are from managed forests i.e. FSC Timber (Appendix 4) and are hand cut so as to protect the outer layer, as this in the building gives the silky smooth un- machined finish inside and out. On top of the carbon saving above, the use of trees in a log building effectively “locks” the carbon in, for one square metre of timber, it is calculated that there is at least one tonne of carbon contained within. If we use say 45 tones of log, then a log house will store approx.45 tonnes of carbon- these figures are given out by various organisations with some discrepancy between them. On this too, there is a calculation that not only does a log build use less timber in the manufacture than a standard timber frame with less wastage, but also the actual operating efficiency will be approx. 25% greater- I.E. less expensive to run.

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Low embodied energy

Embodied energy is the amount of energy used to manufacture and transport materials. The trees are normally felled in either Tunstall or Thetford Forest and travel a few miles to Parham Airfield. The cutting process uses approx 2-4 gallons of fuel. From base to plate log (which takes the roof) –12-24 gallons of fuel (less than a lot of people use in one week going to and from work) and the same again biodegradable cooking oil for the chain. That, in nutshell is as much energy embodied in the log wall- plus some sweat! This type of build has an unrivalled low embodied energy- concrete and mortar for example are the other end of the spectrum and use phenomenal amounts of energy in their manufacture.
If anyone can tell us of a greener build, please do. The logs provide a warm feel finish inside, with aesthetics and strength and no need for further surfaces for either effect or protection bar weatherproofing.
(Appendix 5)

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Pressure Test

All new builds now require a pressure test, simply a method of checking air leakage, draughts etc from a structure. Air is pumped in and recorded on exit and calculated to a scale: 1 -10 producing a pass, 11 -15 a fail. Somewhere around 7 -10 would be an average new build reading with several fails thrown in. The Log House Co.  Tested at 2.63m3/hr/m2. This is a very high and efficient rating.  (See appendix 6)

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Can it get any better?

Well, yes! The building needs to be incorporated with eco friendly utilities… lighting, heating, water etc. These are identified in the Breeam code system (BRE-Environmental Assessment Method) –(Appendix 7) – Viz:  Energy efficiency/co2  – water efficiency  – surface water management  – site waste management  – household waste management  – and use of materials.

When incorporated sensibly with a house, which uses very little energy, yet gives so much back, the code should be 5 or 6 -

If we are serious in reducing the tremendous quantities of carbon from buildings, currently calculated at between 29% and up to 40% of our total output (Appendix 8) could we not use more environmentally friendly buildings?  We would be first to agree that a log building does not blend in with all surroundings. But there are several cases where a home grown, renewable, low carbon, low impact, green, thermally efficient and aesthetic build would.

They can be temporary if need be, taken apart and used elsewhere; or, as in parts of Europe, stand proud for centuries. – (Ironic again; most new builds expected life span is a mere 35 years.)

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Appendix:
  1. Thermal Calculations: Reference to a) Log Homes Council, The Energy performance of Log Homes, b) Dalibor Houdek c) National Research Council of Canada c) The Log House Co & Mullins & Dowse & JSH Ltd.
  2. Spread of Flame: Log Building News, Number 35, September 2001.Ref International Log Building Association.
  3. Trees selected are normally approx 70 years old – i.e. well in to their useful carbon cycle and less able to trap carbon.  A juvenile tree will absorb far more carbon than an older tree, hence effectively taking carbon out of the atmosphere.
    The timber used is from Tunstall Forest; some ten miles from the operations yard, helping again with minimizing pollution with low transport requirements.
  4. FSC Forest Stewardship Council, methods of ensuring supplies are from well-managed and maintained woodland.
  5. Ref Robert Chambers, Building with Logs
  6. Certificate of Building Air Permeability, Certificate Number 2362, September 2007.
  7. Breeam – The code for sustainable homes; Gildf-02-07 – Carbon emissions and renewable energy ref appendix 1-3, AECB – Association for Environment Conscious Buildings.
  8. Suffolk – Creating the greenest county; Sustainable building and development seminar.