The longer I have lived in the Methow Valley the more firmly I believe in certain things. Here are a few considerations that have become important to me in respect to building smart and sustainably in the Methow Valley.


   To me the biggest priorities in building when possible should be orienting the home towards the Sun so as to integrate passive solar heating. This is sometimes difficult depending on the site. Equal in importance to benefiting from the radiant warmth of the Sun in the Winter is to protect from the overheating effects of the Sun in the Summer. I believe that these concerns should be addressed whenever possible, and can often happen while still producing interesting home designs, and capturing whatever view potential a site has.


   I strongly believe in the heating and cooling effects of the Earth. Earth bearming, and slab on grade construction are two ways to help capture the free heating and cooling capacity of the Earth. There is a wealth of local knowledge about how to capture and integrate these and other construction methods into one’s home design so as to receive what nature offers for free and benefit from the thermodynamic earth.


   Due to the extreme climate that we have in the Methow Valley I strongly encourage giving extra attention and budget consideration to insulation. Staying cool in the Summer and warm with efficient heating in the Winter are priorities everyone need consider; for their personal comfort, for their pocketbook, and for the sake of the planet. Insulation is a good investment and will provide many returns, many time’s over.


   The Methow Valley is known for it’s beauty. Most everywhere in the valley has unique and special views. I place high value on laying out homes and spaces so as to achieve maximum exposure to whatever view potential may exist.


   Some home designs clearly were not meant for this valley. Gutters do not exist here. Rain and snow splash and pile up against buildings. Consideration must be made in the design process for these realities. A roof must either shed snow well, or hold the snow. Roofs with valleys should be avoided if possible. Many people have learned the hard way about what kinds of roofs work and what one’s don’t. Ice dams, snow piling up where you don’t want it, large enough overhangs to protect from the elements, covering your decks if possible, protecting from the sun in the summer and yet getting the angle right so as to let the sun in in the Winter… there is more to a good roof design than one might think.


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