By its very nature, Timber Framing is an environmentally conscious method of construction. It is durable and inherently concerned with structural integrity. This theory was recently put to the test when one of my homes endured the effects of a ferocious windstorm and a direct hit by a large pine tree—the Timber Frame stood strong, and only the easily-recycled, easily-replaced wood shingles we had used were damaged. This is not specific to my designs, however, and throughout much of the world, from Istanbul to Boston, you will find Timber Frames that are as beautiful now as they were 200 or even 500 years ago. This ability to last for centuries reduces the amount of resources used over a building’s lifetime. To this inherent longevity, we add stringent green building practices, which have resulted in very favorable Energy Star ratings for our homes.
In forested areas, Timber Framing has the potential to provide a sustainable, local, and ecological approach to modern building practices. Rather than putting money into the rapid timber cut cycles demanded by mass-produced wood manufacturing, which often results in flimsy homes that rely heavily on products such as plywood, we support high-quality, dense timber, which in turn supports slower cut cycles. By cutting at a slower and more sustainable rate, we create healthier forests that support wildlife and clean water. Your home will come from the forest in the most direct and rewarding way possible. My relationships with Forest Stewardship Council-certified sawyers—the people who are actually sawing the trees down—and local woodlot owners enable me to hand-select the trees that will be used in your home. Many of the naturally curving trees I select can only be used by masters of the trade, and thus these beautiful, intensely strong pieces would otherwise be discarded.
My homes intentionally blur the lines between nature and the handmade. On a practical level, this requires complete understanding of energy efficiency and the natural materials being put into your home. Before the custom design process begins, your site will be carefully analyzed for passive solar and cooling, light quality throughout the year, prevailing winds and aesthetics—the goal being complete house health and the creation of something that will nourish both you and the landscape it occupies for many years to come. Ultimately, even Green design can fail if it is not practical or beautiful, because a house needs to be both in order to survive the tests of use and changing architectural fashion.
The design process will keep all of this in mind. The spaces created in your home should indulge your senses down to the last detail. To ensure this, when I oversee the general contracting process, I finish a home in cooperation with stonemasons, cabinet makers, and likeminded artisans whom I have selected for their immense talent. Our homes are as functional as they are beautiful, and we incorporate high performance wall and roof systems, conditioned crawl spaces, insulated concrete form foundations, heat recovery ventilators, solar hot water heaters, and similar green technology.
Finding ways to minimize our impact on the earth is an ongoing process. Presently, we are addressing this by utilizing waste wood for fuel, creating on-site recycling, purchasing renewable energy credits and using Forest Stewardship Council certified timber.