I took advantage of the beautiful sunshine and road my bike to downtown Saratoga Springs to make my sales calls for the upcoming Harvest edition of the new eco-Local Living magazine, when I saw the signs at the City Center for the Adirondack Living Expo. Being a big fan and supporter of all thing Adirondack, I had to stop in and check out what was going on. The event is now in it’s eighteenth season, and the promoters are taking advantage of the excitement that is downtown Saratoga in August to showcase the best of Adirondack craftsmen, green building technology and outdoor adventure.
The admission fee to get is in is well worth it. Inside the City Center, you eyes will be amazed at the creativity and craftsmanship of the work exhibited within. There are fantastic carvings of woodland animals, grandfather clocks made from whole trees, and host of contractors that can transform your noplace into a showplace. Best of all, from my perusal of the vendors, everybody is taking great stride to work with natural materials and working with natural systems to add value to your life experience and home’s efficiency.
An example of the fine craftsmanship is Fred Beckhorn, who builds furniture and home accessories that accentuate the beauty of wood, with minimal processing and modification. This table is one of his pieces, made out of cross section of a burl that grew completely around the tree.
Fred’s work highlights the beauty of the grain and the stress caused by burls and other deformities. The oval piece on top is actually the crotch of a double trunk, exposing the natural form of the wood as it begins to split into two. Each piece is an original, and many hours are devoted its final look.
When thinking about home remodeling, the kitchen is typically #1 on the list. Granite counter tops have been all the rage, but at a detriment to the environment. Most granite slabs are sourced from far away places on the planet, quarried in hazardous conditions, then shipped great distances to reach your kitchen. The fuel used in transport of these heavy slabs is tremendous, so even though granite is “natural” product, it certainly isn’t very green. There is an alternative, and you can find it at the Adirondack Living Show. Scott Suchan of Granville Glass and Granite was displaying granite slabs quarried from local mines in North Creek. This is the same quarry that yields the coveted Adirondack Garnet, which is seen scattered through out the slabs.
Since Adirondack Granite is local, shipping costs are minimal; the quarry is operated by Barton Mines, which has more than a 100 year history of providing local jobs and economic value to our region. Barton Mines also has plans to install wind turbines on its quarry property, adding valuable green energy to the grid. So by choosing Adirondack Granite as your replacement countertop, you are helping local jobs, reducing pollution, and even helping the development of green nenergy in the area. Not to mention the fact that these countertops are gorgeous!
The Adirondack Living Show is also a great place to learn about tips and tricks to maximize energy efficiency in your cabin in the woods. David Sellers of David Sellers Mechanical, Inc., has a nice demonstration of how radiant heating works. You can touch a sample floor and feel the warmth. David said that he can build a system that can utilize the natural heat provided by the sun. Capturing the thermal energy of the sun and storing it in an auxiliary water tank acts like a heat battery. The stored water can be used for radiant heat of living space and domestic hot water needs. With the cost of propane and fuel continually rising, a solar thermal system pays for itself in just a few years, said David.
Regardless of what method you use to heat your home, you don’t want to loose it to leaks and infiltration. The folks at Northeast Spray Foam have perhaps the best method available today to seal up a home and prevent heat loss. Doug Kwazneski had on display a very convincing demo of the three common insulation materials: fiberglass, cellulose and Icynene Spar Foam. A fan pushed air into the “house” to simulate infilration, and a ping pong ball placed over the “chimney” illustrated the movement of air and temperature differential. The Icynen house ping pong ball did not move, whereas the ping pong balls of the fiberglass and cellulose insulated houses floated on a column of escaping air.
Preventing heat loss this effectively obviously makes spary foam a green product. Doug then explained that Icynene has developed a new type of foam that is “greener” than any other, by utilizing caster oil in the formulation. Caster is a high oil plant seed that does not compete with food, like the soy based foams do. Plus, the caster oil content is 17%, compared to about 3% in soy based foams. The new Icynene foam is a combination of open and closed cells, giving it superior insulating properties. Its water based application is non toxic with off-gassing.
With such great attributes, using Northeast Spray Foam may very well be the greenest investment you can make for your home. Capturing heat is like capturing money. A penny saved is a penny earned. And you’re not only saving money, you actually helping to reduce our dependency of fossil fuels!
The Adirondack Living Show will be at the City Center all day Saturday and Sunday. Stop on by while enjoying this beautiful summer weekend – it’s worth the trip from anywhere!