Any one who has looked at my professional website knows that I have a longtime interest is responsible building. Since I started this blog I have been intending to write about some of these subjects. Not wanting to be repetitive in a field already stricken with information overload, I have delayed until I could find a fresh approach, which may or may not be now.
Either way, here is an image of what I consider to be my first real and pivotal experience with all things green. It is a gravity feed furnace, which, if the heating blogs are to be believed, should be disposed of posthaste. I was raised in a house, previously discussed, with one of these in the basement. It was complete with huge asbestos wrapped ducts that reached up to the floor supply diffusers located in every room. It had few moving parts, plus the added advantage of staying on even if the power went out. The one in our house was converted from coal to gas. As children we warmed ourselves by standing on the supply vents after coming in on freezing winter days. The house was a converted barn made tight with asbestos siding and warmed by natural convection. I never remember a draft or temperature fluctuation. We simply trusted that our house would be warm and comfortable all during many miserable Great Lakes winters. Of course the house has long been sold but it is actually possible that this furnace is still chugging away after what could be something like 70 years.
It wasn’t long of course before I moved on with life and entered the world of forced air furnaces, air conditioning units, and rattling radiators. Until, that is, 911 sent me, in an effort to save the world through architecture, running to a American Solar Energy Society trade show in Reno, Nevada where I found out that the convective heating system that I had taken for granted as a child had a modern day counter part in the form of a building integrated solar hot air heating system called OM Solar. I was hooked. Here are some diagrams. Follow the link to read more about how it works and I know these don’t look anything like the old furnace in the photo. Just stay tuned. There will be more later.