Recently, I spoke with LA Pomeroy, a writer from Holistic Horse Magazine to discuss Blackburn greenbarns ™ and, in particular, the idea of implementing some sort of water conservation system into farms. I thought it might make for a good blog topic while I’m at it. (Also, be sure to check out her article featuring “10 Eco-Friendly Tips for Barns” in the September issue of the magazine.)
In the past I’ve written about harvesting rainwater (sometimes called stormwater), which can be very effective for a barn due to its large roof. Greywater systems, on the other hand, are created from the runoff/greywater from household appliances like showers, dishwashers, and washing machines. Of course, you’ll probably get some runoff from wash stalls or washing machines in the barn, but the amount of greywater from barns is somewhat limited compared with the potential from the roof. (Although, the laws for rainwater harvesting vary state by state. For example, it’s severely restricted in Colorado.) Still, a greywater system is something to consider for your barn as well as your home.
In any case, the most important factor to consider regarding water conservation systems is your needs, i.e., how much water is needed to clean a stall or irrigate the land. Since the size of the system largely determines its cost, you’ll want to make sure your system is designed to take full advantage to collect and reuse effectively.
Once your system is in place (note: many states require a permit from your local or city government), greywater can be used for any non-potable (non drinking water) needs for your barn such as landscape irrigation, washing horses, and mucking stalls. While soap residue found in greywater can actually add nutrients such as phosphorous and potassium to the soil, which reduces the need to fertilize, it can also contain bacteria or other harmful microorganisms that can be harmful. Therefore, greywater should never be used on vegetable gardens.
More affordable systems tend to be above-ground, so careful planning will help maximize the useable space around the barn while accounting for enough greywater storage to fit your needs. Also, depending on your location, greywater systems must be located within a designated distance from certain facilities, such as domestic water lines or septic tanks. A design professional or plumber can usually help specify a location as well as the appropriate pumps and equipment.
Another item to consider towards conserving more water in your barn is updating or carefully choosing plumbing fixtures. If you’re currently building, make sure to incorporate water-efficient plumbing fixtures. Or, retrofit your old fixtures by swapping out faucet caps and showerheads (if applicable) for water-efficient fixtures. Also, while it may seem obvious to some, be sure to seal any leaks in pipes.
Finally, you might think about updating appliances to save water. While there are definitely upfront costs, savings over time can be significant, not to mention significant to the environment. For example, high-efficient washing machines use less than 28 gallons of water per load. Traditional machines use approximately 41, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA also states that toilet models from 1992 and earlier most likely use about 3.5 gallons per flush compared with 1.3 for a WaterSense (a partnership program sponsored by the EPA) labeled toilet. Using those numbers, that’s approximately $90 in annual savings on your water bill.
Another appliance that can make a large impact on your water bills (and heating bill) is the water heater. This might make more sense for your residence, but solar water heaters are as the name implies: powered by the sun. When installed for domestic use, you can receive a tax credit of 30%. Tankless water heaters or instantaneous water heaters also conserve energy and need to heat less water.
Listen to NPR’s report on greywater: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105089381
I thought I’d share some photos of the ongoing renovation of the bank barn project in Ohio. The last time I wrote, the barn–which is being converted into a guest house–had just been relocated to a new position on the site in order to maximize views. (An important feature considering the extensive porch/decking that will outfit the rear of the barn.)
Recently, the crew installed SIPS panels on the roof and walls to insulate the barn without compromising the old barn’s interior. The exterior of the SIPS were then clad in reclaimed barn wood to give the exterior the same “old barn” feel as the interior while still providing the owner with the modern comforts expected in today’s homes. The original slate shingle was carefully removed and replaced with SIPS attached to the original roof boards. We never anticipated reusing all of the original slate, for fear that too much of it would break, but I’m happy to report that– in the end– no new slate was needed.
A lot of care has gone into maintaining and restoring the original character of the barn including the replication of the original rafter tails and the thin profile of the roof overhang. The four louver windows on the front and rear of the building were replicated as well as the large (soon-to-be-louvered) windows at both gabled ends. The louvers at the front and rear are hinged like an old fashion shutter, concealing the operable, double hung low-e windows. The large barn doors at the front can close across the entire window wall and entrance for maximum privacy or security.
The next phase will complete the interior work (including the grand fireplace that is a centerpiece of the large open living area) and construct the porch and decking at the rear of the barn.
One of our recent projects, Sagamore Farm, was written about in the May 10, 2009 issue of the Baltimore Sun. The article details the owner’s plans to revitalize the thoroughbred racing industry in Maryland.
One of Blackburn’s projects, The Rosemount Center, was in the news when actress Jennifer Garner visited the daycare and preschool facility to read and visit with students. The center was also recently honored by the Historic Mount Pleasant for the restoration.
In recognition of Earth Day, my firm announced a new division in design called Blackburn greenbarns. Starting with four ready-to-build horse-barn designs, we hope these barns are an affordable alternative to custom design. Of course, as the name implies, all the designs are green–in three ways: through passive design solutions, green materials and finishes, and additional design services to implement green systems such as solar panels.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about greenbarns and our new Web site at www.blackburngreenbarns.com. Please visit it and let us know what you think!
Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I haven’t forgotten. We’ve been busy developing a new project which I’ll share with you in a few days. We’re really excited about it and I’ll be interested to hear your (honest) feedback.
In the meantime, have you ever listened to Stable Scoop? It’s a show on the Horse Radio Network, which you can also listen to online. I was asked to be a guest for one of the shows. While I–like a lot of people–hate hearing my voice on a recording, I thought I’d share the link and introduce you to the show if you haven’t listened before. The two hosts, Helena B. and Glenn the Geek make for a pretty amusing show all-around. Just don’t mind the rambling guest architect!
Wayne Pacelle, of the Humane Society of the US, has a fantastic blog that I like to read whenever I get a chance. The other day, he wrote about an exhibit that just ran in Pittsburgh called “The Horse.” It ran in New York previously. Did any of you get a chance to check it out? I’d be very curious to hear your thoughts if you have.
With the spring and the peak of the racing season–the Triple Crown–just around the corner, I’m thinking of Sagamore Farm, a recently completed project in Glyndon, Maryland. This historic farm was once owned by Alfred G. Vanderbilt, II and served as the former home of Native Dancer, Bed of Roses, and Discovery, who are buried at the property. The current owner, Kevin Plank, purchased the ailing farm with the intent to revitalize the racing industry in Maryland. It’s still a work in progress but well on its way.
There’s been a lot of talk about how to revive the industry and whether slots—something several states have picked up to gain revenue for their struggling budgets—has what it takes to recapture the public’s interest in racing.
With projects like this, it’s hard for me not to feel enthusiastic about the future of racing. Sagamore Farm was in a state of serious disrepair when we began work, but the broodmare and foaling barns have been rehabilitated to reflect the highest standards of health and safety for the precious horses that inhabit them while retaining the integrity of the legendary property. Details like the red roofs as part of the red, black, and white color scheme, as well as the old roof ventilators were important to maintain when adding elements to reflect its new chapter in ownership. Natural light and ventilation become center stage with the continuous ridge skylights and vents.
To see the “before” and “after” photos of the barns really makes me hopeful that something big really is around the corner for Sagamore and Kevin Plank. With a home worthy of its precious inhabitants, I can see the legacy of Sagamore Farm and its champion thoroughbreds continuing.
I mentioned one of our current bank barn projects in my last entry and thought I’d post a few photos. This project salvages a historic German-style bank barn that fell into serious decay. The barn is undergoing renovation into a private family entertainment space. Once completed, the barn will have two bedrooms, two loft-style dayrooms, 3.5 baths, a family room with a stone fireplace as a focal point, a large kitchen, and other amenities. It will be perfect for the owner’s adult children and their families to stay during visits, as well as serve as a gathering place for parties or family dinners. But for now, you’ll have to use your imagination because the work has just begun.
The first step toward converting the bank barn was to actually straighten and stabilize the entire structure. Then, due to local zoning issues, the barn was moved to a new location off the road. That was definitely an interesting sight for neighbors and passersby–a barn being carted across the road. Now that the barn is structurally sound, construction can commence.
I’ll post more photos as the work continues.
Here’s a happy story from Wayne Pacelle’s blog for The Humane Society of the United States about a horse named Jamaica who escaped a trip to the slaughterhouse and went on to win the title of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Horse of the Year.