Residential Design

VOL.2 2018

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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the envelope and keeping the cold out- side. The next big complication is the inevitable buildup of moisture. "When you were a kid, remember how you wore that plastic rain coat in the rain? You ran around and around, and ended up as wet on the inside of that coat as on the outside? Moisture in the house is like that trapped layer of mois- ture in the plastic coat," Matt explains. "Basically, a passive house is a regular house with a big coat on it. It's literally a 2x6 or 2x8 sheath with additional insu- lation. Our walls are a foot thick. What we use to handle the moisture is Roxul because it's vapor permeable." GO Lab The custom work is moving along at a nice pace, and the institutional work is gathering steam, so to speak—but what excites Matt and Alan the most these days is their new venture with material chemist Joshua Henry: the GO Lab. With Joshua, the team is work- ing on a new product that takes wood waste from local mills and turns it into low-density fiberboard insulation. "Right now, the material is only made in Europe and is prohibitively expensive to import. Meanwhile, Maine has all of this forest products capacity and mills that are going out of business. The mills used to sell their residuals to make cat- alogues for retailers. When the internet came around, they were caught flat foot- ed. The mills need to sell the residuals to balance the books." says Matt. "LDF is an amazing product. You take the wood chips, grind them up like a mill, add about 5 percent paraffin and some poly-adhesives—but no formaldehyde— and then, with high steam pressure, you take them through a conveyor press. The steam activates the adhesives and the whole thing wants to expand, but you have it in a press. It all hardens into a rigid board. It has lots of air in it—and it really is just a bunch of wood chips. The steam and energy to run the plant comes from a biomass boiler." If you're an environmentally in- clined designer/builder, this is all pretty heady stuff. The GO Lab has a proto- type and is currently working to line up investors to get the factory going and the product to market. Says Matt, "We're trying to hustle this thing along as quickly as we can." On-the-GO Home So there's the architecture side of the company steered by Matt, there's the research and development side led by Joshua, and there's the construction side that is Alan's emphasis. To liberate the architecture side to push for larger-scale projects, the company has also launched a separate, fulsome website for its pre- "It was important for the house to . . . convey with clarity the message that the future isn't so bad— it's actually kind of fun." —Matt O'Malia Clockwise from the top: The Cousins River Residence plan is a single-level, 1,700-square-foot passive house with an optional 656-square-foot garage. It has three bedrooms, two baths, a screened porch, and two decks for ample indoor/outdoor living. Photos this page: ©Trent Bell 25 VOL. 2, 2018 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGA ZINE.COM

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