Steve Pallrand and Home Front Build are out to prove the beauty and the benefit of sustainable architecture.
By Cuyler Gibbons // Photo by Brooke Mason
“Carbon free” seems to be the environmental brass ring of the moment, the gold standard of the green movement. But what does it really mean? If you land on the side of science, there is no doubt that human activity is impacting our environment in negative and potentially globally catastrophic ways. One expression of the impact of that activity is what’s known as the carbon footprint. That is the total greenhouse gas emissions generated by an individual or process, expressed as a volume of carbon dioxide (CO2) or its functional equivalent.
An American individual generates, on average, 20 metric tons of CO2 (or the equivalent) every year, compared to a global average of about 4 tons per person per year. Clearly if there is a solution at hand, it’s going to have to begin in the U.S. Steve Pallrand and his company Home Front Build believe they are constructing part of that solution today. Home Front Build was well-known for the craftsmanship and expert fealty to period architecture Pallrand’s projects displayed. His secret weapon was the salvage operation he ran whenever he got wind of the imminent destruction of some long-neglected Craftsman bungalow.
Pallrand wasn’t interested simply in the fixtures and knobs and other aesthetic gewgaws, however authentic. He was there for the lumber, too—the structural material of the house. “When a two-by-four was actually 2 by 4,” he says. “Most often this material ends up as wood chip in a land fill. But I can take it and build something else with it.”
Eventually Pallrand looked around his stockyard and realized he had “about three full houses of material sitting there.” With a business already committed to sustainable principles, Pallrand set out to design and build a carbon-footprint-free house, or as near to that ideal as is possible. He also committed to documenting and measuring the entire process, thus producing a public resource that others could use.
That house is under construction now and we’ll be checking back in a couple of months to take a look at what Pallrand hopes will be a tangible lesson in the art of sustainable construction.