For Lindal Cedar Homes, sustainable building begins with respect for the environment

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
For Lindal Cedar Homes, sustainable building begins with respect for the environment

Photo courtesy of Lindal Cedar Homes

At Lindal Cedar Homes, green building has been simply the way they build custom homes for the past 70 years.

Respect for the environment, energy efficiency and sustainability are part of Lindal Cedar Homes' DNA, which began in 1945 when Sir Walter Lindal founded the company.

Today, Lindal Cedar Homes is still a family-owned company and is the largest manufacturer of custom cedar homes in the world,

Lindal Cedar Homes offers an array of design options, such as the modern Turkel Design Lindal, an architect-designed home plan from the Lindal Architects Collaborative, or a Lindal Classic custom home. The homes are designed and built via local independent Lindal dealers.

Perhaps the most widely recognized feature of a Lindal Cedar Home is its relationship to the natural environment.

A Lindal dealer works with the homeowner to gather local environmental data and will explore the building site, noting the topography and things like trees critical for shading and the most natural vehicular access to the house site, all the way through to choosing eco-friendly materials to finish the home. The project begins with proper siting, site responsive house design, the use of sustainable materials, efficient delivery, and the knowledge required to apply them.

Read more about the history ofLindal Cedar Homes.

For over twenty years, Lindal Cedar Homes has planted trees to replace those harvested for their  homes. Lindal has led green home building efforts in the use of energy efficient windows and detailing, in the use of engineered wood and other sustainable materials.

In an exclusive interview with, Michael Harris, owner of Warm Modern Living, an independent Lindal Cedar Homes dealer in Seattle, and former CEO of Lindal, talked about the company's approach to green and sustainable home building. His company builds Lindal Cedar Homes for clients across the country.

Q: Do homeowners come to Lindal Cedar Homes looking for a sustainable green home?

A: It's not a subject that's a priority for most people. They want their houses to be energy efficient and they kind of assume that we're going to provide them with that. They occasionally askabout the health issues of certain products with concerns about VOCs and things like that. But the word "sustainability" is a word I rarely hear. When it comes to green building, I think people are so focused more on conserving energy than anything.

Q: Do you talk with homeowners who are interested in green building certifications?

A: I did 10 houses last year, and with all 10 of them I discussed having the house green certified, and one of them was interested in doing it.

I tell them the best thing about green certifications is that it gives you a way to know if your house was built the way it was supposed to be built, and if it performs the way it is supposed to perform.

Q: Does the Lindal reputation for high quality design and building play into their comfort level?

A: There are people who ask us if we've done any LEED homes, and yes we have, as well as other green certifications, but they don't say the want to do it for their home.

I'm not sure if they assume the house of a quality of Lindal would automatically be at that level, I'm not sure if they're just satisfied with what they read and what we tell them on our webinars and the kinds of materials we use and the kind of concerns we have. The things that have to do with all those issues around air quality and using sustainable materials, that hardly ever comes up.

Q: What draws people to the idea of a Lindal Cedar Home as a green home?

A: They want the house to live in its environment properly. They're coming to us for a house that is sunny in the winter and shady in the summer. A lot of that has to do with energy efficiency and has as much to do with how great the house feels.

We spend a tremendous amount of time designing houses that fit into the site with a minimum amount of disturbance that work well at grabbing the sun in the winter and protecting the house from the sun in the summer and that capture prevailing winds to help ventilate the house.

So I spend a lot of time with people properly siting their houses so they can be energy efficient during the summer and the winter and can ventilate naturally and work properly with topography and minimize impact on the building site itself by being properly sited.

As far as I'm concerned you cant' have a green house if you wreck the environment in which it's built.

Q: How does the Lindal systems-built approach allow you to respect the site and environment where the house will be located?

A: The Lindal houses are kit houses, so our designs are flexible enough that you can put very deep overhangs on one side of the house and no overhang on another. I do houses that have 8-foot overhangs on one side and none on the other side.

We do houses that have vertical sun screenings to keep the Western sun out and we make sure that the we capture the wind by bring in the cool air by awning windows down to the floor and then we have transom windows up high to exhaust the air. In some houses we do variable speed fans to help that along.

Those are all things that are extremely important in what we do and are some of the primary aspects of the design that we do that most other companies can't do. When you're dealing with a modular house, you have certain dimensional requirements, modular houses don't have overhangs because they have to go down the highway and the boxes become too wide.

Q: It seems like green or sustainable aspects are really part of the Lindal Cedar Homes DNA

A: In my monthly webinars for clients we talk about the three aspects of modernism: flexibility, efficiency, and the No. 1 aspect, environmental responsiveness. People feel like they're making a contribution to green living by virtue of the pains that we take to make a house work within its environment.

Q: So clients don't necessarily look for high performance features in the home?

A: We offer the client the ability to fine tune or create a design from scratch that really works with nature and we super insulate some houses, we use close cell insulation to maximize the R-values in the roof and the walls, and we use very high performance windows, things like that. That's all part of what we do. People don't come to us and say they want a green house.

Maybe the reason they don't ask is that we talk enough about what we do that they understand that it's important to us.

I think that part of it is that consumers in general equate energy efficiency with green. And we do so much to properly design and site the house to work well with the environment they're getting their dose of green as a standard part of what we do.

They seem to have enough confidence in us that they don't seem to feel the need for any certification to prove it.

Read more about systems built homes.

Topics: Building Green, Going Green, GREAT GREEN HOMES, Healthy Homes, Home Design & Plans, Lumber and Structured Panels, Prefabricated Homes / Systems Built Homes / Modular Homes

Companies: Lindal Cedar Homes

Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

wwwView Gary Wollenhaupt's profile on LinkedIn

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