Modern log cabin with rocking chairs on porch.

To save energy, money, the environment, or all of the above, more and more homeowners are going green. If you want a sustainable home that will help save the planet, a log cabin may be the best option for you.

Compared to traditional stick and brick houses, log cabins usually have more environmentally-friendly perks. Here are a few ways log cabins can help make the planet greener.

More Sunlight

Log cabins are usually not overshadowed by surrounding buildings. Since they are typically situated in sunlight, log cabins are a perfect fit for harvesting solar energy.

Thanks to government programs, solar panels have become more accessible. Moreover, off-grid solar power systems are highly adaptable to solar cabins.

Log cabins are designed to allow more natural sunlight to get inside. This reduces the need for artificial lighting.

Eco-Friendly Materials

Wood is a natural, renewable and sustainable material. Other materials used to build log cabins are free of plastic, formaldehyde, additives, and chemicals. A lot of log cabins are built from dead timber instead of live trees.

And, a lot of log cabin builders use reclaimed or recycled wood in order to improve practices of green building. The use of reclaimed materials helps reduce waste.

Good builders never let any wood go to waste. Builders often use scrap wood for furniture. Log cabin builders are typically big supporters of reforestation programs.

Of course, a lot of builders still harvest wood, but harvesting wood takes much less energy than manufacturing materials used to build standard homes. The carbon footprint of log cabins is very low as they don’t use steel or concrete.

Cement, the key ingredient in concrete, is the source of approximately 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions. By using wood as a construction material, we can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Most people, however, have doubts about the longevity of log cabins. Concrete and steel are much more durable materials than wood, but a log cabin that is properly looked after will last a lifetime.

Energy Efficiency

According to energy.gov, logs can provide both insulation and structure in a solid log wall. Under the right circumstances, timber absorbs heat throughout the day and releases it at night. Since the need for heating is very low compared to concrete buildings, energy consumption is significantly lower.

All of this only goes if the cabin is well-built. Log cabins can develop air leaks if they are not properly constructed or assembled. The problem usually occurs due to shrinkage. This is why experienced builders use seasoned logs. According to energy.gov, the best woods to use to avoid energy loss problems are:

  • Cedar
  • Spruce
  • Pine
  • Fir
  • Larch

Environmentally-conscious log cabin owners often use sheep wool between logs to improve the insulation of their cabin. It’s an eco-friendly alternative to foam or fiberglass insulation. Unlike other materials used for insulation, wool doesn’t require much processing.

Water Harvesting

Many log cabins use systems for collecting rainwater. Such a system can be installed on the rooftop of a cabin. Rainwater is soft, so it is gentler on plumbing and requires less soap. Rainwater collection can be of great value in areas plagued with drought.

When you use rainwater, you don’t have to worry about it being contaminated with chlorine, pesticides, feces, and industrial chemicals. Using a rainwater collection system helps reduce the amount of energy needed to supply, store, and treat water.

Rainwater harvesting systems that can be used on log cabin roofs are quite affordable. Entry-level kits cost less than $100. One can even use a recycled whiskey barrel as a storage tank.

Homeowners

Homeowners are often one of the main reasons why log cabins are so sustainable and environmentally friendly. Log cabins are popular among eco-conscious nature lovers who are committed to reducing their carbon footprint.

If you are considering living in a log cabin, there are a few other things you can do to make it even more environmentally-friendly and sustainable:

  • Be aware of setbacks from wetlands, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. Don’t build a log cabin within at least 50 feet of a waterbody and 100 feet of wetlands. This will lessen the chances of manmade pollution entering the water.

  • Minimize brushing, landscaping, and other activities that may affect the natural surroundings around your cabin. This will help preserve the native flora and fauna.

  • Build on logged over property or on a brownfield. You won’t impact other areas if you use land that has already been disturbed.

  • Consider permeable pavers or a gravel/reinforced grass mix for your driveway. This is to ensure rain will flow naturally around the area.

  • Install low flow faucets, toilets, and showerheads.

  • Consider an open floor plan. It will allow for the flow of warmth throughout the cabin.

Conclusion

Log cabins have always been green. However, their “eco-friendliness” largely depends on the builders and residents. Luckily, most log cabin builders and owners are doing their part for a greener planet. Thanks to them, log cabins are one of the most environmentally-friendly homes.


By Kevin Jefferson

Kevin has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both thoroughly enjoyed, and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house (the other half has been waiting for spring). You can read more of Kevin’s work on PlainHelp.

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