New Residence in Edina, Minnesota

Oram was asked to consult on the design and construction of a new home for clients who are chemically-sensitive and health-conscious.





The Durisol wall form was selected for the walls and foundation of this two-story home. The Durisol Corporation is located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (905-521-0999).

To the right you will see the Durisol wall form in place before the stone facade was installed over it. Any siding material can be used with Durisol forms.




The same view is shown to the left with the stone facade in place.







The architect for the project is Jack Snow of RKD Architects in Edwards, Colorado (970-926-2622). At the request of the homeowners, Jack used a design inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The builder is Choice Wood of Saint Louis Park, Minnesota (952-924-0043).




Many water intrusion experts say that water in either vapor or liquid form will enter into walls at some point in the life of a home, leading to the potential development of mold. Building inspectors find "two inches of standing water" in modern wood frame walls, yet they don't know what to do about it. Making the wall tighter only prevents the inevitable moisture that condenses or enters the wall from drying out before mold develops.



Durisol, on the other hand, has the proven ability to dry out within the 24-48 hours before mold grows to the dangerous spore stage. It allows slow water vapor diffusion right through the wall without heat-robbing air infiltration. A sand and cement parging coat on the outside acts as an air barrier, but the wall is vapor permeable, disallowing mold. The building biology motto is not "build tight, ventilate right." Rather, we say, make your wall system "waterproof but vapor permeable."



Durisol wall forms do not outgas, making them ideal for multiple chemically sensitive (MCS) individuals.







Durisol is also known to provide superior thermal performance in both the heating and cooling seasons, meaning less need for fossil fuels in winter and a reduced cooling load in summer. Durisol accomplishes this because the wall form avoids thermal bridging, as happens through wood studs in a wood frame house.

Once the shell was up and the windows were in place, the workmen noted that the building retained heat quite well during construction in the autumn months without the need for space heaters until December.


The electrical contractor is Milow Electric of Long Lake, Minnesota. Contact Dan Milow at 952-475-2270. Dan oversaw the implementation of a healthy wiring protocol provided by Oram Miller of Environmental Design and Inspection Services, now in California, and Spark Burmaster of Environmental Options in Chaseburg, Wisconsin. The electrical wiring guidelines were originally developed by Spark based upon the teachings of the International Institute for Bau-BiologieTM and Ecology.


These wiring guidelines incororate many techniques to reduce occupant exposure to harmful electric, magnetic and radio frequency fields. All wiring is installed in rigid conduit or flexible metal cable to reduce electric field exposure.





Shut-off switches are provided in bedrooms so that occupants can turn off power at night when they sleep that runs through unshielded plastic-jacketed AC power cords to lamps and other appliances plugged in in the room. These power cords, if left on, would emit agitating electric fields that rob you of a good night's sleep, even when the lamp is turned off. See Tips for a Healthy Home and click on the link for the handout on EMFs.



Magnetic field exposure is reduced in this house by the use of cross-linked plastic (PEX) potable water pipe throughout the house.

Unwanted electric current on the incoming water service supply pipe, which causes harmful magnetic field exposure for occupants, is eliminated because polyethylene pipe, rather than copper, is used for the water service supply pipe under the front yard, as is now allowed by many local plumbing codes.



The house was also checked for wiring errors, another source of magnetic field exposure. Even though this was a new installation, two wiring errors were discovered and repaired.






Radio frequencies are eliminated by the avoidance of cordless telephones and wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) routers within the home. A hardwired CAT-5e Ethernet hardwired Local Area Network (LAN) was provided in the walls to every room where a computer would be used, thereby eliminating the need for any Wi-Fi.





In addition, the thick Durisol walls actually block incoming radio frequencies from any nearby cell towers, shielding the occupants from that potentially harmful health effect.






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