A forester’s dream

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-1179943423351.jpg’, ‘Photo by Sonia Vogl’, ‘Lant Huntley’s main log building (Tree Research Center).‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11799434526283.jpg’, ‘Photo by Sonia Vogl’, ‘Lant Huntley’s outdoor wood furnace.‘);

It’s understandable that a man who dedicated his life to the care of trees would want his own log cabin. Arborist Lant Huntley’s log buildings have the warm atmosphere of a lodge, but that’s where the similarity ends. Modern energy-efficient installations are everywhere.

The 36-foot by 72-foot environmentally-friendly main building will be the site of Huntley’s dream Tree Research Facility. He plans to work with natural cures rather than fungicides for tree diseases. Citing previous tree epidemics including Dutch elm disease and gypsy moth infestations which were battled with chemicals, Huntley plans to work on developing natural cures for infestations still to come. He expects to bring university consultants specializing in tree diseases to advise on approaches he can take to maintain the health of the 30 acre woodlot on his property. The larger part of the building is a maintenance and research area; the smaller is a forester’s quarters.

Walls that appear to be entire logs are insulated 2-inch by 6-inch walls covered with white pine half logs on both the interior and exterior. Special trim corners made of laminated pine create the appearance of complete logs. Wall insulation is R-19; ceiling insulation is R-38. Floors are also insulated to prevent heat loss from the hot water pipes embedded in the concrete.

Energy Star windows designed for northern climates have wood frames and are low-E argon filled. A built-in grille adds atmosphere. Doors are insulated steel with 2 inches of polyurethane. The forester’s quarters refrigerator exceeds Energy Star rating requirements by 15 percent. All lights are fluorescent or compact fluorescent.

The building also has decorative elements. A prebuilt spiral staircase leads to a second-floor storeroom. Decorative pine tree cutout doors from the 1930s, long discarded by the old Department of Conservation, will be strategically placed. Antique wood cabinets will actually be used. Multicolored beans are displayed behind glass panels in one of them. Light fixtures add to the log cabin motif.

Two outbuildings conceal the heating system. The smaller contains a Central Boiler outdoor wood furnace. The boiler heats water that flows through a pre-insulated closed loop piping system to the house. One tube in the piping carries hot water to the building; the second carries cool water back to be heated. Water in the pipes won’t freeze until the mercury hits minus 38 degrees Farenheit. Once in the building, the water heats domestic water and is also sent under the floors through plastic pipes for radiant heating.

The larger outbuilding holds what appears to be years’ supplies of firewood. Twice a day, wood is carried a convenient few feet to the furnace. Storerooms and a small office are placed at either end of the long structure.

Wood heat is considered carbon neutral if replacement trees are planted to absorb the CO2 released by burning.

A large drive provides easy access to all three buildings. A pond completes the effect of a unified whole. This is certainly a forester’s dream come true.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. They have 3.2 kW of PV and a 1 kW wind generator at their home. Forty acres of their 180-acre home farm are in ecological restorations. They are also active in preserving natural areas. They are retired professors from Northern Illinois University.

from May 23-29, 2007, issue

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