About Craig Marlowe

Craig joined us in January '08, after a spell of freelance work. A man of many talents, he's at his best when immersed in the world of colors, shapes & typography, pulling together the elements of design to make our stuff look groovy. If you have any comments about this site, let him know. Outside of work, he's settling into his old RIT stomping grounds following his return from New Jersey. His roots in the upstate NY soil are about to get a little deeper, as he and wife Kathryn have just had their first child, a baby boy!

From Dream To Design – Part 1 in the Welcome Home Series

Timber Home Living Magazine is documenting each step in the design/build process for the Olsen family’s reclaimed Douglas fir timber frame home in Austerlitz, NY. Online and print articles will cover the home’s journey from architectural planning, to the frame raising, to enclosure, to completion.

Part 1, below, can be found in the October issue on sale now.
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What is Passive House?

Brad, of our construction group, recently became certified in Passive House Basics with a specialization in “Building Envelope,” making him a Certified Passive House Tradesperson. His expertise in air sealing and the building envelope is a practice that New Energy Works is implementing to continue building well-insulated and comfortable homes.

This is Brad!

This is Brad!

A Passive House is a super-insulated home that balances a comprehensive set of factors from design through construction (including heat emissions from the people and the appliances used, to the solar gains from window locations in the home) to reduce the amount of energy lost and provide a superior indoor air quality. We are continuously picking Brad’s brain on the latest design and construction techniques used to build high performance homes.

When building a Passive House, there is much to consider starting in the design phase and throughout the entire process. Location of the property along with the home’s orientation and outdoor shading are just the first steps to maximize solar gains and reduce energy consumption. Passive House building principals use innovative materials in all aspects of the process including intelligent air barriers, insulation, windows, doors and mechanical ventilation system. Special care even comes down to choosing the correct appliances, hot water distribution and energy efficient lighting.

Intello barrier being installed.

Intello barrier being installed by our design group

In the construction phase, the Blower Door Test is a mandatory process in the Passive House practice, and has become a technique that we use frequently. This test allows us to pinpoint where there may be drafts and ensures a virtually air tight envelope while allowing water vapor to dry out and maintain an overall healthy environment.

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Blower Door test in action

How’s it work? Think of a nice big parade float in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. We wouldn’t want to see any saggy inflatables with air leaking out, so it makes sense to have a similar mind when insulating your biggest investment, your home. The Blower Door Test is used to aid in air sealing prior to insulation, post insulation, and a third time after finishes are complete. Put simply, a reversed fan pulls the air from inside the house outwards and gives an assessment of where there may be cracks and leaks in the envelope. This ensures complete air sealing prior to any drywall being installed and the opportunity to fix any issues.

The blower door test performed in June on one of our timber frame homes, which is nearing completion, achieved a 1.5 ACH50.

The blower door test performed in June on one of our timber frame homes, which is nearing completion, achieved a 1.5 ACH50.

How well-insulated is a Passive House home? The New York state code requires less than 7 ACH50 (air changes per hour at 50 pascals). Energy Star, a well-known program helping businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency, requires less than 3.5 ACH50. Passive House has even higher standards, and requires less than 0.6 ACH50, making a Passive House 5 times tighter than an Energy Star home.

We look forward to learning more about Passive House and the evolving building techniques for high-performance, energy efficient homes.

A Spring Full of Reclaimed Timbers

Reclaimed timbers bring additional texture, aesthetic, and a unique history to every project. This Summer, we’ll be raising residential and commercial timber frames crafted of reclaimed timbers across Upstate NY.

“Reclaimed wood is a top choice for timber frame projects as it is inherently more stable than fresh cut wood. In addition, the history and character in reclaimed timbers is unmatched – clients particularly enjoy the story of their frame,” explains Eric Fraser, Timber Frame Manager.

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The antique timbers used in our projects are salvaged by our sister company, Pioneer Millworks, from industrial and agricultural structures that have outlived their use and are slated for deconstruction.

Reclaimed timbers are part of our culture and history, our team understands antique wood and how to use it to the best of its potential, from our design group, to our engineers, to our joiners and timberwrights. For nearly 30 years, we’ve been crafting frames with timbers salvaged by our sister company, Pioneer Millworks, from outdated agricultural and industrial buildings.

Antique timbers can be difficult to source, like finding a gem in the rough, and challenging to work with due to existing mortise pockets and old artifacts like nails or bolts. Though challenging, the signs of previous life add to the visual appeal, character not found in fresh sawn timbers. Hand-hewn surfaces of old agricultural timbers are often left intact, even using original mortise and tenon joinery where the design allows.

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An added benefit of reclaimed timbers is their stability. Any checking or twisting of the old timbers happened decades ago as they spent those years experiencing fluctuating temperatures and exposure to air and moisture changes while drying to a consistent, low moisture level.

The Olsen family’s reclaimed Douglas fir timber frame home will be raised this Summer. Timber Home Living Magazine will cover the story of this home from ground breaking to completion.

The Olsen family’s reclaimed Douglas fir timber frame home will be raised this Summer. Timber Home Living Magazine will cover the story of this home from ground breaking to completion.

Timber Home Living Magazine will be documenting each step in the design/build process for the Olsen family’s reclaimed Douglas fir timber frame home in Austerlitz, NY. Online and print articles will cover the project starting with architectural planning, to the frame raising, to enclosure, to completion. The Douglas fir timbers for this project were reclaimed from dilapidated industrial buildings including Myrtle Creek and Union Underwear as well as a military facility in Pine Valley, NY. We anticipate raising the frame for this project in July 2014.

We will be re-raising the reclaimed timbers at the FLM’s Discovery Campus this summer.

We will be re-raising the reclaimed timbers at the FLM’s Discovery Campus this summer.

Residential homes aren’t the only projects that are using reclaimed timbers. Commercial clients are also telling a story through their structures by incorporating reclaimed wood. Lyons National Bank is opening a new branch in Canandaigua, NY which will feature reclaimed Douglas fir salvaged from a manufacturing building in Albion, NY.

The Finger Lakes Museum at the Discovery Campus in Branchport, NY will use a mixture of timbers reclaimed from a Wisconsin barn to form a new museum building. We will re-raise the frame this month.

Steamboat Landing's Cove Restaurant was designed as a time frame which we crafted from reclaimed Douglas fir timbers that were originally part of the circa 1900s Welland Canal. The Landing is being repurposed and the timbers will find new life as a winery for Point of the Bluff Vineyards.

Steamboat Landing’s Cove Restaurant was designed as a time frame which we crafted from reclaimed Douglas fir timbers that were originally part of the circa 1900s Welland Canal. The Landing is being repurposed and the timber will find new life as a winery for Point of the Bluff Vineyards.

Point of the Bluff Vineyard in Hammondsport, NY is re-using a storied timber frame we deconstructed/reclaimed from Steamboat Landing in Canandaigua, NY. The re-purposed frame will be raised in late July.

Many of the timber frame raisings will be open to the public. Please let us know if you’d like to attend.