Building Green

Royalston Oak is an Energy Star New Homes Partner 

In 2011 we framed a house that was awarded the highest Energy Star rating of 5 STARS PLUS, with a HERS rating of 0.5. We are committed to helping our clients build affordable energy efficient homes.  The Energy Star qualified homes built in 2011 are the equivalent of planting 104,834 acres of trees or eliminating over 752 million pounds of CO2 from the environment.

Royalston Oak is committed to sustainable and renewable construction

For over 35 years Royalston Oak has been practicing sustainable and renewable building practices.  Whenever possible we purchase our timber from local sawmills. The sawmills harvest logs from woodlots that are privately owned and managed by professional foresters.  Most of these logscomes from Massachusetts woodlots.  The state of Massachusetts prohibits the practice of clear cutting and high grading (only harvesting the best trees) and encourages the sustainable use of the forest for timber harvesting, wildlife management and recreation.

Our shop has a passive solar design that requires little or no heating.  When it is necessary to heat our shop we use a wood stove that burns the cut offs from our frame production.  In 2010 we installed a 5Kw photovoltaic system that has supplied all the electricity for our shop.  We have not used electricity from the Grid since March of 2011.

Wood is a natural, organic, non-toxic material; it is recyclable, biodegradable, waste efficient and renewable

Because wood is completely natural, renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and waste efficient, its use has very little impact on the environment. Wood does not emit toxins, so it promotes a healthy homeenvironment. Wood meets the criteria for building materials that the sustainable movement has embraced via the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, the newly launched National Association of Home Builders’s (NAHB) National Green Building Program (NGBP) rating system, and the Green Globes system.

Wood is a carbon-neutral material

The average tree absorbs approximately one metric ton of CO2 (carbon dioxide) for each cubic meter of growth and exhales 0.7 metric tons of O2 (oxygen). The carbon is sequestered/stored in the tree for the life of the tree and the life of the building it goes into. The carbon that is ‘sunk’ in the timber equates to about 1.6 pounds of carbon for each board foot of wood. When the timber frame reaches its useful life – which could be several hundred years- the wood can be recycled into new products, refashioned into new building material or burned as a substitute for fossil fuels.

There are many sources of sustainable timber

Wood can be sourced from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified sources, as well as SFI (Sustainable Forest Initiative), American Tree Farm, Canada’s National Standard on Sustainable Forest Management Standard (CAN/CSA Z809) and the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Systems (PEFC); all of which are included in the NGBP rating system.

Obtaining certification means that rigorous standards are being followed in the forest; that no clear cutting has occurred, that forests are harvested and replanted and that the forests exhibit healthy environments for wildlife and plant life. Young trees rapidly metabolize CO2. Selectively harvesting older trees and replanting with young trees makes for a healthy, vigorous forest.

Other environmentally friendly sources of timber include reclaimed and forest salvaged/standing dead material. Reclaimed timber is derived from a variety of sources including: the dismantling of old, unused barns and other farm structures, the dismantling of unused factories and large commercial buildings mostly mills and war time factories, and from submerged logs and structures.

Green Building with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

The construction and operation of buildings has a significant impact on the environment. Buildings account for 39% of total U.S. energy consumption and 38% of carbon dioxide emissions. By using less energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, green building plays an important role in combating global climate change. Buildings also use a tremendous amount of natural resources to construct and operate. Constructing green buildings that use these resources more efficiently, while minimizing pollution that can harm renewable natural resources, is crucial to a sustainable future.

Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are one of the most airtight and well insulated building systems available, making them an inherently green product. An airtight SIP building will use less energy to heat and cool, allow for better control over indoor environmental conditions, and reduce construction waste.

SIPs Save Energy

Building with SIPs creates a superior building envelope with high thermal resistance and minimal air infiltration.

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory(ORNL) Whole-wall R-value studies show that a 4-inch SIP wall (nominal) rated at R-14 outperforms a 2×6 stick framed wall with R-19 fiberglass insulation.
  • ORNL blower door tests reveal that a SIP test room is 15 times more airtight than its stick framed counterpart with fiberglass insulation.
  • Up to 40% of a home’s heat loss is due to air leakage.
  • SIPs have demonstrated amazingly low blower door test results when properly sealed. Based on the reliable performance of SIPs, ENERGY STAR chose to eliminate the required blower door test for SIP homes to meet ENERGY STAR standards.


SIPs Save Resources

The major components of SIPs, foam and oriented strand board (OSB), take less energy and raw materials to produce than other structural building systems. SIPs are also fabricated in a controlled environment, allowing for greater efficiency than site-built framing. The NAHB estimates that the construction of a 2000 sq. ft. home produces 7,000 lbs. of waste. SIPs have the ability to drastically reduce the waste generated during construction by using advanced optimization software and automated fabrication technology to ensure the most efficient use of material.

  • OSB is manufactured from fast growing, underutilized, and often less expensive wood species grown in carefully managed forests. The OSB production process uses small wood chips and highly automated machinery, making OSB a very efficient use of raw materials.
    • About 85-90 percent of a log can be used to make high quality structural panels, and the remainder – bark, saw trim, and sawdust – can be converted into energy, pulp chips or bark dust.
  • EPS is a lightweight insulation composed mostly of air. Only 2% of EPS is plastic. Over the lifetime of a house, the EPS insulation usedin SIPs will save many times the energy embodied in the petroleum used to make EPS (see Life Cycle Analysis for more info).
    • It takes 24% less energy to produce EPS than fiberglass insulation of equivalent R-value.
    • Scrap EPS generated during the manufacturing process can be recycled into new EPS products.


Green Building Links

Introduction to Green Building

EPA Why Build Green

Green Building Basics

Green Building News

Green Building Blog

Build Green New Hampshire

National Green Building Program

The Practical Building Rating System

Green Building with SIPs

SIPs Provide Green Building Benefits

Forest Stewardship Council

Sustainable Forestry Initiative

American Tree Farm System

Forest Products Association of Canada

Tom Musco, the founder and principle timber framer of Royalston Oak, began his professional woodworking career as a musical instrument apprentice to Peter S Kyvelos in Belmont, Massachusetts in 1973. Tom spent several years making and repairing a variety of Middle Eastern and Western stringed musical instruments. One of his dulcimers was featured in the first Fine Woodworking Design Book in 1976. Tom and his wife Judy moved to Royalston, Massachusetts in 1977 and began building timber frames, an interest he discovered in a beautiful timber-frame barn on his in-laws farm in Petersham, Massachusetts. His first frame was for his shop and his second frame was for his house. He made furniture and timber frames until 1980 when his shop was struck by lightening and burned to the ground along with all his tools and machinery. He built a new timber framed shop with the help of his neighbors and began timber framing full time. Tom was a founding member of the Timber Framers Guild. He has done workshops in NE ( Pembroke workshop at TFG ) and England. In 1989 Tom and his crew participated in the famous Concord Barn Raising episode of This Old House. He has built timber frames in New York State, the Hamptons, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alaska, and all the New England states except Rhode Island. Tom has crafted almost 200 timber frames since 1977. Tom is also an excellent cook with an interest in food of Sicily, where 3 of his 4 grandparents were born. He has written a series of articles on Sicilian food which you can read at the website of the Umass Journalism in Sicily Program.