GRAYSON COUNTY, Tex. -- Green home building is the practice of constructing a house so that it has little or no impact on its surrounding environment. The type of person who lives in one of these homes is typically an environmentally friendly one. Mark Van Paasschen introduces us to a Grayson County man who is just about as green as they get.
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be anything unusual about the home of Nancy and Gene Cushion. But, this house is far from ordinary.
"We don't know how we came across the idea. Probably through something like home and garden TV," said Gene Cushion.
That idea is to build a house made out of straw, straw bales to be exact. So, they did. The outer wall of the 3 bedroom abode is 22” thick, made up of plaster applied by hand directly to dozens of tightly packed straw bales.
"In our old home in Garland, we used to have temperature swings of as much as 10 degrees or so in the summer time from morning to night. We don't have that now. We have 2 or 3 degrees from morning to night. So you set the temperature when you go to be at 75, and if it's a cold night, it might get down to 73 when you get up in the morning," said Cushion.
And, that temperature is controlled by another green feature.
"It's nice and peaceful out here. Do you hear the hum? That's right. You don't hear the hum. That's one thing we were after: to make it as quiet and peaceful out here as we can," said Cushion.
No noisy air conditioners outside this house. Their temperature is controlled by a geothermal system. It pulls heat out of the ground in the winter, and pulls cool air up in the summer.
"There's enough energy in the ground, here in this latitude, north of Waco and south of Oklahoma City. In this band, the underground temperature is about 69 degrees consistently, when you get way down into the ground. In geothermal terms, there's quite a bit of energy in 69 degree water. So we have a closed loop system," said Cushion.
Other green features include a 6’ wide full wrap-around porch made of solid concrete. That concrete continues inside the house as well. The Cushion’s added a light stain and some cracks to give their floor a little style. Opposite the floor, Cedar slats from trees cut down near Ivanhoe make up the interior roof.
"This right here is called shiplap when the boards over lap each other like that," said Cushion.
But, the house isn’t the only thing green. Around dusk every evening, Gene puts out dinner for his neighbors. Wild raccoons walk right up on his porch to eat food he lays out for them.
"The one on the right, that's coming in through the grass right now is Latoran. I can tell by the way she walks, and she has a mark on her head," said Cushion.
And, the one he calls “Latoran,” he actually feeds by hand.
This former cop, and current Verizon employee has found a way to mesh right in with his natural surroundings. Only fitting that the house where he lives would mesh right in too.