Written by Lauren Miller
Although non-natives to Wyoming, Dr. Gary and Diana Hedlund are bringing knowledge and passion into the state. While currently residing in Utah, the couple has been building a new home in Crowheart, WY, and they plan to move to the Crowheart residence upon completion of the build. While they do not come from backgrounds particularly focused in architecture or sustainability, the Hedlunds are major innovators for their building choices and their decisions and drive will surely open many avenues for homeowners in Wyoming.
From design to sourcing, nothing about this build has been traditional, and that has been exactly to plan. The Hedlunds have very deep awareness surrounding the environmental impacts of the building materials that they are choosing to use. From the use of reused materials to imported materials, they are varying greatly from the traditional Wyoming home. Wandering around the Crowheart construction site you can see repurposed sinks waiting to be installed and stacks of high-grade insulation waiting to be placed on walls. Walking with the Hedlunds, you are allowed even more of an immersive and impactful experience. Everything at the build has a firm purpose - framing techniques, insulation, and all other building materials at the site were chosen consciously. Many were chosen by means of hours of grueling research, phone calls, and inquiries. Nothing in the build is by accident.
The mentality of environmentally conscious building is nothing new for the Hedlunds. The couple currently dwell in a cabin dubbed "Doc's Fish Camp" when they visit Crowheart. The cabin is made up of Tie Hack cabins which were already present on the property and were creatively put together and restored. From the inside out, the cabin is innovative and charming. While sitting on the property you can hear the river meandering past in the background. With Dr. Hedlund being an avid fly-fisherman, the river on the property was one of the allures of the locale, which had actually been introduced to them by a neighbor in Utah.
One of the reservations that the Hedlunds had when deciding to build the house was surrounding the rurality of Crowheart. The couple has lived in metropolitan areas and wasn't sure what to expect from such a rural community. It's clear that the community has accepted the Hedlunds as wholeheartedly as they have taken to it. Neighbors saunter over to stop in and say hello, the joy between both parties evident. With significant parcels of land between each homes, such a journey is not as casual as it may be in the city, but the delight is much greater. Everyone who I have interviewed about the Crowheart project has spoken about the Hedlunds with great admiration and fondness. After meeting them, it's clear where such an inclination comes from. They break bread with their contractors and invite interns, such as myself, to their land and treat them all like family. However, the Hedlunds are clear and driven about their project being to the caliber that they deem necessary, which is what sets this project apart.
After speaking to the Hedlunds about many of the specifications of the project, I was left with a sense of awe and curiosity. Having considered myself an environmentalist, important negative impacts from construction were completely omitted from my thought process regarding new builds. Things such as the wood sourcing, species of timber used in construction and their lifecycles, outputs from producing insulation, health damaging chemicals in products, and many, many other considerations are sharply in Diana Hedlund's ethos in a way few other have the ability to consider and weigh. This acute environmental mindset mixed with an inclination for personal research has allowed the Crowheart project to have many new aspects which are innovative as well as current. As Diana Hedlund would say, there are risks and rewards to being on the bleeding edge of technology, and someone must do it. The spirit, kindness, and innovations which the Hedlunds are bringing to the state are nothing short of miraculous and are sure to help establish and encourage sustainable building technologies and practices throughout Wyoming.
Follow the blog as we go into more details about the Crowheart build in the next few posts.