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Helios NW Eco: A Net Zero Vacation Home

Posted by Suchi Rudra

Sep 12, 2014 6:16:00 PM

WHEN SARAH AND HER HUSBAND (surnames withheld) purchased what is now the Helios Eco-House in Bend, Oregon, the primary goal was to achieve LEED standards. But after doing much research, the biotech and engineer couple discovered that “if you’re willing to go a little further, it’s really painless to go net zero.”

When the couple purchased the 2,145-square-foot house in 2010, construction hadn’t been completed due to the drop in the housing market in 2006. Sarah considered this a unique opportunity.
“It’s one thing to read about green building, and another to immerse yourself in it,” she says. By March 2011, the couple completed construction on the three-bedroom, three-bath house to achieve LEED Gold for Homes (the first in Oregon), and the property began to operate as a short-term vacation rental. The rental income was immediately reinvested into the house, including the installation of the PV array, and by June 2011, Helios Eco-House had achieved net-zero energy.

“It’s the only net-zero property in the area that I know of,” Sarah says.

Powering the home is a 2.59-kW grid-tied photovoltaic solar panel array on the roof. Each solar panel has its own microinverter, which leaves the whole array unaffected if one panel breaks down. “Little decisions like that helped maximize what we’re doing,” Sarah adds.

Typically, the house is able to send back excess energy into the grid on a monthly basis, except for a small dip in January and February, depending on the snowload. But Bend is located in what’s known as a “high desert” climate and enjoys a prime solar environment, with over 300 days of sun a year. A display in the garage and online allows visitors to monitor the performance level of the PV array.
Guests can leave a minimal carbon footprint by walking to local restaurants, cafés and markets and cycling or taking a shuttle bus to nearby attractions. The house also maintains a “mid-century modern” aesthetic, complete with vintage furniture, which allows guests to try out an eco-friendly lifestyle without sacrificing ease or comfort.

“People can stay very comfortably and not have a lot of waste as a result of their stay,” says Sarah. “And other guests come because they are specifically interested in the concept of this house.”

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Topics: net-zero energy, 1600 to 2500 square feet, Green Landscaping, LEED, solar, standing seam metal roof, water conservation, zero-VOC, radiant heating systems, Low-E Window glazing

Island Jewel

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jun 27, 2014 9:42:52 AM

Ellis used the short eaves space upstairs to store a single Geyser heat pump water heater. He needed to provide enough capacity for four bathrooms and an outdoor shower. So the two hot water tanks act as storage and are plumbed in line with the Geyser heat pump providing heat for the system. The heat pump runs on standard 110 volt power. As the systems use ambient hot air to heat water, they blow out colder air, cooling the “outdoor” hallway. Also in this space is the 4.5 ton 16 SEER Trane high-efficiency heat pump that conditions living areas.

PROBABLY THE GREENEST way builder Steve Ellis could have used his island property would have been to continue enjoying it as a festive site for bonfires and camping.

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Topics: 1600 to 2500 square feet, natural daylighting, housewrap, spray foam insulation, salvaged materials, Recycled Products

An Historic Home Goes Green

Posted by Christina B. Farnsworth

May 13, 2014 11:23:00 AM

JOSEPH BENNETT, an architect based in Austin, Texas, completely remodeled his own 1917 bungalow, transforming it into a 2,500-square-foot, two-story home. The remodel earned Silver LEED and Austin Energy Green Building 5 Star certifications; the bungalow’s HERS rating is 55.

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Topics: 1600 to 2500 square feet, LEED, HERS, spray foam insulation, Residential Retrofit, Texas, Recycled Products

Old Cape New Life

Posted by Tux Turkel

Apr 18, 2014 9:57:00 AM

The house wasn’t much to look at—a modest Cape Cod–style home in what was once a working-class street in Portland, Maine. But Tom Landry saw potential and opportunity.  

Owner of CornerStone Building & Restoration/Homes, Landry had passed the property many times as it sat on the market, priced at a bargain $155,000. This house, he knew, was located in one of the city’s up-and-coming neighborhoods, within walking distance of fine restaurants, a performing arts theater, and a waterfront park.

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Topics: 1600 to 2500 square feet, Residential Retrofit, Maine

Subtle Masterpiece

Posted by Cati O'Keefe

Dec 1, 2013 5:18:00 PM

2013 Green Home of the Year Awards 
Grand Overall Winner - Santa Ynez, Calif.

This home's smart, low-tech approach to efficiency took home the gold.

SIMPLICITY WON OVER the judges to make Dreamtime Farm, Santa Ynez, Calif., this year’s Grand Overall  Green Home of the Year Award Winner. Architect and judge Hank Krzysik called the home “simple, clean, energy-efficient.” Builder and judge Michael Ginsburg said the home was “simple, straightforward and understandable.” Judge and energy expert Robert Bulechek lauded its features: “net-zero, graywater with solar hydronic.”

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Topics: net-zero energy, California, bathroom, 1600 to 2500 square feet, Green Landscaping, kitchen, passive solar, solar hot water, straw bale, outdoor living, Chain of Custody Certification, EPA Burn Wise, natural ventilation, natural daylighting, AquaPEX, FSC Certified Lumber, LED Lighting, 2013 Green Home of the Year Awards, Recycled Products


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