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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

Near Future Vision

Posted by Green Builder Staff

May 31, 2014 1:02:15 PM

The 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle celebrated all things Space Age, including the American Home of the Immediate Future, a prefab modular house. Fifty years later, the Miller Hull Partnership’s Ron Rochon decided to revisit the idea.
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Topics: net-zero energy, 1500 square feet or less, radiant heating systems, Recycled Products

Natural Fit

Posted by Green Builder Staff

May 14, 2014 10:07:00 AM

ALTHOUGH YOU CAN'T tell from the finished product, this 3,012 sq. ft. home in Livermore, Colorado, has a skin of SIPs, and a HERS rating of 24.

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Topics: SIPs, Native plants, 2600 to 3400 square feet, Low Flow Faucets, spray foam insulation, radiant heating systems, FSC Certified Lumber, Colorado

Four-Part Harmony

Posted by Juliet Grable

Oct 2, 2013 12:49:00 PM

THE GUEST HOUSE at Buoy Bay was the prototype that launched the Cottage Series, one of eight pre-design series offered by Method Homes. It’s located at the south end of Orcas Island, one of the San Juan archipelago o­ff the Washington State coast. Architect Christopher Rost hopes his collaboration with Method Homes will open up opportunities in residential prefab.

“There are two factors limiting [the market] today,” he says. “The stigma of the mobile home and the emphasis on modern in high-end prefab.”

Rost has been practicing for over twenty years. He is Studio 29, along with his wife, Carol Rost, who serves as office and project manager and consultant. The couple moved to Orcas Island in 2006. Working in the beautiful but fragile environment prompted Rost to seek construction methods that minimized environmental impact; he also wanted to design structures that were flexible, expandable, and moveable. After briefly considering shipping containers, he concluded pre-fab was the way to go, especially for island construction, which is often characterized by hard-to access sites on steep slopes. In a bit of serendipity, Rost was approached by a client who was interested in both traditional cottage design and modular construction. He chose Washington-based Method Homes as a partner for the company’s experience in high-end prefab.
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Topics: Bamboo, 1500 square feet or less, solar, Windows, Energy Star, radiant heating systems, composite siding, prefabricated homes, Washington

Home Watch: Seattle Modern

Posted by Green Builder Staff

May 28, 2010 4:11:00 PM

FROM DWELL DEVELOPMENT DESIGN+BUILD comes another in a growing list of modern, green building projects. Based in Seattle and focusing primarily on urban infill developments, Dwell has established a strong reputation for careful blending of design, health, efficiency, and environmental considerations.

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Topics: 1600 to 2500 square feet, SIPs, radiant heating systems, Washington, Recycled Products, concrete


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