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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

Reclaimed Design

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Aug 4, 2014 4:35:00 PM

WHEN THE OWNERS of this 1,015-square-foot weekend lake cabin explained their dream to builder Don Ferrier, they told him they wanted the house to look like it had been there for 100 years. What they got is a net-zero gem that is currently the greenest house in Texas, per the Green Built Texas certification program.

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Topics: net-zero energy, 1500 square feet or less, standing seam metal roof, salvaged materials

Natural Resilience

Posted by Juliet Grable

Apr 29, 2014 1:53:00 PM

MASTER CRAFTSMAN ROBERT LAPORTE and architect Paula Baker-Laporte moved the headquarters of the EcoNest Company, their design/build firm, to Ashland, Oregon in 2010. Last year they completed a new nest of their own. Featuring a timber frame, clay/straw walls and extensive use of natural and local materials, the two-bedroom home measures 1,510 square feet, and includes the EcoNest business offices.

Laporte adapted his wall system from traditional timber framing and wattle and daub.“It’s a versatile material,” he says. “The clay/straw mixture combines the insulating properties of straw-bale and the heat-storing properties of cob in one wall system.” Builders can adjust the proportions according to the solar opportunity; for instance, the south-facing wall contains more clay, increasing its capacity as a thermal mass. Larsen trusses minimize thermal bridging in the 12”-thick walls.
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Topics: 1500 square feet or less, standing seam metal roof, straw bale, Alternative Building Materials

Last Stop - Best Aging-In-Place Home - Catlett, VA

Posted by Matt Power

Dec 1, 2012 11:53:00 AM

HOMES SUCH AS this one, by Golden Rule Builders, avoid the ecological impacts of remodeling a home’s cosmetic features to accommodate aging residents, at the same offering low utility and maintenance costs for the life of the structure.

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Topics: Geothermal Heating and Cooling, 3500 to 4900 square feet, Energy Recovery Ventilation, standing seam metal roof, PEX, Low-E Window glazing, 2012 Green Home of the Year Awards, ADA compliant, Paint

Born Again - Overall Grand Winner - Clifton Park, NY

Posted by Christina B. Farnsworth

Dec 1, 2012 9:43:00 AM

WHAT DO YOU do with a sad 1830s building relic with good bones on a wonderful site in a great location? If you are this winning team, you go all out for green, LEED Platinum and NGBS Emerald.

The Peters-Lockrow farm house on the 80-acre Abraham Moe Farm had been vacant for a decade. It had holes in the roof, water in the basement and a menagerie of animals–squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons–living inside. The kitchen had even been used as a turkey coop. However, the Town of Clifton Park, N.Y., had cataloged the home (which was once owned by the original town clerk) as a historic property.

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Topics: net-zero energy, 1600 to 2500 square feet, LEED, solar, standing seam metal roof, spray foam insulation, energy efficient windows, electric vehicle, electric vehicle charging, Energy Star, water saving, 2012 Green Home of the Year Awards, renovation, Paint


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