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Mechanical and Electrical Systems at the Orchards at Orenco Project

A model for energy-efficient affordable housing in the Pacific Northwest

Posted on Aug 17 2016 by Mike Steffen

This is Part 6 of a blog series describing construction of the Orchards at Orenco project in Oregon. The first installment was titled The Largest Passivhaus Building in the U.S.

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Image Credits:

  1. Images #1, #4, #5, #6, #7, #9 and #10: Walsh Construction Company
  2. Images #2 and #3: Ankrom Moisan Architects
  3. Images #8 and #11: Casey Braunger
  4. Image #12: REACH Community Development

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Oregon’s Groundbreaking Clean Energy Bill

The plan will have national implications and adds to the growing momentum to address climate change

Posted on Apr 5 2016 by Noah Long

The historic clean energy law that passed Oregon's Legislature with bipartisan support this month will have regional, national, and international implications.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown's ceremonial signing of the state's pioneering Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act at an elementary school that recently installed solar panels was both symbolic and appropriate. The new clean energy law helps address the greatest environmental threat of our time and protect future generations from the worst effects of climate change.

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Image Credits:

  1. RenewOR

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Meeting the Airtightness Challenge

At the Orchards at Orenco project in Oregon, builders prepare for a high-stakes blower-door test

Posted on Aug 20 2015 by Mike Steffen

This is Part 5 of a blog series describing construction of the Orchards at Orenco project in Oregon. The first installment was titled The Largest Passivhaus Building in the U.S.

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Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: Walsh Construction Company
  2. Image #2: Ankrom Moisan Architects
  3. Images #3 through #7: Walsh Construction Company

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Roofing and Cladding for the Orenco Passivhaus

Before the brick veneer, fiber-cement lap siding, and membrane roofing were installed, workers made sure that the building’s air barrier was bulletproof

Posted on Jul 30 2015 by Mike Steffen

This is Part 4 of a blog series describing construction of the Orchards at Orenco project in Oregon. The first installment was titled The Largest Passivhaus Building in the U.S.

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Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: Casey Braunger
  2. Images #2 through #16: Walsh Construction Company
  3. Image #17: Bygghouse
  4. Images #18 through #27: Walsh Construction Company

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Trekhaus: A Passivhaus Duplex in Oregon

A design/build team applies its know-how to this well-insulated, airtight duplex on an infill lot in Portland

Posted on Jan 17 2012 by Richard Defendorf

Updated to reflect the installation plans for the photovoltaic systems.

Work is very nearly completed on TrekHaus, a duplex built to the Passivhaus standard in southeast Portland, Oregon. At some point this spring, if all goes according to schedule, the west unit will be equipped with a 4.14 kW roof-mounted photovoltaic system and monitored for performance for a while before a similar system is added to the east unit. Once the renewable-energy systems are in place, the building is expected to operate at net zero energy with three people in each unit.

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Image Credits:

  1. Ella Wong (images 1 and 4), Robert Hawthorne (images 2, 3, 5 and 6)

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Turning Objections to a Green Project Into an Opportunity

Neighbors have stalled a 35-unit subdivision of energy-efficient dwellings, but the delay gives a Habitat chapter time to refine its green building techniques

Posted on Jan 12 2012 by Richard Defendorf

The McMinnville Area Habitat for Humanity, in Oregon, had guided its proposed 35-unit affordable-housing development through a design process that strongly emphasizes energy conservation and makes efficient use of the subdivision’s 3.47 acres. The energy efficiency, affordability, and layout of the community have won praise from most people who have studied the project.

Including those who oppose it.

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Image Credits:

  1. M.O. Daby Design

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Karuna House: One Project, Three Certifications

This Oregon house is aiming for Passivhaus, LEED for Homes Platinum, and Minergie-P-ECO certifications – and plans to test the three standards’ compatibility

Posted on Nov 9 2011 by Richard Defendorf

Are the developers of a project called Karuna House — Oregon-based builder Hammer & Hand, Holst Architecture, and their collaborators — inviting skirmishes between certification programs? Maybe a little bit.

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Image Credits:

  1. Holst Architecture (images 1 and 2); Aaron Bergeson, Shelley Martin, and Scott Gunter (images 3, 4, and 5)

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Oregon’s Reach Code Adopts the Passivhaus Standard

The state’s Reach Code Advisory Committee rules that the superinsulation standard is an acceptable option for commercial projects, setting a precedent for energy efficiency codes in the U.S.

Posted on Mar 30 2011 by Richard Defendorf

UPDATED on March 30 to clarify the distinction between the Let Oregon Lead Committee and the Reach Code Committee, which is the actual governmental body responsible for Reach Code development.

In July 2009, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed into law Senate Bill 79, which was designed to improve the energy efficiency of buildings planned for construction by authorizing updates to Oregon’s building codes.

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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Trust of Oregon

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Giving Green Certification a Home in Real Estate Listings

Colorado’s plan to add certified energy efficiency features to listings aims to ensure proper valuations; meanwhile, data show certified homes are commanding a premium in and around Portland, Oregon

Posted on Sep 20 2010 by Richard Defendorf

The battle to capture the fair value of green features in homes took a turn in favor of home sellers and builders this month in Colorado, where a state government task force led an initiative to factor certified energy efficiency and renewable-energy features into real estate listings.

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Image Credits:

  1. Earth Advantage Institute, based on regional multiple listing service data

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Traditional Styling, Passive House Construction

One of the first new homes on the West Coast of the U.S. to earn Passivhaus certification blends seamlessly with much older homes in the neighborhood

Posted on Aug 11 2010 by Richard Defendorf

Short of training as a Passivhaus consultant, one way to immerse yourself in Passivhaus technology and practice is to have a home built to the standard and then live in it. That’s what Sarah Evans and her husband, Stuart Rue, have done with their two-story project in Salem, Oregon, which broke ground in August 2009 and earned certification by Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. Institute U.S. last month.

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Image Credits:

  1. Sarah Evans and Stuart Rue

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