If during a tour of northwest Oregon you happen to venture east of Portland, you’ll likely take in sights in and around the town of Hood River, which offers everything from orchards and wineries to breathtaking views to the swift and steady winds that attract expert sailboarders and kiteboarders to the Columbia River Gorge.
For a least one lucky homeowner-to-be in Hood River, spectacular views – in this case, Mt. Hood to the south and Mt. Adams to the north – will be one of the first-rate amenities of a house being built on a plateau above the town. Another amenity will be the quality of construction going into the structure, which is being built to Passivhaus standards by Portland-based designer and builder Root Design-Build.
As Root Design-Build points out on its website, the house is on a busy street and so has been separated into two buildings – a shop and garage, just off the road, which acts as a buffer for the main house, which is set back about 70 feet from the street.
Root says that the separation of the two buildings allowed the design team to focus more intently on the materials that would be used in the main building and on strategies for maximizing solar gain. The designers bisected the house’s rectangular layout with an entry foyer and staircase, then split the rectangle in the east-west direction and shifted the two pieces 10 feet, creating porch/balcony “pockets” at both ends of the building.
Hence Root’s name for the home: Shift House.
The main house, which is scheduled for completion in early 2010, is being built to include R-42 walls, an R-60 roof, triple-pane windows, well-sealed construction joints, and a heat recovery ventilator to help meet its Passivhaus requirements.
A Root co-owner, Milos Jovanovic, told Sustainable Industries magazine that SIPs will be used on the exterior walls but in a nonstructural capacity, since they will be attached to standard framing. Jovanovic’s team calculates that energy demand in the 2,200-sq.-ft. house will be so low that an 8 kW solar power system should be enough to bring its operational performance to net zero energy.
What’s more, he says, construction costs should be only about 10% higher than they would be for a conventional home of the same size, since Shift House will not require a central HVAC system.