Iris Communications, Inc.
In addition to housing Iris, this building is a private residence.
Comfort, health, economy and environmental protection are the rewards of living in a green home. We have high expectations. The temperature is even throughout the home and consistent from day to night and season to season. Sunlight streams through south-facing windows bringing natural light, warming energy and good spirits. The air inside is fresh and clean, without dust, pollen or other nasty airborne particles riding on the wind outside. There isn't a “new house smell” that comes from noxious carpets and solvent-based finishes.
The benefits go far beyond the walls of the home. Energy use in American buildings degrades the environment around the world. Resource extraction, processing, transportation and disposal all scar the land and poison the air and water. Small house size means less energy and materials were needed for initial construction and daily operation. Energy conservation measures, solar energy and highly-efficient mechanical systems make each unit of energy go further. Durable materials and expert craftsmanship make the investment last longer. Many building materials contain recycled content to reduce the amount of new resources needed and achieving a higher use for resources that were once considered waste.
Some features, such as the small size and passive solar design, have no cost at all. They simply save money. Hard surface floors improve health and reduce maintenance costs. Plus, there will be no need to replace a carpet after a few years of wear. The cost to operate this home is expected to be about half that of a typical home. According to Earth Advantage, the energy-saving features exceed the Oregon Building Code by 85 percent. Some energy saving features, such as additional insulation, two-speed heat pump and solar water heater add to the initial cost, but after the first few years annual savings exceed the additional mortgage interest payment. Even though “payback” may take longer, positive cash flow (more money staying in than going out) should occur within the first few years.
Exceptional energy performance was recognized by the Energy Star Homes program. Overall environmental friendliness earned the top honor from Earth Advantage: Platinum Certification. To learn more about the features, follow the links in the feature list to the right.
Most people believe all this to be expensive. Not so. The final construction cost was typical for the market and level of quality—about $106 per square foot. The energy-saving and environmentally-friendly features are not extras, but simply different choices of methods and materials. Some people choose gold-plated faucets. Where is the joy in that? We find great satisfaction in living in an extremely energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly home. It’s priceless.
I just started writing a series of observations and conclusions from living in the house for more than six years. You'll find these ruminations in the Oikos Blog under the Lessons Learned from a Green Building Project section.