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News & Stories That Make a Difference for Your Home

Oregon homeowners use innovative ways to get energy use to zero

The folks who live in zero-energy homes are paying next to nothing for electricity.

By: Keely Chalmers | kgw.com

PORTLAND, Ore. — Did you know that residential homes account for almost a quarter of all the power consumed in Oregon?

Some homeowners are bucking that trend by making their homes zero-energy.

And a dozen of those homes will be featured in the Goal Zero Tour later this month. The tour highlights the sometimes simple and innovative strategies that homeowners are using to get their energy use down to zero.

The Tillamook Row apartment complex is one of the residences on the tour.

An array of solar panels on the South-facing rooftops produce the energy and then several things are in place to keep that energy inside the buildings.

Things like foot-thick walls, triple paned windows and decorative shades that help block the sun and reduce overheating are inside.

As a result, the folks who live there are paying nothing for electricity.

It’s a feeling Susan Leafe knows well. She also lives in a zero-energy home.

She said she not only pays nothing for electricity, but her home is on track to produce about 30 percent more power than it needs.

And she is pleasantly surprised every time she opens her power bill.

“It’s $10.64 and that’s really just the fees and taxes,” she said.

In addition to new builds, the tour will also feature homes that have been remodeled to be net-zero or at least close to it.

The Goal Zero Tour will take place Saturday, October 19 from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Portland is attractive to millennials — those buying homes, too

Home @ 63116

Three generations were recently surveyed on where they want to live, and Portland rose to the top, based on home affordability, crime rates, commute times and “community well-being.”

Millennials like the climate and jobs, while Generation X and baby boomers were drawn to social activities.

Potential homebuyers took Clovered home insurance company’s online survey stating their living preferences. El Paso, Texas, was listed first for desirability among the 50 most populous U.S. cities.

Portland came in second. More than 1,000 people took the survey, Clovered said.

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Opinion: Allowing homes on smaller lots will help ease housing crisis

By Justin Wood and Ezra Hammer | Wood is vice president of construction and owner of Fish Construction NW. Hammer is director of policy and government relations at Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland

The Oregonian SUNDAY HOMES — Skinny Houses for September 6, 2009 — 128 SE 86th Avenue, Portland. Exterior front. Merlin keyword HR090609. Photographed on August 19, 2009. HR090609 The Oregonian

The Portland region is currently staggering through another year of an unprecedented housing crisis. With prices creeping ever skyward, our families, friends, and neighbors find themselves living in the precarious world of housing unaffordability. These rising costs are having significant ripple effects across our city, leading to increased homelessness, declining home ownership and depressed activity in other parts of the economy.

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The U.S. isn’t building enough houses — and that’s not changing anytime soon, economists say

BY: JACOB PASSY marketwatch.com

Home buying is expected to ‘move further out of reach’ as new home construction still hasn’t returned to pre-recession levels

Home-building activity has never fully recovered from the last recession.

Real-estate website Zillow ZG, +1.54%  and research firm Pulsenomics conducted a survey of more than 100 economists, real-estate experts and investment strategists to gauge their expectations regarding the U.S. real-estate market. A 54% majority of those experts said they don’t expect new-home construction to reach an annual rate of 1 million units until 2022 or later.

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Homebuyers may have an edge as sales flatten

By Elliot Njus | The Oregonian/OregonLive

It appears a relatively good time to be a homebuyer in the Portland area. Mortgage rates have fallen to near-record lows, and more houses are listed for sale. Bidding wars are mostly a thing of the past.

But buyers nonetheless are sitting on the sidelines, brokers say. Sales are in a slight slump as a result, and homes are spending more time on the market.

“Sellers are putting their homes on the market and feeling it should be like it was just a few months ago, where they get immediate interest…People will come in and look, but no one is pulling the rip cord and buying.”

– Micky Lindsay, the president of Oregon First Realtors

New numbers from the listing service RMLS show a Portland real estate market that’s turned decidedly flat.

The 3,757 homes sold in August represent a 2.2% decline from the same month a year ago, and sales this year through August have fallen 3.3% compared with the same period last year.

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Power struggle hindering U.S. growth of renewable energy, experts say

Experts say net metering — the process of adding excess power from renewable sources to primary power grids — is critical to substantial growth of green energy. File Photo by Charles O’Rear/Environmental Protection Agency

BY Nicholas Sakelaris | Aug. 5 (UPI) — As more consumer options for greener technologies emerge in the United States, there’s a power struggle for control of the electricity market — between customers and vendors of solar power and utilities that deliver and sell volts to the masses.

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Solar Advocates Launch ‘Hang Dry Your Clothes For Climate Change’ Week

Oregon Public BroadcastingCassandra Profita

Oregon solar advocates have calculated just how much energy goes into drying a load of laundry in a clothes dryer.

On average it’s three kilowatt hours per load, according to Joe Wachunas with Solar Oregon.

Hang drying clothes saves energy over putting them in a clothes drier.
Hang drying clothes saves energy over putting them in a clothes drier.
Courtesy of Joe Wachunas

“What does three kilowatt hours mean? Well, it takes about a pound of coal to create one kilowatt hour of electricity, and coal is a big provider of our electricity across the country,” he said.

Hang drying clothes saves energy over putting them in a clothes drier.

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Remodeling your kitchen? Here’s why a Design-Build might be the best option for you

Originally written by Dima Williams | The Washington Post

When a dishwasher, refrigerator and double oven — all builder-grade and all nearly 20 years old — failed in a brief span in late 2017, Dan and Marianne Casserly pondered their options.

They could undertake an extensive kitchen remodel, or they could seek a new home for their five-member family.

“I was intimidated by all of the potential construction and potentially being displaced from our home for a long time,”

The Casserlys had purchased their large, Craftsman-style home in Falls Church, Virginia, in 2001, raised three children there and cherished their community, which is why they opted to renovate rather than move.

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Sun-centered Bend house wins top green construction award (photos)

Ross Chandler/Shelter Studio Sun-centered Bend house wins top green construction award (photos)

“This house was chosen as the best of the best because it perfectly fuses building science and artful design…It’s not only super energy efficient, wildfire resilient and durable, but also just stunning to look at. Great siting, nice views. It checks all the boxes.” 

Matt Power, editor-in-chief of Green Builder Media. “

Designer Jason Offutt of the Shelter Studio in Bend and homeowner Gretchen Rowe, who filled in as the general contractor and interior designer, poured so many environmentally friendly features into the structure that it earned the Home of the Year award from Green Builder Magazine, a publication focused on creative solutions to wasteful construction.

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When Green Infrastructure Is an Anti-Poverty Strategy

In Portland, inspiring stories of how resident leaders — mostly lower-income, non-English-speaking, stay-at-home mothers — push for change in their community.

A Living Cully Walks community bike ride.

NOTE: This content courtesy of nextcity.org. The following is an excerpt from “Resilience for All: Striving for Equity Through Community-Driven Design,” by Barbara Brown Wilson, published by Island Press. In it, the author chronicles examples around the U.S. of community-engaged design led by historically marginalized populations advocating for equitable, positive change. Here, she explains how nonprofit groups in northeastern Portland, Oregon, have fought displacement and pushed for safer streets.

“On the way to the elementary school there is not a pedestrian crossing and no sidewalks. If you want to walk your kids to school, you have to share the road with the cars, and if it rains, it covers the whole edge of the street, and you do not have anywhere to walk besides the shared area with the cars. When I took my son to school, I tried to stay close to the fences where the houses were, because if a car passed it would spray me with water from the puddles. … Also, in a lot of areas there was no lighting. It was really dangerous in the summertime, because there would be gangs that would come at night and be in the dark areas. You would not feel safe to go to the park or go to the schools. In the streets it is safer, but there are lots of potholes and things that could make a stroller fall over.” —Teresa Raigoza Castillo, Cully Neighborhood Leader

Cully, a neighborhood in Northeast Portland, is among the most ethnically diverse in Oregon. It is also marked by poverty, rapid gentrification, and inequitable access to quality public infrastructure. Many green infrastructure project teams flounder when trying to couple social justice with their environmental goals, but in Cully green infrastructure provision is linked explicitly with wealth building and anti-displacement goals through a coalition called Living Cully. Living Cully is the brainchild of Verde, a community-based nonprofit with a mission to “build environmental wealth through Social Enterprise, Outreach, and Advocacy.” Using the momentum and resources in Portland’s EcoDistrict approach, but focused on grassroots, resident leadership to drive urban change, Living Cully is now a robust network of community organizations and resident leaders all working in concert to build local resident capacity, improve local infrastructure, and fight the forces of displacement those improvements might otherwise bring.

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