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Green from the Ground Up

September 19, 2009

It’s a challenge to figure out the relative merits of new technology, and balance appealing, sustainable, earth-friendly practices with family-friendly budgets, according to Shan and Wendy Stassens of McMinnville, owners of Winsome Construction. But they said more and more local builders are taking up that challenge, and the Green Builders Guild is helping them with that.

The Stassens live in one of their own early earth-friendly buildings, located in a townhome in-fill project that went up in west McMinnville last year. Next door, two more units are currently on the market.

There are a multitude of facets to building “green,” Shan Stassens said. Using land efficiently is one, he said.

Working on an urban density in-fill project created a number of technical difficulties, and required compromises on some of the natural daylight and passive solar designs they would otherwise have employed, he said. On the other hand, it also used land already inside city limits, surrounded by homes, rather than requiring the sacrifice of farmland.

The building envelope is crucial to how efficiently a home can be operated.

According to Amity home designer Ted Nickell, the key is two separate walls, with a heavy layer of insulation between.

The Stassens chose a different technique – insulated concrete forms. It employs foam blocks that are stacked up, reinforced with rebar, then filled with concrete.

They say it saves trees, provides excellent insulating qualities, prevents the growth of mold and mildew, prevents pests in wall cavities, lasts longer than wood and requires less energy to heat and cool than traditional wood framing.

‘We’ve been having our clients track their energy use, and it’s half of the standard stick frame home to heat and cool,’ Shan Stassens said.

Excerpt, “Green from the Ground Up,” News Register – September 19, 2009