Sometimes, the words "green" and "sustainable" don't come to mind when we think of construction and household energy use. In recent years, however, the trend toward eco-friendly housing has surged as Oregonians search for affordable yet truly sustainable and innovative living.
One design and construction firm which has taken advantage of the housing market's demand for sustainability is located in Portland, Ore. It's called Green Hammer and its mission is to "massively decrease energy consumption and carbon emissions in our built environment by designing and building ultra high-performance living and work spaces that inspire urban livability."
What may seem like a lofty and idealistic goal has become a reality with hard work and a dedicated team of professionals. Innovative work has earned Green Hammer great honors, such as the 2008 Build Local Alliance Challenge Award. This award is noteworthy in that it recognizes Green Hammer's use of "locally and responsibly-sourced forest products." This is essential to sustainable building as a large proportion of environmental degradation generally occurs during the construction of the home.
The firm uses local, non-toxic, eco-friendly and responsible products in all aspects of the design and construction process. Not only is this environmentally sound, but buying local products enables Green Hammer to put money back into the community by supporting other local businesses in the area which supply sustainable goods. There's nothing like a win-win situation.
The design method Green Hammer uses is a structure called "passive house." It originated in Germany. A passive house is designed to use 90 percent less energy than a standard house, which is an incredible feat. This massive energy reduction is possible using a combination of solar power, wind technology and an airtight building envelope surrounding the house which significantly decreases wasted energy.
Oregonians have shown that they are ready to get on board with this revolutionary idea that not only saves them money but reduces their carbon footprint significantly. Houses are springing up in many parts of Portland as well as other Oregonian cities including Estacada and West Linn.