(Photo courtesy of Environmental Center)
In Central Oregon, fall means setting out for a day of learning about how to save energy before the truly cold temps set in. For the 18th year in a row, everyday heroes across our community will open their doors on Saturday, September 29 from 10am-4:30pm so that we can learn and benefit from their energy-saving journeys and experiences.
This year tour-goers will be able to explore both homes and commercial buildings, including zero energy buildings, Accessory Dwelling Units, an energy retrofit of an existing home, an off-grid home, a 1,000 sq ft cottage and a solar farm.
“The commercial buildings are both nonprofit organizations that exemplify that green building really is an investment in your bottom line,” says Lindsey Hardy, Program Director for The Energy Challenge.
Bethlehem Inn took on the challenge of reducing their long-term operating costs, for decades to come, by designing their new family shelter to be highly efficient and capable of producing almost all of its own energy. They worked with Energy Trust of Oregon’s Path to Net Zero Program, which engages projects early-on to raise the bar of energy efficient design.
The Bend Science Station’s goal is to be a living laboratory for the students and teachers who will visit, exposing them to the real-world application of sustainable building construction and incorporating vital STEM curriculum. The Science Station’s motivations were also based on fiscal responsibility—while the zero energy benefits of the new building are instructionally compelling, the savings and long-term operating costs are equally important.
“The residential sites are equally exciting with a wide variety of architectural styles and lots of solar! We have a modern home with fun angles and colors, a farmhouse style cottage, and a rustic, off-grid, timber frame home. It really just goes to show that there is a lot more to an efficient home than meets the eye. What you can’t see behind the walls is just as important as what you see from the curb.”
One home, cleverly named Crack in the Ground, rises out of the hillside at the base of Awbrey Butte, with its entire backside buried into the earth. While this makes the most of the challenging topography, it also takes advantage of the ground’s natural coolness in the summer and heat in the winter. The home is estimated to be able to produce as much energy with rooftop solar panels as it uses.
For those looking to reduce their carbon footprint while taking part in the tour, Bend Bikes will lead a group ride, leaving the Bend Science Station at 11:00 to visit 5 sites. The ride will be approximately 15 miles.
Two sites will host other fun activities for those interested in electrifying their transportation. Tour-goers will have the opportunity to try out an electric bike from Bend Electric Bikes and test drive an all-electric Nissan LEAF.
The Green Tour will kick-off with a keynote address on Thursday evening, September 27th from 6:30-8:00 at Worthy Brewing. Andrew Lee from the International Living Future Institute will help put the Green Tour in perspective by exploring how we can get started on the path to zero energy buildings. and the triple-bottom-line case for why getting to zero is an opportunity to support a thriving community and economy in Bend.
For full a full schedule and details about all of the tour sites: envirocenter.org/tour.