Going platinum on energy efficiency

Ashland home filled with eco-friendly systems and materials highlights annual tour
Allan Resnick talks about the features in his home that made it the first LEED-certified platinum home in Southern Oregon. It is one of the houses featured on Saturday's Ashland Green and Solar Home Tour.Jamie Lusch

The sleek and stylish home of Allan and Lynn Resnick off the top of Strawberry Lane in Ashland recently became the first LEED-certified residence in Southern Oregon — and will be the main attraction Saturday on the town's popular Green & Solar Home Tour.

The 4,400-square-foot icon of energy efficiency was not only the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) home in the region, it got the prestigious platinum rating — the highest level available — from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program.

If you go

What: Ashland Green & Solar Tour, a bus tour to five Ashland homes featuring the latest in green amenities.

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Starts at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main St., Ashland.

Cost: $10

For more information: Register at the North Mountain Park Nature Center; at the Ashland Parks Department Office; online at http://activenet3.active.com/ashlandparks; or call 488-6606.

The home on Birdsong Lane has just about every green, sustainable and energy-efficient system and material imaginable, including an amazingly tight envelope. The roof is composed of structural insulated panels (SIPs), and the walls are made of insulated concrete forms. The Resnick's installed a 2.2-kilowatt solar-generating system with 12 roof panels, solar water heating, plus geothermal heating and cooling from five dry "wells" going 200 to 250 feet deep.

"I did a lot of research. We built a house that's super green and we did it with style," says Allan Resnick. "Very green, very airy and lots of passive solar, too."

The angular home, outfitted with plenty of granite counters and dazzling Italian marble and maple floors, is oriented to pick up and store sun in winter. Roll-back awnings protect it from sun in the summer, and a state-of-the-art air-exchange system allows for a "night flush" of summertime air, which allows the house to start from a cool point in the morning, he says.

Designed by Ashland architect Carlos Delgado and built by Gary Dorris Construction of Medford, the home has a sealed, four-foot high, non-vented crawl space to eliminate heat loss and stabilize the inside air temperature.

The solar-heated water, if below desired temperature, is warmed by a tankless backup system and an on-demand recirculation system that prevents water waste and activates when someone comes in the bathroom.

All windows are double-pane, argon-filled, low-E glass and are situated for maximum light gain from the sun, allowing a well-lit interior even on cloudy days.

Building materials are green through and through, including low-VOC (volatile organic compound) wood floor adhesive, no-VOC and low formaldehyde subflooring, carpet of recycled nylon, no-VOC paint and FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) cabinet wood.

All lights are low-watt, compact fluorescent lights, and kitchen counters are illuminated by a string of low-watt LEDs.

Water conservation is achieved with low-flow toilets, low water-use bath tubs, drip irrigation, drought-resistant plants and pervious walkways. Even during construction, strict erosion controls and recycling protocols were in place to make sure the project was as green as possible.

Shooting for platinum LEED certification is a lofty goal. "It took a lot of time, effort and attention to detail. They review it at great depth," says Resnick. "What does it get me? It gets me acknowledgement of the capability of these systems. It's a recognition that what you've done has some value, as the certification is based on a national standard."

LEED, developed by building council, awards points based on the number of green features, leading to either silver, gold or platinum ratings. The system was initially developed for commercial buildings, and has only recently been applied to residential dwellings.

"The energy bill was absolutely excellent for a 1,000-square-foot home," says Resnick, a retired electrical engineer with 40 years of experience in semiconductors. "It was $20 to $25 a month. During the temperatures of 95 to 105 degrees, it was a little over $30. Normal in this area (with old energy systems) would be $450," he says.

Other homes on the tour will include:

  • An existing home that was retrofitted with solar panels, solar water heating and light tubes.
  • A strawbale house with air distribution, slab flooring, heat recovery, shower drain and Tulikivi high-mass stove.
  • A small cottage with completely insulated, high R-value slab flooring, sustainable finish materials and ductless heat pump.
  • A house built with advanced framing techniques and raised heel trusses so insulated walls reach higher.
  • A home with a whole-house cooling fan, so air conditioning isn't needed, and hydronic floor heating.

All tour participants will travel by bus to the five home sites, with a bring-your-own lunch stop along the way. Pre-registration for the tour is required, and is limited to 100 people over age 16. Register for $10 at North Mountain Park Nature Center; at the Ashland Parks Department Office; online at http://activenet3.active.com/ashlandparks; or call 488-6606.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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