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On-Screen Green

Sustainable living. Eco-friendly homes. To the uninitiated, these concepts might be confusing.

Enter Don McCoy and Kim Lewis, who want to explain what it means to be "green."

If you feel baffled by the notion of a green lifestyle or want to ensure that your decisions are green-friendly, you might want to check out a locally produced video series that will begin to air Tuesday on Southern Oregon Public Television. The series, produced by McCoy and Lewis, is intended to demystify the language and concepts of the sustainable building movement.

"It's raising people's awareness, helping them understand that green building is the way to go," says McCoy, an ecobroker for Exit Realty in Medford and the series' executive producer.

"Oregon Green Homes: Building, Learning and Living" is a two-part educational documentary — each segment runs 30 minutes — that is slated to air next week on SOPTV and eventually will run in rotation on Rogue Valley Community Television.

McCoy, a member of the Rogue Valley branch of the Cascadia Region Green Building Council, says similar offerings from SOPTV take a good look at the green-building movement, but he believes his project goes a step further with high definition-quality images and examples from right in our own backyard — or literally across the street.

The main subjects of the documentary came from a three-city, green-and-solar home tour in October, says Lewis, president of Kingsley Lewis and Associates, a marketing and production firm in Ashland.

Videographer Kyle Justice of Portland, who has more than 20 years of shooting, editing and producing experience for clients such as ESPN, The Outdoor Channel and National Geographic, filmed over two and a half days during the home tours in Ashland, Phoenix and Talent. The segments feature interviews with homeowners and representatives from various building industries that use or produce green materials.

"It's kind of a cross between 'This Old House' and a documentary," says Justice, who caught McCoy's eye as a videographer after he worked with Lewis on a video about Rotary club efforts in the Rogue Valley. "There's a lot of dialogue, and I thought the format worked very well."

A professional voice-over artist from Central Oregon narrates the beginning of the video, with Lewis and McCoy serving as moderators, speaking with homeowners and tour participants as the event travels through the valley over two weekends.

"I'm not an expert on all of this, but I've become quite educated," Lewis says. "I'm kind of the dummy, so to speak, who asks, 'Why this?' and 'Why that?' I'm the average person who doesn't know a lot about green building, but who wants to know practical answers."

Lewis says he was amazed on the first day of the shoot, when the crew arrived at the first stop on the tour expecting to find a handful of participants. Instead it was a busload of close to 75 people, all eager to learn something new about the green way of life.

"And it was like that at every stop," he says.

After starting in Ashland, the tour moved the next weekend to Phoenix and Talent. Shady Cove also had a green home tour the second weekend, but those homes are not featured in the video.

Financial sponsors for the documentary series included donations from solar businesses, strawbale home manufacturers, heating and air-conditioning firms and window companies, McCoy says.

"It's rewarding to see these people in the industry — and those on the edge of the green-building industry — who would make contributions to this documentary, just to get the message out," Lewis says.

The green movement is making inroads into middle-class America, Lewis adds, where retirees and first-time home-builders are taking steps "to be ecologically balanced and sensible and at the same time practical" in their home buying or building decisions. With solar energy, in particular, people are finding a way to not only harness electricity for themselves, but also return unused juice to the grid.

"It's power to the people," Lewis says.

He said the video team plans to venture out to other regions of the state to spread the green-building message. "That's our goal. We're talking to Oregon Public Broadcasting about more shows," he said.

On the Net: http://buildgreenroguevalley.org

In a screen grab from “Oregon Green Homes: Building, Learning and Living,” moderator Kim Lewis, right, speaks with Ashland homeowner Ryan Heyerman, middle, and Mike Morrison of Poly Steel, the maker of insulating concrete forms that Heyerman used in the construction of his home. The forms can reduce residential and commercial energy costs by as much as 50 percent versus wood or steel-framed homes.