When LEED Isn’t Green Enough For A Home

There are green houses in Portland, Oregon, and there are green houses. Such is the case with The Commons, an uber eco-home being built that is “designed to reach beyond today’s highest green building standards and become the first U.S. home to meet the Living Building Challenge.”

To accomplish its goals The Commons, among other features, will generate all of its own energy when it is completed. To learn more about this innovative build out by brothers Garrett and Dustin Moon, we recently interviewed the Moon brothers over email.

image via Dustin Moon

EarthTechling (ET): Talk a little bit about why you wanted to develop The Commons to be a green home.

Dustin & Garrett Moon: We wanted to take on the challenge of building a home that was consistent with our values. We enjoyed the design process immensely and we realized as we were going through it that what we learn could potentially benefit others (through our blog, tours and the future intention of open sourcing all of the designs).

ET: You say of The Commons “Because LEEDing is not enough.” What exactly does that mean?

Moon: LEED took the first steps towards making “green” building mainstream, but it’s definitely not enough. The rating scale is points based and doesn’t really address the building’s overall performance in terms of energy, water, etc. The Living Building Challenge requires performance for certification.

ET: You hope to have this home become the first U.S. home to meet the Living Building Challenge. How close are you to accomplishing this?

Moon: Beyond the performance goals of the LBC, there are a lot of tracking requirements and while we’ve been keeping track – all our data are not compiled. We’re definitely still aiming towards it, but it’s a stiff challenge, so we’ll see what happens.

image via Dustin Moon

ET: Talk about some of the green features going into this home.

Moon: Some of the green features include  –

  • Super insulated and air-tight envelope (in combination with an HRV) to reduce heating and cooling loads
  • South facing glass
  • Low flow fixtures
  • Composting toilet
  • Grey water recycling
  • Nearly 10,000 gallon cistern – the entire house’s water supply will come from rainwater
  • Siding: salvaged steel and reclaimed wood
  • All wood is either salvaged or Forrest Stewardship Council certified
  • Net-zero energy: over the course of the year it will produce as much or more energy as it uses
  • Two green roofs (one is the garden on top our shop)
  • Once construction is done we will be a car-free household
  • High occupancy

ET: What do you plan to do with The Commons once you finish it?

Moon: We plan to live in it as two and a half families (respective partners and our parents).

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.

1 Comment

  • Reply May 26, 2011


    Looks great, how did you get the composting toilet permitted?

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