Another key part of the story is the amount of labor put in by the Omeys, the contractors they worked with and their friends, as the trick to using recycled materials (which cost 50-80 percent less than new materials) is that they tend to add extra labor to a renovation project in the form of sourcing, delivering and preparing materials. The Omeys worked offset these costs with “sweat equity” on their part, volunteer labor and contractors willing to work with the materials provided.
Orange, the general contractor on the project, exhibited what they Omeys termed “remarkable” flexibility in making use of the recycled, reclaimed and rejected materials they found (all told, the house was framed using only five new pieces of wood). The couple got their hands dirty throughout the project, as did their friends, most notably in a series of get-togethers that got the home’s green eco-roof filled in and planted (with a little help from the city of Portland’s EcoRoof grant program).
The home’s solar power system is expected to provide for over 90 percent of its annual energy needs and, despite an initial cost of $27,500, is slated to pay for itself more than two times over the course of its working life. The system is part of Oregon’s trial feed-in tariff program, which means that the Omeys have a 15-year contract to sell all the power they generate directly to their power company.
The home’s solar electric system also helps to power its ground source heat pump (GSHP) system and radiant floor circulation pumps, which work to keep the house warm in the winter (with a little help from a super-efficient Rais wood stove). A two-stage water-to-water heat pump system transfers the ground temperature (which remains a constant year-round temperature of approximately 58 degrees) into water that runs through pipes in the floor to heat the house. The GSHP also provides hot water to a storage tank that feeds into the home’s on-demand condensing boiler, preheating the home’s domestic hot water.
The home’s high-performance wall system — including both insulation and “outsulation” — helps to make sure the house makes good use of its resources, and custom mosaics (composed of recycled tile, of course) add artistic flair throughout the home.
The home has been featured on Planet Green’s Renovation Nation and in Oregon’s 1859 magazine.