Earth Advantage development going up

By YVETTE SAARINEN
Of the News-Register



Right now it looks like an igloo village is going up on Southwest Eckman Street but come mid-June it is likely to be the first Earth Advantage certified development in McMinnville.
Shan and Wendy Stassens of Winsome Homes are partnering with their brother-in-law, Gary Johnson of Sage Valley Homes, to build two sets of three common wall townhouses. Wendy also is marketing the homes as a broker with Bella Casa Real Estate Group in McMinnville.
They are using a 50-year-old technology, insulated concrete forms, that is enjoying a revival because of its energy efficiency and environmental friendliness, Johnson said.
The process uses concrete poured into heavy-duty Styrofoam forms that are re-enforced with rebar and high-density plastic webbing that is spaced every eight inches. The building squares resemble Legos, Johnson said.
They are durable, far outdistancing the current 60-year lifespan of a stick-built frame. They stand up to fire and earthquakes and are predicted to save 40 percent in energy bills each year.
About 300 trees will be saved in the construction of this development, Shan Stassens said.
The homes exceed insulation code values and the heat recovery system reclaims 75 percent of the heat through a ventilator, Stassens said. The homes are extremely quiet because of the insulation value. Mold and mildew will not grow on the surface and it does not attract termites or other pests. Factory engineering assures that the forms are "dead straight," he said.
The Stassens are so impressed with the process that they purchased one of the 2,000 square-foot townhouses themselves. The houses list for $399,000 and the construction helps potential buyers, qualify for energy efficient mortgages. The facade will feature cottage-style architecture with compound shingles and lots of stone. Each will be equipped with high-end, low-voltage systems for the Internet, satellite and cable hook-ups.
Earth Advantage is a nonprofit certifying agency with an office in Portland. Andrew Shepherd, a builder outreach staff member, works with builders from grounndbreaking through final certification.
Shepherd said Earth Advantage was started by Portland General Electric about eight years ago but now stands alone. It is tied to Energy Star and Energy Trust programs. It has certified around 9,000 homes.
It measure four categories: energy efficiency; healthy indoor air; environmental responsibility, and resource efficiency. Measurements include a forced air heating system duct blast to test for leakage and inspection of insulation quality. At the very end of the project, a blower duct test is conducted to meter-test the air pressure outside and inside the front door to make sure the house is built tight.
Earth Advantage certified homes always rank at least 15 percent higher than code, typically run 20 to 30 percent higher, and some rate 50 percent higher. Those home are eligible for federal tax credits, Shepherd said.
The partners are members of the new Green Builders Guild of McMinnville. The guild will host an information session at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28 in room 102 of the McMinnville Community Center. For more information, call Shan Stassens at 503-472-7402, Wendy Stassens at 503-560-5189 or Johnson at 503-883-9001.

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