July 2014 – Progress in Pictures

Summers are always busy, and the crews of tradespeople working on Desert Lookout are making the most of longer and warmer days.  We started this July with a minimally framed structure, and have watched the roof go up, the windows go in, and now the exterior siding is being installed. Inside, rough electrical is being installed.  It’s hard to believe how much construction progress has been made.

Cory Tennison from TAC wrapping up the framing process.

Cory Tennison from TAC – in the middle of the framing process.

 

Blue skies in Bend.

Blue skies in Bend.

Quality Truss delivered our trusses.

Quality Truss delivered our trusses.

Part of the TAC team - Kenton Lueck and Marvin Raby stalled the Desert Lookout Roof.

Part of the TAC team – Kenton Lueck and Marvin Raby stalled the Desert Lookout Roof.

Desert Lookout - Ready for windows.

Desert Lookout – Ready for windows.

Tom - taking a break to check out the siding prep and new windows.

Tom – taking a break to check out the siding prep and new windows.

Salvaged wood waiting to be installed as soffits.

Salvaged wood waiting to be installed as soffits. Read more about it here.

Don Kruse and Bill Mastous from TAC are installing the siding.

Don Kruse and Bill Mastous from TAC are installing the siding.

Mike, from All Phase Energy is installing the rough electrical.

Mike, from All Phase Energy is installing the rough electrical.

Bill Kaiser from Elite Plastering is on deck. We'll be ready to start the exterior siding soon.

Bill Kaiser from Elite Plastering is on deck. We’ll be ready to start the exterior siding soon.

 

 

 

 

 

A Peek Inside Desert Rain – Progress in Pictures

Since Barb and Tom moved in to their new home earlier this year, we’ve had many requests for pictures of the finished interior. While aspects of our project are still underway and we will be taking many more photos in the future, we’ve put together a small selection to share with you now.

desert rain living room

A place to gather and connect: The living room is a place to connect with friends and family as well as the beauty outside.

Desert Rain Kitchen

The warmth of the reclaimed wood makes the kitchen an inviting place to gather.

Desert Rain Dining Room

The dining room, just off the kitchen, has windows on three sides, creating an openness and connection with the outdoors.

Looking at the kitchen from the living room

The open floor plan keeps the kitchen and living room connected.

Study and Guest Room

Barb and Tom wanted space for guests and space for contemplation. This room can be used for either.

Desert Rain Hallway Bench

Small spaces like this bench in the hallway create a space to reflect and find solitude within the openness of the Desert Rain floor plan.

After a Short Break – Desert Lookout Construction Begins

We had a short break in construction this winter along with a brief hiatus in sharing updates on our home, the project, and the process.  But rest assured, we were not resting. During this time, we were preparing for Desert Lookout.  This new structure will include an office/apartment, a garage, a yoga studio, and –  perhaps most importantly – will house the composting/evaporator unit for blackwater.
Staking Desert Lookout in early April 2014.

Staking Desert Lookout in early April 2014.

Early this April, we received the exciting news regarding the approval of our permit to treat blackwater — toilet and dishwasher wastewater — on site, without putting it into the sewer lines.  Desert Rain has become the first in the state of Oregon within a city sewer district to receive a such a permit, and with this good news in hand, we broke ground on April 15.
Breaking ground on Desert Lookout.

Breaking ground on Desert Lookout.

Breaking ground and preparing the foundation has gone smoothly and quickly. Now, we’re excited to see the Desert Lookout structure rising.
Desert Lookout Foundation

The framework in place for the Desert Lookout foundation

The framing of Desert Lookout is nearing completion in Early June 2014.

The framing of Desert Lookout is nearing completion in Early June 2014.

 

 

Mission Control

Since December, Desert Rain has been home to Tom and Barb. They are settling in, becoming familiar with the uses and mechanics of the many systems that are part of the site and structures. Last week the installation of the control panels was underway. When the work is completed the status of those systems will be visible data that may be used to monitor and optimize efficiency.

The Control Panels will monitor the hot water temperature and energy production produced by the solar thermal and photovoltaic modules.

The Control Panels will monitor the hot water temperature and energy produced by the solar thermal and photovoltaic modules.

To receive Living Building Challenge certification, Desert Rain must meet a series of rigorous performance requirements.  For a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy the data will be archived to determine the effectiveness of the working systems installed at Desert Rain. The permit is still pending for Desert Lookout, a structure that will have a dwelling space and house the proposed composter/evaporator system for blackwater and dishwasher waste. The clock will not begin until all systems are in place and functioning.

 

 

The maze of wires and components in the control panels.

The maze of wires and components in the control panels.

Powers of Automation a local, family oriented, Bend company designed and built the control panel equipment. President and founder, Steve Powers said this is the first residential project they have been involved with. They typically provide control and validation solutions to municipalities and large scale industrial companies. He had not heard of the Living Building Challenge when he was referred to the Desert Rain Project through a parts supplier.  He looks at this project as a potential way to diversify his business. Desert Rain will be sharing information about the monitoring systems and results with the Living Building Challenge community.

Powers said he used the same approach with the Desert Rain as he uses for larger system integration projects. He interviewed Tom and Morgan Brown, of Whole Water Systems to determine the need and importance of the data to be gathered.  Powers works with local manufacturers as much as possible to find components for the control systems. The Powers of Automation team use these components as building blocks to assemble custom control panels specific to the project requirements. Tom said, ‘the system provided by Powers of Automation is much more sophisticated than originally planned and will provide more information than the requirements of the LBC.’

The control system currently being installed will provide the following functions:

The Control Panels will monitor flow and levels in the constructed, bioreactive wetland, grey water tanks, and the irrigation system.

The Control Panels will monitor flow and levels in the constructed, bioreactive wetland, grey water tanks, and the irrigation system.

  • Fresh water distribution monitoring and pressure control
  • Reclaimed water monitoring and level control
  • Power usage and production monitoring
  • Composting system monitoring
  • Data acquisition
  • Alarm notification

 

The 35,000 gallon fresh water cistern and distribution system will be monitored for level and flow. Two pumps will be utilized alternately and monitored by a pressure sensor that will adjust speed to maintain desired pressure. Once the LBC monitoring phase begins, water in the cistern may only be replenished by collection through rainwater harvesting.  The LBC allows the fresh water cistern to be charged initially by filling with city water.

There are 7 pumps in use throughout the systems at Desert Rain. Each pump will be monitored and connected to an alarm/warning system in case of failure. The grey water, bioreactive wetland, reclaimed water tank, and irrigation system will be monitored by a flow sensor to determine efficiency of water flow and track evaporation.  Flow meters and level controls will assure there are no water overflows by alerting Tom to water levels and allowing to re-adjust set points.

Dan McCullough, Project Manager with Powers of Automation in 'Mission Control' room. Mike Wagnon, electrician with All Phase Electric Service works on installing the control panels in the background.

Dan McCullough, Project Manager with Powers of Automation in ‘Mission Control’ room. Mike Wagnon, electrician with All Phase Electric Service works on installing the control panels in the background.

For LBC certification Desert Rain must be net zero energy. The solar photovoltaic system is monitored with web based software. The power production is monitored and the data archived. Power consumption will be monitored at individual and grouped sources to determine what is using energy and why.  The temperatures and/or energy use of the hot water, air to water heat pump, hydronic radiant floor heating system, and electrical circuits will all be visible with the control panels.

When completed, the composting, evaporator, and vaccum system will be monitored for levels and alarms before any overflow could occur. The evaporator tank and reclaimed water tanks each have an overflow connected to sanitary sewer. Any over flow could invalidate the LBC water petal certification.

In addition to systems monitoring, Desert Rain will be outfitted with a weather monitoring station that will track barometric pressure, dew point, temperature, relative humidity, rainfall, wind speed, and wind direction.

A weather station will be linked to the Control Panels to track precipitation, temperatures, wind, dewpoint and

A weather station will be linked to the Control Panels to track precipitation, temperatures, wind, dewpoint and

Tom and Barb are eager to have the control panels in place so they will have time to watch the systems, determine what is working, and maximize performance before the official monitoring period begins. Tom and a friend will be developing a dashboard to graph the information so it may be more easily viewed and eventually shared. All the research, design, development, and installation of systems will be under scrutiny as the data tells the story. Desert Rain will be playing the role; as a home, and as a demonstration of sustainability in the built environment.

Powers of Automation supports local business. For Desert Rain:
Consolidated Electrical Distributors (CED) in Bend provided the motor controls, programmable logic controllers, and touch screens.Dent Instruments in Bend provided the power monitor systems.All Phase Electric Service is performing the installation of the control system. They have performed all the electrical work at Desert Rain.Field Instruments in Boise provided the flow instrumentation

A House becomes Home

Front Door

The construction door is gone.  In its’ place is a beautiful, reclaimed wood, front door that opens to say ‘welcome home’ to Desert Rain owners, Barbara Scott and Tom Elliott. It has been a long journey from their idea and dream of building an extreme green home to this week of moving in. After nearly five years of dreaming, planning, purchasing property, designing, permits, redesigning and construction – Desert Rain and the adjacent accessory dwelling unit are ready for occupancy.

The walkway and Miro wall create a guide to the front door.

The walkway and Miro wall create a guide to the front door.

 

 

Ground-breaking began in August 2011. Striving to meet the stringent guidelines and the seven petals of the Living Building Challenge created hurdles and delays far beyond what an owner or contractor would encounter with traditional construction. The Desert Rain team has embraced the challenge and found the answers to keep the project moving forward to completion of a livable home.

Tom, Lee, and Anna tackle another trailer load.

Tom, Lee, and Anna tackle another trailer load.

One obstacle remains before Barb and Tom can begin the one year auditing phase that will monitor the water, energy and air quality systems to show that Desert Rain meets the LBC criteria for certification. The blackwater system (waste water treatment from toilets and the dishwasher) has not yet been approved. Plans for the system were in the process of design and engineering well before construction began.  After many months of research, design, and working with the regulatory agencies involved in permits a proposal for the blackwater system should be ready to submit this week. (Stay tuned for more information in a future blog). In the meantime, Tom and Barb will be utilizing city systems that were required to be in place for the initial permit process.

Tom and Anna carry the infamous 'blue bucket'. The bucket holds thousands of nails that were saved from the deconstruction of the original two houses. Barb hopes to see the nails used in an art project.

Tom and Anna carry the infamous ‘blue bucket’. The bucket holds thousands of nails that were saved from the deconstruction of the original two houses. Barb hopes to see the nails used in an art project.

Living in a net zero water and net zero energy home will require a commitment to lifestyle that Barb and Tom believe they can embrace. With the bleeding edge design, construction, and systems in place Desert Rain is not an ordinary house. The mechanical room, monitoring equipment, solar panels, and technology are highly visible – a daily reminder to be conscious of meeting the LBC requirements.

 

Living a normal life within the parameters of the LBC may be a challenge. In a recent interview with the  Bend Bulletin, Barb said, “We don’t know how this works because we’ve never done it, nor has anyone else”. Barb and Tom are confident they will find the balance between the mechanical and technical elements that are imperative to a functioning house and the LBC, and the comfort and beauty that will make Desert Rain House their home.

A lone chair exemplifies the activity of moving. Where does it go? Where is its' place?

A lone chair exemplifies the activity of moving. Where is its’ place? Where is its’ home within the home?

 

Barb stops to excitedly see a favorite item being unloaded.

Barb stops her moving of boxes to excitedly see a favorite item being unloaded.

With the chaos of moving well underway, Barb and Tom are turning house to home.  The harmony of home and extreme green building will be created when: a favorite wooden salad bowl finds a place in the Forest Stewardship Council certified cabinet; a steaming cup of tea waits on the salvaged, walnut countertop; an old farm table from Montana reflects the sunlight streaming through the triple pane, energy-efficient glass doors; treasured art pieces grace the walls that are covered with American Clay. When the view from each window becomes familiar; when shoes are parked in the entryway; when friends and family are welcomed with warm hugs; when music and laughter flow to the ceilings; when sense of place brings a sense of sanctuary – Desert Rain House will no longer be a project. Desert Rain House will become –home.

The beauty of the FSC wood cabinets, the salvaged walnut shelf, and a well-known salad bowl create 'home'.

The beauty of the FSC wood cabinets, the salvaged walnut shelf, and a well-known salad bowl create ‘home’.

Congratulations Tom and Barb!   May your pioneering spirit, your commitment to values, your belief in the Living Building Challenge, and your love of earth and life – bring you HOME.

 

 

Desert Rain in the News – Bend Bulletin video and article

Barb and Tom

Moving Day is here!

Barb and Tom take a moment from packing, hauling, and unpacking for an interview and video with the Bend Bulletin.

Click on the link below to watch the video.

Desert Rain video from the Bend Bulletin, 12-15-13

and CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE.

To see all of the articles about Desert Rain that have appeared in the Bend Bulletin, please go to our  Press page: Desert Rain in the News

Awards for Wood – Desert Rain a Winner

Hidden from view, within the walls of Desert Rain is an innovative, structural element composed of Forest Stewardship Council certified wood.  The staggered, double wall, framed construction of the building envelope is extraordinary.  It was designed and developed to meet the stringent energy standards of the Living Building Challenge .  Though the FSC wood is not visible in the building envelope – FSC wood and reclaimed or salvaged wood is abundantly evident throughout the project. Inside and out – Desert Rain celebrates wood as an integral part of the project.

The FSC certified cedar siding glowing in sunlight.

The FSC certified cedar siding glowing in sunlight.

FSC certified wood was used in all the cabinetry.

FSC certified wood was used in all the cabinetry.

This September, Desert Rain entered the 9th Annual Design and Build with FSC Awards competition.  ‘Each year at the US Green Building Council’s Greenbuild, the Forest Stewardship Council US recognizes excellence and innovation in the use of FSC certified building materials in commercial and residential construction.  Award winning projects demonstrate that wood from responsibly managed forests can meet all design and construction needs. Selection criteria include the amount of FSC-certified wood used, innovation, and efforts to advance market transformation. The awards honor designers and builders who are committed to using FSC-certified wood and creating a marketplace that promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests.’

Doors, floors, ceilings, and trim use reclaimed and salvaged wood.

Doors, floors, ceilings, and trim use reclaimed and salvaged wood.

Eligible projects, including residential, must use at least 50% FSC certified wood (by cost) of any new wood used. Desert Rain uses 100% FSC certified wood in the structural framing, the cabinetry, exterior cedar siding, and the Loewen window frames. Other woods used at Desert Rain are reclaimed or salvaged. The exterior soffits, interior ceilings, and trim showcase the lumber that was reclaimed from the deconstruction of the two original homes on the site and a nearby, potato barn. That lumber was re-milled and stored to be used as the construction progressed. The myrtlewood flooring is sourced through Slice Recovery in Coquille, Oregon.  Myrtlewood from Slice Recovery is harvested as salvage, a by-product of the timber industry, cleaning up after the logging operations in fir and pine stands.

Forest Stewardship Council is the gold standard of forest management. Find out why!   CLICK HERE

 

A significant component of the FSC certified wood use at Desert Rain  is visually evident in the cabinetry. As a Living Building Challenge project, Desert Rain was obligated to use a FSC certified shop and cabinet maker. Owners, Barb Scott and Tom Elliott wanted someone local who understood the design, aesthetics, goals, and challenge of the project.

Gabriel Dansky with Dansky Handcrafted, Tom and Barb look at the cabinets.

Gabriel Dansky with Dansky Handcrafted, Tom and Barb look at cabinet details. Dansky Handcrafted is a FSC certified cabinet shop.

Gabriel Dansky, with Dansky Handcrafted  joined the team. Dansky has been building custom, sustainably minded cabinetry for decades.  He  had used  FSC certified wood in other projects.  Desert Rain was the catalyst for Dansky to take the next step – becoming a certified FSC cabinet shop. Though the paperwork, auditing, time, and expense of the process could be daunting, Dansky forged ahead recognizing that market demands will drive FSC certification. He sees that people who request FSC wood are generally looking for a quality product that goes beyond price.

Cabinets throughout the structure are made from FSC- certified wood.

Cabinets throughout the structure are made from FSC- certified wood. The grain in the veneer is meticulously matched creating visual flow and artistry.

Dansky Handcrafted has now renewed their FSC certification to complete the work on Desert Rain. Dansky has embraced the Desert Rain project where he said, ‘everyone can take pride in the quality of their work’.   Dansky worked with project designer, Al Tozer with Tozer Design to develop a design that showcases the beauty of the wood. The cabinets are an art form; the veneers are grain matched, flowing, and peaceful as they blend and accent the other elements and materials within Desert Rain.

From the structural framing to the finely, finished cabinetry Desert Rain celebrates wood. Wood is an essential and significant  ingredient in the function and beauty of Desert Rain. On October 23 notice arrived that Desert Rain was the residential winner for the 2013 Design and Build with FSC Awards. Barb and Tom will soon attend the ceremony to accept the award for Desert Rain and the team. It is time to celebrate –  the FSC,  good wood, and Desert Rain!  Congratulations Team Desert Rain!

post detail blog

Wood is an integral and beautiful element of Desert Rain – a cause for celebration!

Putting Out the Welcome Mat

Last Saturday Desert Rain welcomed participants of the Green and Solar Tour. The tour, presented by the Cascadia Green Building Council High Desert Branch included five commercial buildings and five private residences. Desert Rain was considered one of the most innovative and energy saving homes on the tour. Desert Rain is aiming for third party certification through the Living Building Challenge .

With landscaping well underway, arriving visitors were able to walk on the partially completed paths leading to the main house or to the accessory dwelling unit. The landscape design focuses on water conservation by using drought tolerant and native plants, permeable pavers and surfaces, and reusing the captured greywater for irrigation. The ‘Miro’ wall gracefully leads into the home and continues through the structure creating continuity between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

welcome path

The hardscaping includes the use of  lumber salvaged from the ponderosa pine that was removed from the site. Timbers are incorporated into the privacy fencing separating the accessory dwelling unit from the interior courtyard.

design signs

hallway The textures, materials, and natural color tones of the hallway create a welcoming ambience. The American Clay on the walls, salvaged, myrtlewood flooring, FSC and reclaimed woods, and diamond polished cement floors are some of the elements  helping Desert Rain achieve the Materials Petal for the Living Building Challenge.

The highly energy-efficient, triple paned, Loewen sliding glass doors open onto the south patio and interior courtyard.  As part of the passive solar design, 90% of the windows in Desert Rain are south facing.  The paving stones and decomposed granite used on the patio and pathways create a permeable surface allowing rainwater to flow through into the soil.

 

view from sliding door

All the structures at Desert Rain are designed to maximize roof surface for rain water harvesting. The captured water is filtered and flows into a 35,ooo gallon cistern located beneath the garage where it travels through additional filtering processes before it arrives at the low flow (1.5gpm) faucets. The harvested water will be the source for all domestic water use, including drinking water.

landscape signs

Ani and Amy

 

Some of the Desert Rain team were on hand to help tell the story of building extreme green. Amy Warren (left) owner of Green Apple Construction and her partner, Josh applied the American Clay plaster throughout the house.  Ani Cahill (right) is with Heartsprings Design, the landscape design team. E2 Solar owner, Mike Hewitt explained the 14.8kw photo voltaic modules to interested visitors. Tom Elliott, owner, Al Tozer designer with Tozer Design, and James Fagan and Kevin Lorda with Timberline Construction answered many questions about the design, construction, materials, and features of Desert Rain.

Green and Solar tour participants view, inquire, and admire the elements that put Desert Rain on the ‘bleeding edge’ of sustainability in the built environment. The Living Building Challenge stipulates education as part of the requirements of meeting certification. Desert Rain owners Tom Elliott and Barbara Scott have put out the welcome mat for a multitude of visitors during the past 3+ years that the design and building process has been underway.  They recognize that Desert Rain is their dream and a demonstration project. Their hope is that each visitor will go away with ideas, inspiration, and awareness for what is possible.

 

people on tour

Desert Rain – Green+Solar Tour

Desert Rain has undergone many changes in the past year.

Desert Rain has undergone many changes in the past year.

Desert Rain has undergone a major transformation in the past year since the last Green+Solar Tour. Please join this year’s tour to see for yourself this extreme-green home striving to meet the rigorous standards of the Living Building Challenge.
GREEN + SOLAR TOUR | SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2013

The High Desert Branch of Cascadia Green Building Council is proud to present Central Oregon’s 13th annual Green and Solar Tour. We are excited to highlight both commercial and residential projects that exemplify sustainable choices both for new construction and remodels. Check out the Tour website CLICK HERE and FACEBOOK PAGE HERE .

The south patio with pavers, rocks, and basalt steps.

The south patio with pavers, rocks, and basalt steps.

This Tour, which is free to the public, has historically drawn some 700 people through the doors of highlighted projects.  With this Tour, we are helping Central Oregon realize tomorrow’s living future through the sustainable choices and actions we make now. Tour starts with a Kick-Off event with informational tables and exciting keynote speakers at COCC’s Health Careers Building. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. with first Keynote Speaker at 9:00 a.m. Homes and commercial buildings are open at 10:30.

About Cascadia Green Building Council: Cascadia is a chapter of the US Green Building Council and the Canada Green Building Council, with offices in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. Cascadia’s mission is to lead a transformation toward a built environment that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.

The Desert Rain owners and team are pleased to be part of the 2013 Green+Solar tour. Welcome!

heart

A message left by the American Clay Plaster crew, Amy and Josh, sums up the team spirit at Desert Rain: it is a project of labor and love.

September 2013 – progress in pictures

The deconstruction of the original garage begins to make room for Desert Lookout.

The deconstruction of the original garage begins to make room for Desert Lookout.

The garage from the original homes on the Desert Rain site is in the process of deconstruction to make way for Desert Lookout. The new structure will have an office/apartment, a garage, a yoga studio, and will house the composting/evaporator unit for blackwater. Engineering and the permitting process is still underway for the blackwater systerm.  Materials from the old garage will be salvaged when possible. The concrete slab will be broken up to be used as patio stone in the landscaping.

The old garage has been deconstructed to make way for Desert Lookout. The concrete slab will be broken and reused as landscape pavers.

The old garage has been deconstructed to make way for Desert Lookout. The concrete slab will be broken and reused as landscape pavers.

Daniel Balyeat, Henry, and Jeremy have been working on pavers, walkways, and patios.

Daniel Balyeat, Henry, and Jeremy have been working on pavers, walkways, and patios.

After months of excavation, dirt piles, holes, and dust – plants have arrived and Daniel Balyeat, owner of Balyeat Landscaping, and his crew are amending soil and planting.  The vegetation is bringing new life to the site, softening the edges of construction and adding a glimpse of the courtyards, gardens, and pathways that will grace the grounds. In addition to the stones that were salvaged from the deconstruction of the original structures on the site, large rocks were rescued from a construction project and hauled to the site to be used as paths and borders.

Planting has begun throughout the site bringing new and green life.

The north side of the main house with reclaimed concrete patio and new plantings.

The covered walkway between the garage and the house with pavers and border stones in place. The 'Miro' wall is in the background.

The covered walkway between the garage and the house with pavers and border stones in place. The ‘Miro’ wall is in the background.

The landscaping plan utilizes a large selection of drought-tolerant and native plants. The Living Building Challenge requires that 35% of the plant material on the site must be edible to either humans or wildlife. In addition to the apple trees that were saved from the original homesite, there will be an area devoted to raised beds for vegetables. A good portion of the edible plants will provide berries and fruits for wildlife.

ADU plant screening

The boundry between the accessory dwelling unit and the neighboring property is narrow and shady requiring a plant selection chosen for screening properties and size.

Pavers are in place for the driveway to the ADU garage.

Pavers are in place for the driveway to the ADU garage.

Desert Rain as viewed from the southwest with the exterior near completion - paving stones, pathways, and plants in place.

Desert Rain as viewed from the southwest with the exterior near completion – paving stones, pathways, and plants in place. 

Exterior LED lights on the north side of Desert Rain.

Exterior LED lights on the north side of Desert Rain accent the beauty and texture of the lime plaster and reclaimed wood soffits.

Mountains of dirt have been leveled and moved. Moss covered rock and stones have been carefully set in place. Piles of pavers and reclaimed rock have been transformed to pathways and patios. LED lights have been installed outside creating a warm, glow on the texture of the lime-plastered wall.  Trees and shrubs are placed to provide privacy and create a sense of nature.As exterior elements are being completed, it is evident that the beauty and detail that have set the standard inside Desert Rain is gracefully flowing outward.