A Visit from G. Russell Case

Vermillion Cliffs in Desert Rain kitchen

This painting of the Vermillion Cliffs, by G. Russell Case, has a special place in Desert Rain.

On a Southwest backpacking trip a few years ago, Barb and Tom happened upon the Maynard Dixon Studio and were drawn to a painting of the Vermillion Cliffs by G. Russell Case.  They purchased the piece and created a special place for it in Desert Rain. On a return trip, Tom and Barb took friends to the studio and saw more amazing work by Russell on display. Serendipitously, Russell was in the area and the gallery organized a meeting. When Barb and Tom learned that Russell would be showing in Bend, at the Mockingbird Gallery, they invited him to stay at Desert Rain.

Artist Reception for G. Russell Case

Our community is so fortunate to have G. Russell Case visiting. There will be an artist reception on Saturday, August 9, from 5-8pm, at Mockingbird Gallery

ALL are welcome!

Directions to the gallery are available here.

"Desert Homestead" by G. Russell Case

“Desert Homestead” by G. Russell Case

More about G. Russell Case

G. Russell Case is a western painter, painting directly from the nature and landscapes tat inspire him. He transports viewers into a world created by shadow and light, of immense vistas punctuated by jagged mountains and inhabited by lonesome cowboys.

"White Pine Peaks" by G. Russell Case

“White Pine Peaks” by G. Russell Case

Born in the small town of Brigham City, Utah, Russell Case’s artistic enthusiasm was first fostered by his father, Garry Case, who was also an artist. His father encouraged Russell’s artistic talents and helped him seek exposure through marketing and local galleries. For fifteen years the younger Case translated his surroundings into watercolor, creating a foundation for the liquid vibrancy found in his later oils. This transition developed during his college years, where Case studied with the intent to become a professor of art. After graduating from Utah State University in 1990 and with the support of his wife, Susanne, Case decided to dedicate himself to painting full-time. It comes as little surprise that Case’s work eventually attracted the attention of a collector Dr. Mike Edson and his wife Karen. Case credits Edson as being a major factor in his success due to his attentive monitoring of the young artist’s progress: his vigilant observation, unwavering support, and learned guidance helped develop Case’s talent and channel his artistic energy.

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

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.

100 Stories

Today’s post will be a milestone of sorts; one hundred posts covering the last 18 months of progress at Desert Rain. Though the blog wasn’t underway at the beginning of the story, Barb and Tom had the forward-thinking idea of documenting the process of Desert Rain. When the project is finished, it will be sustained through the words and the stories.

Desert Rain on the day of the tour - many chapters in the making.

Desert Rain on the day of the tour – many chapters in the making.

Earlier this week Desert Rain owners, Tom Elliot and Barb Scott, hosted a  Living Building Challenge presentation and tour.  Builders, designers, homeowners, and people interested in sustainable building attended the event.  ML Vidas, sustainable architect and the LBC consultant for Desert Rain, presented the LBC orientation program.  ML volunteers as an ambassador, sharing the concept of LBC. She said she has given many presentations but this was the first time she had given one at a LBC project site.

Tom begins the presentation telling the story of the dream for Desert Rain.

Tom begins the presentation telling the story of the dream for Desert Rain.

In order to share the scope of the LBC and ensure all the workers at Desert Rain have an understanding of the project, Barb and Tom have a requirement.  Everyone working on the project in any capacity is required to attend or view a LBC orientation presentation. This stipulation is not part of the LBC but ML believes it would be a good idea for other projects to embrace.  It helps bring the contractors and subs on board with the scope of the challenges on a job site that is far from ordinary.

ML Vidas, Sustainable Architect presents the Living Building Challenge to designers, builders, writers, and people interested in green building.

ML Vidas, Sustainable Architect presents the Living Building Challenge and the metaphor of the flower and its petals.

The people involved with Desert Rain have an understanding that they are part of a project pioneering change in the built environment.  Contractor, Bob Claridge said, ‘there is a vibe on this project site’. Bob’s company, Bobcat and Sun Inc.  installed the solar thermal system and infloor heating.  Barb and Tom agree with Bob’s statement. There are innovations in building techniques and materials that demand research and ‘out of the box’ thinking. There are many stories throughout the process that emphasize the team spirit at Desert Rain: the lime plaster recipe, the metal roof being manufactured on site, adjusting nail guns to use American nails, a sub contractor picking up metal posts and wrapping them in blankets to avoid excess packaging that couldn’t be recycled – endless tales in the telling of the Desert Rain story. Please browse the blog for these tales and many more.

Tom explains some of the exterior elements of Desert Rain to part of the tour. Visitors included designers, builders, contractors, and homeowners from the local area and as far away as Germany.

Tom explains some of the exterior elements of Desert Rain to part of the tour. Visitors included designers, builders, contractors, and homeowners from the local area and as far away as Germany.

ML’s presentation encompasses the 7 Petals of the Living Building Challenge. She emphasizes the philosophy of the Living Building Challenge based on the metaphor of a flower; ‘like a flower it’s rooted in place and lives on the resources that it has at hand.’  Like a flower, the project grows and lives. Barb apologized for breaking into the presentation a few times to tell a story. She admits to being the ‘story person’.  More than four years in the making of their dream to reality, Barb and Tom have been sharing their stories.  They are sharing what they’ve learned in the challenging process of building to LBC standards. The ongoing tours and opening of the home and site are part of their commitment and belief in the Living Building Challenge.

Visitors tour the home and explore the elements and materials.

Visitors tour the home,explore the elements and materials, and engage in dialogue about the project and sustainable building.

This week’s presentation brought designers, builders, homeowners, and interested people from the local region and as far away as Germany.  Juliet Grable, a freelance writer from Ashland, Oregon came to learn more about Desert Rain. Juliet will be writing an article about Desert Rain for an upcoming issue of Home Power magazine.  Barb and Tom are reaching out to the media to help spread the word about The Living Building Challenge and the Desert Rain story. The Bend Bulletin has printed more than 20 articles featuring Desert Rain. CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLES

Barb shares a moment with helper, Zoe. Zoe's mom, Amy Warren is the owner of Green Apple Construction. Amy and her partner, Josh applied the American Clay on the interior walls throughout Desert Rain.

Barb shares a moment with helper, Zoe during the presentation. Zoe’s mom, Amy Warren is the owner of Green Apple Construction. Amy and her partner, Josh applied the American Clay on the interior walls throughout Desert Rain. Now Zoe is part of the story.

As you browse the 100 posts in the blog, the gallery photos, the pages of people, materials, design, and construction; you will find the Desert Rain story. It is a story of starts and stops. It is a story of trials and errors. It is a story of frustrations and sometimes, failures. It is a story of elation, joy, and successes. Most of all, Desert Rain is a story of what is possible. The story is still unfolding.

You’re Invited: Upcoming Tour and Living Building Challenge Presentation

Tour InvitationWould you like to learn about the Living Building Challenge? Would you like to see the structures, systems, materials, and components that make Desert Rain an ‘extreme green’ project? Would you like to meet the owners and hear how the dream began? Join us for the upcoming tour and Living Building Challenge orientation presentation by ML Vidas, the LBC consultant for Desert Rain.  Pizza and drinks will be served to accommodate the lunch hour and our passion to propagate any and all of the LBC.

When:Tuesday, August 13th from 12:00 – 2:00 pm 

Where: on site at 22 NW Shasta Place, Bend, Oregon  (Please park on Shasta Street below the house and walk up our trail to the green garage where we will conduct the presentation. )
Please RSVP to desertrainhouse@gmail.com   or call 541-647-1000
 

feature barrier blogDesert Rain House Primary Structures:

1. Main House (2236 sf) + Detached 2 (electric

car) Garage (758 sf)

2. Accessory Dwelling Unit (489 sf) + Detached

Garage/Shop (489 sf)

3. Desert Lookout Second Dwelling Unit (850 sf

upper living quarters above a garage, exercise

room and central composting system)
OLLI tour

 

The Living Building Challenge is the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard. 

Desert Rain House located in downtown Bend, is one of the world’s first residential candidates for certification under the international Living Building Challenge standards. This residential compound,comprised of 5 structures is nearing completion and will be entering a 12 month Living Building Challenge audit phase.
miro color

• 100% net-zero energy

• 100% self-contained rainwater collection

• 100% on-site processing of wastewater

• Carbon neutral and Red List approved materials

IMG_2867

We look forward to meeting you!

Plastered!

The plaster story started almost a year ago when the installation of the chicken wire lathe on the structures began. This week, David Kaiser Jr., owner of Elite Plastering and his crew are wrapping up the final stages of the exterior, lime plaster.  It has been a long process. Hand plastering and the preparation for plastering is time consuming but the extended lapse of time from start to finish is more indicative of the challenges of custom building, especially within the criteria of the Living Building Challenge. That time reflects waiting, weather, and the sequence of other pieces in the construction puzzle. David did not want to take the risk of cracks during the curing time frame due to impact on the structure while other trades were completing their work.

The plastering process began in July 2012 with the installation of chicken wire lathe on the exterior of the structures.

The plastering process began in July 2012 with the installation of chicken wire lathe on the exterior of the structures.

Once the chicken wire is in place the plastering can begin. With anticipation, the structures were draped in a plastic tent in December 2012. The covering allows for humidity and temperature control during the curing process.

The ADU was wrapped in a plastic tent way back in December, anticipating the beginning of the plastering.

The ADU was wrapped in a plastic tent way back in December, anticipating the beginning of the plastering.

David Kaiser developed his own lime plaster recipe for the Desert Rain project. All the materials; lime, clay, and sand, come from locations close to home – Deschutes River Woods, Prineville, and Washington state. The lime based plaster formula is based on the traditional mixes that were used during the Roman Empire. The use of lime in plastering applications dates back to the construction of Egyptian pyramids about 4000 B.C. It has since been refined and has found a place in green building applications.

The materials needed for the lime plaster mixture.

The materials needed for the lime plaster mixture on site with plastering pending due to weather.

Lime finishes, naturally high in pH, create an anti-bacterial surface neutralizing the development of organic substances such as mold and fungus. It is a breathable material that allows water vapor to permeate freely so moisture evaporates quickly. Roman plaster and slaked lime products absorb carbon monoxide from the atmosphere to chemically change it into limestone. This reaction not only increases the strength of plaster over time but has a great environmental benefit. Roughly, every 100 pounds of lime that is used will absorb approximately the same amount of CO2 that a tree does in a one year period. Lime may be beneficial in absorbing other toxins as well, passively removing them toward the outside environment.

David Kaiser Jr. and his crew begin the initial mixing of lime, sand, clay, and straw to help bind the mix.

David Kaiser Jr. and his crew begin the initial mixing of lime, sand, clay, and straw to help bind the mix.

Victor loads the plaster mix ready for application to the wall.

Victor loads the plaster mix ready for application to the wall.

Emanuel applies the first coat or 'scratch' coat over the wire lathe.

Emanuel applies the first coat or ‘scratch’ coat over the wire lathe.

The plaster at Desert Rain is a three coat process with the color being added to the final layer. Work began on the accessory dwelling unit. The first coat contains straw that acts as a binder to help the plaster adhere to the wire lathe. The layering process aids the curing process and creates consistency in the appearance and coverage.

The entire house was all wrapped up pending the plaster - ready for any kind of weather.

The entire house was all wrapped up pending the plaster – ready for any kind of weather.

Juan working on the second coat of the main house.

Juan working on the second coat of the main house.

A side note to the plaster story: Barb and Tom have set a guideline that everyone who works on the Desert Rain project must attend a Living Building Challenge presentation so they are aware of the scope of the project, the restrictions, and the goals. If contractors and subs cannot attend a live presentation they watch a video. Barb visited with the Elite Plastering crew. Comprised of mostly Hispanic workers, some with limited English, Barb was concerned they may have had difficulty comprehending the Living Building Challenge points and petals. As a result, the Desert Rain project will soon have a Living Building Challenge presentation video available in Spanish.

Barb visits with some of the crew as they install lathe on the garage.

Barb visits with some of the crew as they install lathe on the garage.

The final coat of plaster contains the color coat. The initial mix was applied to one of wall of the ADU as a trial. After drying, it wasn’t quite the color that was anticipated. With some tweaking of the tints, a color was approved and the plastering continued.

David Kaiser Jr. and Juan working on the initial color coat.

David Kaiser Jr. and Juan working on the initial color coat.

The north side of Desert Rain in various stages of plastering from second coat to final finish.

The north side of Desert Rain in various stages of plastering from second coat to final finish.

With the weather heating up this past week, the plastic sheeting has been rolled up revealing the final layers of plaster on Desert Rain. After a year of anticipation – the lime plaster exterior will soon be finished.

The south side of Desert Rain sporting the new color of the final coat of lime plaster.

The south side of Desert Rain sporting the new color of the final coat of lime plaster.

The plastering process has been an on-going story for most of a year. The initial chapter began July 2012, CLICK HERE to read more about the process and the product. The last walls will soon be covered in plaster. In two to three weeks curing time, Desert Rain will be unwrapped, revealed and finally – plastered!

The view from Shasta Place on the west side. Soon, the plastic will be removed (reused or recycled) and the beauty of the exterior elements will be revealed.

The view from Shasta Place on the west side. Soon, the plastic will be removed (reused or recycled) and the beauty of the exterior elements will be revealed.

 

Educational Gardening

Yvonne Babb (left) and Dorothy Freudenberg tackling weeds. The team approach with good conversation and more hands makes the work more enjoyable.

Yvonne Babb (left) and Dorothy Freudenberg tackling weeds. The team approach with good conversation and more hands makes the work more enjoyable.

Yesterday at Desert Rain under a sultry, cloud filled sky, I met with Yvonne Babb and Dorothy Freudenberg.  I went to talk about on-site weeds and landscape clean-up. The conversation quickly traveled to education, art, and gardening as the three of us discovered common ground.

Last fall Yvonne eradicated unwanted shrubs to create space in the terrace garden.

Last fall Yvonne eradicated unwanted shrubs to create space in the terrace garden.

Desert Rain and the Living Building Challenge promote education as an element of the project.  Yvonne’s business, Your Garden Companion, combines her two passions, education and gardening.  She works with her clients to create productive, beautiful landscapes that grow in harmony with the unique Central Oregon climate and soil. Yvonne’s gardening philosophy is a good fit for Desert Rain and the goals of the Living Building Challenge. Yvonne has been gardening with Barb and Tom at their current residence. Her husband, Geoff Babb, from his personal experience in a wheelchair, has been consulting the Desert Rain team on ADA issues. Yvonne came on to the site last year to help with the ‘secret terrace’ garden clean-up, weeding the rye grass, cheat grass, and mustard that are the 3 worst culprits, and start some plantings on the steep, rocky terrain on the west side of the site. Yvonne has started to replace the rye grass with plantings of native Idaho fescue to help stabilize the disturbed soil on the steep terrain. The rocky outcropping is home to some native Rugosa rose, Oregon grape, sage, and bitterbrush, as well as a few rockchucks.

The 'secret' terrace garden showing the lush, greens of early summer - a respite in the hot summer days.

The ‘secret’ terrace garden showing the lush, greens of early summer – a respite in the hot summer days.

Weed removal is strictly mechanical, pulling by hand to eliminate the use of any harsh or toxic chemicals that would be harmful to the health of humans and existing wildlife. The work is physically demanding but working in crews lightens the load. Dorothy Freudenberg was part of the crew yesterday. Dorothy, a friend of Barb’s, is a photographer, artist, Master Gardener, and today – a weed puller.  Part of Dorothy’s artist’s statement on her website (Dorothy Freudenberg Art ) declares she is ‘continually engaging in experimenting and expanding her expressive capabilities’.  She appears to be embracing that philosophy with her involvement with Desert Rain as she takes on various tasks to help as needed.

Dorothy - photographer, artist, Master Gardener takes on the role as weeder.

Dorothy – photographer, artist, Master Gardener takes on the role as weeder.

Like every aspect of the Desert Rain project, the landscaping is very much a team effort.  Chris Hart-Henderson and Ani Cahill with Heartsprings Design, are the landscape designers for the project. Chris has been involved with the project since the very beginning – advising on existing vegetation, site orientation, and exploring possibilities as the original house design was scrapped and the new design for the Living Building Challenge was embraced. One of the landscape requirements of the LBC is that 35% of the vegetation must be edible to either humans or wildlife. Chris and Ani have incorporated that into the overall plans. On her website, Yvonne states that she ‘integrates native plants and/or vegetables into her projects that encourage wildlife to serve as pollinators, pest control agents, predators and workers in the soil, creating a healthy place for life. Gardening this way on a regular basis is not only a beneficial physical activity, it is a journey of cooperation and learning about what plants and gardening strategies will sustain us into the future.’

Chris Hart-Henderson, Barb, and Tom contemplating the steep, western slope at Desert Rain.

Chris Hart-Henderson, Barb, and Tom contemplating the steep, western slope at Desert Rain.

A favorite aspect of my job is meeting the people who comprise the Desert Rain Team.  With my background in organic gardening, farming, art, and outdoor education, I have found kindred spirits in Chris, Ani, Yvonne and Dorothy.  Among gardeners there is often sharing, encouragement, and lending of hands.  This is most evident at Desert Rain as many hands and minds collaborate for the good of the project toward the goal of meeting the Living Building Challenge and a sustainable lifestyle. To borrow from Yvonne’s statement: ‘it is a journey of cooperation and learning about what will sustain us into the future’.

Tom brings the trailer to load the yard debris that will be taken to the recycling center for composting. Yvonne's son, Emory, taking a break from U of Oregon,   to help with the clean-up.

Tom brings the trailer to load the yard debris that will be taken to the recycling center for composting. Yvonne’s son, Emory, taking a break from U of Oregon, to help with the clean-up.

 

A Bridge to Mindfulness – The Living Future unConference

 

mindfulness Desert Rain is currently in the company of over 100 world-wide projects pursuing  the goal of meeting some or all of the Living Building Challenge petals.  Barb Scott and Tom Elliot, Desert Rain owners, recently attended the seventh annual International Living Future Institute’s ‘unConference held in Seattle, Washington. Desert Rain team members, Al Tozer, designer, with Tozer Designs, James Fagan, builder, with Timberline Construction, and ML Vidas, LBC consultant also attended the event. Living Future is the forum for leaders in the green building movement who are seeking solutions to current global issues.  The unConference is rooted in the Living Building Challenge and offers advanced educational sessions, provocative keynote presentations, technical information, tours, workshops, and conversations that inspire learning and networking.

Jason McLennan - founder of the Living Building Challenge and CEO of the International Living Future Institute - one of the keynote speakers.

Jason McLennan – founder of the Living Building Challenge and CEO of the International Living Future Institute – one of the keynote speakers.

The theme for the 2013 event was Resilience and Regeneration asking the questions: “How do we build, design and innovate in a changing climate? How can we reconcile our relationship with the natural world and form resilient, regenerative communities? “ The program for the three day event was chock full of interesting and compelling programs, summits, breakout sessions, trainings, and tours providing the opportunity to engage in the conversations of regeneration and resilience in the future environment.

Keynote speakers

  • Jason McLennan CEO of the Living Future Institute and founder and creator of the Living Building Challenge. He is considered one of the most influential individuals in the green building movement today.
  • David Suzuki,  Co-Founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. 
  • Paul Hawken environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author
 has dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment.

(information source – The International Living Future Institute website)

Desert Rain provides a learning experience for LBC water petal.

Desert Rain provides a learning experience for LBC water petal.

One of the educational sessions focused on the lessons learned from Desert Rain. Morgan Brown, president of Whole Water Systems and ML Vidas, architect and Living Building consultant for Desert Rain presented the program entitled; LBC Water Petal Solutions – Technology and Permitting Challenges; Lessons Learned on the Bleeding Edge. The session highlighted the three year process of Desert Rain seeking approvals for cutting-edge blackwater, graywater, and rainwater harvesting systems. The odyssey of the water systems and the challenges motivated Morgan Brown to propose this presentation for the unConference. In Morgan’s words, Whole Water and Desert Rain owners and team members ‘share the objective of setting an example that expands sustainable limits, is worthy of emulation and is financially accessible.’

The challenges of the LBC water petal at Desert Rain.

The challenges of the LBC water petal at Desert Rain.

Barb, Tom, and the Desert Rain team members came home regenerated and energized. I asked Barb if there was any one thing that was significant to her.  She brought up one of the breakout sessions she attended; Regenerating the Existing Housing Stock. Matthew Grocoff, is a presenter and pioneer in net zero homes, and also a young father. His words about materials and products used in home building struck a chord with Barb. ‘ I don’t give my clients a choice. I couldn’t sleep at night if I knew I was putting toxins in someone’s home’.  That statement reflects mindfulness.

The Living Building Challenge promotes the idea that buildings should contribute to and regenerate the environment creating resilience. The Living Future unConference annually brings together designers, builders, and home inhabitants that are thinking mindfully and fostering awareness about the concept of living buildings.  There is a need in the built environment for connectivity and practicing mindfulness.  The unConference is creating a bridge.

Morgan Brown with Whole Water Systems and ML Vidas, LBC consultant present the water challenges of Desert Rain while Tom listens with the audience.

Morgan Brown with Whole Water Systems and ML Vidas, LBC consultant present the water challenges of Desert Rain while Tom listens with the audience.

2014The 2014 Living Future unConference – Beauty and Inspiration. Information at the Living Future Institute