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Earth Advantage: Energy Proficiency Certificate

One of the first things I started to consider once we had an accepted offer on the NW Hoyt house was what we could do to be green and more efficient. There is a natural disconnect between efficiency and age. There are some unique challenges when rehabbing older houses, especially historic registry ones. We don’t want to rip out the lath and plaster because doing so almost ensures damaging the molding which is still in good shape but it precludes unfettered access to the studs and easy insulation. Besides, disposing of that amount of plaster is not an eco-friendly, cheap, clean or easy proposition. Some of the historic windows need to stay even though they are single pane to maintain the home’s integrity. To that end, Earth Advantage and/or LEED certification would be nearly impossible as their certifications start at 15% over current code requirements (and that the programs are primarily geared towards new construction at this time).

But can we move forward by grandfathering or ignoring the past? No. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that we will be working with Earth Advantage and their new pilot program, Energy Performance Certificate. The way the EPC works is that the house is audited before and after the remodel project. The certificate provides evidence of the improvement and gives a metric with which other houses can be compared; miles per gallon, APR for loans or credit score. We’ll lose some points by keeping some of the windows but we should be able to make significant improvements and being able to measure that is important.

Since this is the first property going through the certification there will probably be some revelations that will only serve to improve the overall program. We still have some final details to work out but it looks like this is an exciting road to be heading down. We’ve got our permit from the City of Portland for all the planned work and have submitted the application for the Special Assessment Program.

6 Comments on “Earth Advantage: Energy Proficiency Certificate

  1. I’d be interested to know your decision-making process with the windows. We’re getting ready to remodel our old house and are constantly going back and forth on this…which windows to replace, what to replace them with, etc. It’s probably our biggest character vs. efficiency dilemma.

  2. Our old neighbor in Buckman/Kerns replaced their windows with new replicas. They look original from the street. Sorry, though, I don’t know the details, ie single pane, wood, etc. They do not have screens.

  3. Get over the “greening” of your rehab. You sound like those privileged tools in the Oregonian this weekend that have a lawn on their roof.

  4. Stealing a phrase from a certain frog, “it isn’t easy being green.” It is apparently thankless too. I’m not sure I see the connection between trying to improve efficiency/lower consumption and earning the moniker of “tool.”

    Regardless, windows, in my opinion, are one of the toughest decisions to be made. I love the wavy glass of the old windows. They have a character that modern widows don’t. They are single pane and thus very inefficient keeping heat (and sound) in or out. Where do looks outweigh livability and vice versa?

  5. Heck, as soon as energy costs triple everyone will want to be green! I know it’s a matter of verb-age but I want my next home to be fuel efficient just like my next car…Gee, notice how SUV and big truck sales have plummeted? What’s ‘cool’ now?!?

  6. Sorry Charles, that was probably unfair. You at least walk your talk. It is “hip” to be “green” now, and as long as it gets a few Hummers off the road, I’m sure that is a good thing, even though for many a hybrid is more of a status symbol now, than it is legitimate concern for the environment. There is a certain classist under-current to the environmental movement that I find offensive.

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