Heading for Net-Zero
by Michael Cockram
Some projects come along at pivotal moments. Such was the case for the Rose House in Portland, Oregon, a compact home that served as a laboratory for energy-efficient residential design in 2004, and ended up setting the bar as the first house in the state designed to achieve zero net energy use.
Since this innovative small house has now been in operation for a few years, it presents an opportunity to assess how well its various features have performed.
The story of the house brings together a dynamic cast of characters: well-informed and passionate clients, an architecture firm interested and ready to make its mark in environmental design, and a builder honing his green building credentials. Add state and local officials dedicated to fostering energy conservation programs and you have the team it took to make this little powerhouse.
Several decades ago, planetary scientist Eldon Haines left NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to refocus his career on capturing energy from the sun. Once Eldon and his wife, Linda Rose, began to plan for retirement, they decided to manifest their passion for environmental responsibility in a new downsized house. The next step was to get an efficient design.
When architect Clark Brockman suggested the project to his firm, SERA Architects, it was a surprisingly easy sell. "The firm got behind the project right away — although we'd never done a single-family house project before," Brockman says. At the time, SERA wasn't yet deeply involved in sustainability either. "This project was a huge step in making [green design] a part of the firm's brand."
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The Rose House in Portland, Oregon, was designed by SERA Architects. The 800-square-foot (74-square-meter) house is clad in cementitious siding and trim.
Photo: SERA Architects
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Making a small space feel larger, the architects used an open plan and high ceilings to flood the living area of the Rose House with daylight.
Photo: Michael Cockram
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