Home and Garden Tour Focuses on Human Side of Sustainability

A focus at this year’s BRING Home and Garden Tour on Sunday, September 10 is how reachouthouse2local nonprofits are bringing sustainable housing to low-income people. Because eco-friendly materials and systems are often more expensive than their conventional counterparts, we typically think of green housing as only being available to people with resources. But working families, veterans, people with disabilities and homeless youth also deserve to live in high-quality, healthy homes that tread lightly on the earth. It’s exciting to see this happening in the Eugene-Springfield area.

The Youth House, developed by St. Vincent de Paul, is one project that showcases how green homes can be affordable to people at all income levels. The local nonprofit is “recycling” a former church on Willamette Street into studio apartments for young women between 16 and 18. Residents in the target age range can stay as long as they remain in school. By keeping the existing building instead of tearing it down, St. Vincent de Paul will greatly decrease the amount of waste sent to our landfill.

The other affordable housing development featured on this year’s tour is Emerald Village Eugene (EVE), a community of micro-homes for people transitioning out of homelessness. The project, supported by SquareOne Villages, will feature 22 homes for adults, many of whom are currently living in Eugene’s Opportunity Village.

The majority of the homes in EVE are being donated by local designer-builder teams. Two are being spearheaded by student teams, including the innovative ReachOUT House. The house is the brainchild of Lyndsey Deaton, a Ph.D. student in the University of Oregon’s architecture program. Deaton has a keen interest in homelessness and wanted to design a house with the needs and desires of future residents in mind.

As part of her dissertation research, she and research partner Christina Bollo interviewed people experiencing homelessness and asked them what they’d want in a permanent home. Many of the features they described will be included in the ReachOUT House.

“A lot of people told her they wanted a bathtub,” explains Paige Portwood, a public reachouthouse1policy, planning and management master’s student and member of the three-person leadership team that also includes architecture student Samantha Freson. “At missions they can only take brief showers. A bathtub symbolizes relaxation and safety.”

Homeless people tend to live in very cramped spaces like cars or single-room apartments, Portwood says. Although the ReachOUT House is only 180 square feet, it’s designed to have an open and spacious feel.

EVE is intended to be a close-knit community, and Deaton designed the ReachOUT House with that in mind. The living space has French doors that lead to an outdoor living space and the common area. This will make socializing and gatherings more convenient.

Deaton and her team are committed to using recycled materials in the house whenever possible. They estimate that 70 percent of the building materials – including the wood, windows, interior finishes and paint – are post-consumer products, many of which were donated by or purchased at BRING. The home is designed to consume 45 percent less energy and 30 percent less water than a typical tiny house.

“Micro-housing is already using less materials and leaving a small footprint on the earth,” the group shares in their promotional materials. “The ReachOUT House wants to make the eco-friendly gap even smaller with the innovative and creative use of recycled goods.”

Much of the labor for the ReachOUT House will be donated by University of Oregon students. Portwood emphasizes that the leadership team is interested in engaging students from Lane Community College’s construction program, Oregon State University’s engineering school, or anyone else who would like to get involved in a meaningful and worthwhile project.

Construction on the house will begin in September and is expected to be finished by October. EVE has already interviewed and selected tenants for the property, so Portwood and her team already know who will occupy their house: a 66-year-old woman named Alice Gentry who has lived in Opportunity Village for the past year.

“That’s where we get our motivation – the knowledge that we’re giving her a house,” Portwood says, ebullient at the knowledge that in a world filled with some many problems, her time and effort really can make a difference in a person’s life.

Professionals willing to donate services are encouraged to contact the volunteers at ReachOUT House through their Facebook page. The leadership team is hoping to secure onsite construction managers who can lead students at a couple of key times during the construction process.

Anyone willing to support this project financially can make a donation through ReachOUT House’s YouCaring account. Portwood offers thanks to the Rotary District 5110, Rotary E-Club of the State of Jefferson (D5110) and other local Rotary Clubs, which have made significant donations of money and volunteer labor.

Don’t miss the ReachOUT House, Youth House and other homes, gardens and businesses on the ninth annual BRING Home and Garden Tour on Sunday, September 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are available online or at the Planet Improvement Center, Down to Earth and Lane Forest Products.

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Working Upstream: Why Extended Producer Responsibility Makes Sense

Older televisions and computer monitors are notoriously difficult to recycle

The benefits of recycling are well known. By diverting useful materials from landfills and incinerators, we save raw resources, reduce toxins in the environment, create jobs and save money. It’s good for the planet and good for us.

Many of the products we interact with on a daily basis are made of materials that are fairly easy to recycle, such as paper, bottle glass and aluminum. But others – things such as hard plastics, computers, furniture, and clothing and shoes – cannot be recycled so easily (and in many cases, can’t be recycled at all). This creates a real problem in the waste stream.

In addition, some consumer and environmental advocates believe our whole system of recycling needs some tweaking, especially when it comes to dealing with those hard-to-recycle products. Why do products have to be made with so many materials that have no second life, or made in a way that makes them expensive to recycle? And why do our tax dollars pay for waste disposal and recycling programs instead of the company that created the problem in the first place?

For decades there’s been a small but vocal group of people advocating for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a policy approach that puts the onus for reducing waste in the hands of the people who have the greatest ability to do something about it: producers. Companies who manufacture consumer goods have the best shot at reducing product’s adverse impact by changing product design, manufacturing and packaging.

According to UPSTREAM, a national organization that focuses on the root causes of environmental harm, EPR policy has two related features: (1) shifting financial and management responsibility, with government oversight, upstream to the producer and away from the public sector; and (2) providing incentives to producers to incorporate environmental considerations into the design of their products and packaging.

Europe is way ahead of the U.S. when it comes to EPR. The European Union (EU) has been working on making producers more responsible for the waste they create since the 1980s, when it set rules on the “production, marketing, use, recycling and refilling of containers of liquids for human consumption and on the disposal of used containers,” according to its website.

In addition, some Member States set rules to address the environmental aspects of packaging and packaging waste. Since then, the EU crafted EPR legislation to “harmonize” what individual Member States had already been implementing and maintain a level playing field for manufacturers across the EU.

According to a 2012 report by the environmental group As You Sow, fifteen EU countries require that producers finance all costs of collecting and recycling packaging, and in 10 countries, governments and producers split the costs.

Although bottle glass can be recycled and made back into bottles, window glass cannot be made into windows or many other things.

In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brought together large retailers and consumer goods producers, with state governments, city officials, and NGOs, to start a dialogue on how to pay for recycling. While companies pushed back against the notion of regulation, a few participants such as Walmart and Coca-Cola have since started offering grants and low-interest loans to municipalities to improve recycling. Product stewardship advocates say that’s not nearly enough. Companies, they believe, should be footing the bill for the whole system.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) “supports product stewardship principles” as a way to reduce the environmental impacts from a product’s life cycle, and shift the cost of managing waste products from government agencies to those who produce and use the products. But it’s been largely up to state governments to enact laws. According to the Product Stewardship Institute, there are dozens of EPR laws in 34 states, often covering products that are difficult to recycle, like mattresses and paint.

Oregon has EPR programs for electronics, mercury thermostats and containers (bottle return programs are not managed by manufacturers, though). Oregon was the first state in the nation to enact a law requiring paint manufacturers to start a product stewardship program “to reduce waste, increase reuse and recycling, and safely dispose of remaining unusable paint and other coatings.”

In 2012, Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission adopted Materials Management in Oregon: 2050 Vision and Framework for Action. According to the DEQ, “The 2050 Vision takes a holistic approach to reducing the environmental impacts of materials across their entire life cycle–from resource extraction and design through production, consumption and management of discards.”

SB 199, a bill introduced in the Oregon Legislature earlier this year, would have required EPR for household hazardous waste, a category that includes solvents, pesticides and herbicides, and pool chemicals. The bill died in committee, but it shows that Oregonians are still thinking about ways to hold manufacturers responsible for what they create.

Consumers have a role to play in making EPR a reality for more materials. You can use your buying power to help encourage retailers and manufacturers to make products that are less toxic and easier to recycle, the Northwest Product Stewardship Council says. Here are their suggestions for making your voice heard:

  • Before buying a product, find out if the manufacturer or retailer takes back and recycles their products.
  • If you’re buying a product to replace one, ask if they will recycle your old one.
  • Let manufacturers know you would like them to offer a take-back program.
  • Share your knowledge and choices with your friends and family.

Sustainability Education Doesn’t Stop for Summer

Kids may be out of school for the summer, but that doesn’t mean BRING has put its image3mission to teach students and community members about the impacts of waste on hold. Our various education programs are still going strong thanks to partnerships with great organizations like Willamalane.

Teaching people about reuse and recycling has been a core part of our mission since we were founded in 1971. Since that time BRING has presented thousands of free educational seminars at K-12 schools, churches and community groups.

For the past two years BRING’s environmental educators have been presenting short, fun workshops to kids in Willamalane’s summer day camps. The curriculum is very similar to what we do in classrooms during the school year. Lessons are hands-on, fun and short. They incorporate Common Core Standards and Oregon State Standards for social studies and science, and can be geared toward people at any age.

image1The three most commonly requested presentations are on the 4 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle and rot), vermicomposting with worms, and papermaking. Education and events manager Emily Shelton recent took the latter presentation to 10 elementary-school aged youth enjoying a morning of activities at a Springfield park.

At a picnic table under a tall tree, Shelton mixed brightly-colored paper particles with water in tubs. The absence of power at the park meant she couldn’t demonstrate the real first step in making paper, which is to shred it into a pulp (she does this with a blender, which is a great way to destroy the appliance, she notes).

But the bins of pink, turquoise and lime goo were enough to capture the campers’ attention. “Do we have to touch that?” asked one girl, looking dubious.

“You get to touch it!” Shelton replied. The response was a group “ewww.”

But once the demonstration started the kids got more enthusiastic. Shelton showed them image2how to pile a thin layer of pulp on top of a screen, spread it around, then place it on a piece of recycled newsprint. She used a sponge to draw out excess water. When most of the water was gone, she pulled up the screen to reveal the final product.

Once hearts, circles and rectangles in brilliant shades started to emerge, all hesitation vanished. “I’m going to make another one!” said the child who had kicked off the shrieking about getting her hands dirty, running off to get another screen.

“How do you think you can use your paper?” Shelton asked the campers as they continued making paper. One person thought she would color on it. Another thought she would use it to make cards.

image4When everyone was done with their paper, the sheets of newsprint went in the sun to dry. As Shelton started to clean up, she explained that the purpose of this workshop was to get kids thinking about unique ways to use everyday materials, as well as explain the basics of recycling and reuse. The message seems to have sunk in – at least to some extent.

“What did you learn today?” she asked before she left.

“You should never touch pulp without permission,” one responded.

“Yes… but what else?” Shelton asked.

“We learned about how paper is made,” says another child. “It’s pretty simple. All you need is blended wood and paper.”

“Do you know what happens when you send something like paper, glass or cans away to be recycled?” Shelton said.

“They take it and use it again and it keeps going,” says one person. “That’s a lifecycle.”

Building on that answer, Shelton made an effort to draw a connection between the paper they’d just made and the recycling process they participate in at home. Mills need raw materials to make paper. They can extract those raw materials from the earth by cutting down trees, or they can turn old paper into new and cut down fewer trees. The best way for them to get recycled paper is for people to be diligent about recycling paper at home. “By doing that you’re helping Mother Nature,” she said.

“What’s Mother Nature?” a child asked.

Obviously there’s still more work to be done to educate children about sustainability. But thanks to BRING’s many partnerships with school districts and community groups, that child might get another fun and inspiring from Shelton in the future.

Baseball and Bikes with BRING Next Week

We have two can’t-miss events coming up next week!

emsJoin BRING Recycling at PK Park on Good Karma Monday, July 10 as the Eugene Emeralds take on the Tri-City Dust Devils. As part of the Good Karma Monday program, friends and supporters of BRING will be able to name their own ticket price at the box office. That’s right – pay whatever price you want for the baseball game (in dollar increments) – $3, $5, $10, $YOUR PRICE. Fifty percent (50%) of what our fans choose to pay will be donated to BRING.

Tickets must be purchased on game day at the ticket window. The game starts at 7:05pm. Good Karma Monday is presented by Café Yumm! and Yogi.

bicycle repair it2And coming up that weekend… Do you want to know how to care for your bike and get more enjoyment out of riding it? Join BRING for the latest in our series of Repair It! workshops, which will focus on bicycle maintenance and repair. This hands-on event, sponsored by Arriving by Bike, will provide plenty of knowledge and inspiration.

The Repir It! workshop will place at the Planet Improvement Center, 4446 Franklin Blvd. in Glenwood from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 15. Pre-registration is not required, but come early as this is a popular workshop. There is a $3 to $5 suggested donation per participant.

The Down and Dirty on Disposable Diapers

The Oregon Country Fair is coming up July 7 to 9. BRING will once again be making your peachy experience a little less poopy by providing a cloth diaper service. Cloth diapers will be available for $10 per dozen with a $30 refundable deposit. Plastic storage bags and pins are available, but diaper covers are not. Diapers can be rented or returned during Fair hours. Diaper service is located on Wally’s Way, near the Childcare area. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

While you’re thinking about diapers (something you probably do a lot if you’re a parent, and avoid at all costs if you aren’t), we thought we’d take this opportunity to do a little diaper education. Disposable diapers represent a surprisingly large portion of the waste stream, so it’s worth having anyone engaged in diapering think about ways to cut down on consumption.

Many eco-friendly parents have turned to cloth diapers as a greener alternative, but they may not be as environmentally sustainable as you think. We dig into why cloth diapers aren’t the end-all, be-all for planet-loving parents.

Diapers in the waste stream

In 1998 (the last time data was compiled) the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that Americans threw away close to 20 billion disposable diapers every year. Given that nearly 95 percent of all households with children reported using disposal diapers at some point, this figure probably isn’t surprising. In total, diapers made up 2.1 percent of everything we throw away in a year.

One of the problems with putting diapers in landfills is that they contain fecal matter, which makes them more hazardous than other types of waste. (Technically, users are supposed to place all fecal matter in the toilet before trashing disposable diapers, but studies show than fewer than one percent of Americans do that.) Should they spill out of a trash container – or should a landfill begin to leak – they pose a real health and environmental danger.

And forget about the environmental impact for a minute and look at the cost. A breakdown on this website estimates that it costs about $750 to keep a child in diapers for a year. The cost of cloth diapers (factoring in the initial investment of buying the diapers and covers) is estimated at $225 a year. This assumes the family washes their own diapers and does not pay for a diaper service.

Cloth diapers vs. disposal diapers

Cloth diapers have long been considered the greener alternative to disposable diapers. To begin with, they aren’t disposable, which should automatically make them better than their non-reusable counterparts. Diaper covers can often be passed on to another family when you’re finished using them. Any cloth diapers you can’t give away or sell can be used as rags. This gives them a life even beyond their initial purpose.

However, the conversation about whether cloth diapers are better than disposal diapers is not as clear cut as you might expect. There’s been a lot of debate over the years about whether using cloth diapers will really lower your carbon footprint that much.

When you think about it, cloth diapers still consume resources. Someone has to grow cotton, bamboo or other fibers to make them. Non-organic cotton in particular is a very water- and pesticide-intensive crop that requires a huge amount of input, which has a negative impact on people and the planet. Then the fibers must be transported (typically from far-away places) and manufactured into cloth. The synthetic diaper covers also must be manufactured and transported.

Cloth diapers have to be washed frequently so smell and bacteria doesn’t built up. They also need to be washed in warm to hot water, often with bleach or another type of disinfectant. Washing machines use a lot of water and energy. When you have to dry diapers in the dryer (as opposed to a clothesline), that takes even more energy.

A report (available for download in this Washington Post article) from the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimates that the carbon footprint of cloth diapers is 570 kg of CO2 equivalent over 2½ years. The carbon footprint of disposable diapers is 550 kg. This is just one study, but it does demonstrate that cloth diapers may not be as green as everyone thinks they are.

In addition, disposable diaper manufacturers are taking strides to make their diapers less impactful on the earth. The article referenced above reports that Pampers and Huggies source their paper products from certified sustainable sources, and Pampers has plans to reduce manufacturing waste, water usage and emissions.

It’s harder to make a plain cotton diaper more eco-friendly, but there are a few things you can do to lower the impact of diapering even more:

  • Use washcloths instead of wipes on your baby’s bum. Wash them with the diapers.
  • Make your own diapers from flannel fabric you already have on hand. If you don’t have any, source it from friends or a craft reuse center such as MECCA or St. Vincent de Paul.
  • During the summer months, dry your diapers on a clothesline rather than putting them in the dryer.

Some families chose to shorten their diapering period through early potty training. There are multiple books that coach parents on how to toilet train children as young as three or six months. This isn’t a good solution for every family, but if it’s something you’ve considered doing anyway, the environmental impact of less diapering might be one more reason to go ahead.

Cloth or plastic?

The last thing we want to do is talk you out of using cloth diapers if you feel good about that decision. Nor do we want to advocate for switching to disposable diapers, which still have plenty of problems. Families often have good reasons for choosing one or the other; maybe cloth or plastic gives their child diaper rash, or perhaps they don’t have regular and affordable access to a washer and dryer.

Because we’re dedicated to keeping items out of the waste stream and encouraging reuse whenever possible, we still feel good about giving a thumbs up to cloth diapers. If you feel the same way, make sure to visit us at the Oregon Country Fair July 7 to 9. We’ll have all the supplies you need to keep your little one comfortable and keep as much trash out of fair bins as possible.

The Meaning and Impact of Embodied Energy

Whether it’s a water bottle, a carrot, a basketball, a freight train, or a pile of concrete blocks you found at BRING, there’s a story about energy that longs to be told.

Embodied energy is a term used to describe all of the energy that goes into the production of a product. From raw resource extraction to manufacturing processes, and distribution by plane, train, and automobile, each inanimate thing that exists originates from the earth and a measurable amount of energy is used to put the pieces together and put it in front of consumers. When we embrace this concept, we can dive deeper into our understanding of what it means to be ecologically sustainable.

Take the average toothbrush, for example. Can you think of all the energy required to create an inherently disposable toothbrush? First, petroleum gas-powered machines are used to extract more raw petroleum, which is shipped using petroleum to the manufacturing factory. Burning fossil fuels to power their computers, toothbrush designers spend countless hours crafting the next shapes and colors to hit retail shelves. After production, shipments of fresh enamel-cleaners travel long routes to faraway corners of the world, consuming even more petroleum and fossil fuels.

It’s mind-boggling, and it doesn’t stop there. What happens when the toothbrush wears down? End-of-life disposal requires energy, too. The garbage truck transports the toothbrush to the local waste-handling facility. Using even more petroleum, machines compact our trash and ship it to the landfill, the final resting place of the product and all of its embodied energy. This toothbrush will surely be replaced, representing an endless cycle of energy use.

Living a sustainable life includes minimizing embodied energy. And you may now be wondering: where is a good place to start? One way is to focus on either growing your own food or purchasing organic produce directly from local farmers, in order to minimize the distance that your food travels and eliminate the chemicals that are common in industrial food production.

The same idea can be applied to building materials. Using indigenous, locally-sourced materials generally saves on transportation and processing energy. Reusing existing materials means keeping the embodied energy that already exists in a product rather than requiring a new energy output. Purchasing durable goods and repairing broken items, instead of replacing, saves embodied energy and drastically reduces your carbon footprint.

What are your next steps for preserving the embodied energy of products you already own, or lowering the amount of energy required for the products you use every day?

Making the Case for Designing Better Buildings: Local Cases Studied

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings are responsible for an enormous amount of global energy use, resource consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States alone, buildings account for nearly forty percent of national CO2 emissions and out-consume both the industrial (thirty percent) and transportation (twenty-nine percent) sectors. When compared to traditional building projects, green buildings save energy, reduce waste, and lower the long-term costs associated with operating a building.

It’s no wonder that green building is gaining in popularity. Nationally, the green building sector is outpacing traditional building projects and is expected to rise. And Lane County is no exception; business owners are using green building practices to save money on construction costs and to create unique spaces that are practical, beautiful, and efficient.

Materials Matter

Michael and Angie Marzano, owners of Hot Mama’s Kitchen + Bar (HMKB), a new restaurant slated to open this summer at Oakway Center, made green building practices a priority. Whenever possible, the Marzanos chose products and materials that were either reclaimed or manufactured with sustainability in mind.

  • To cut down on toxic chemicals typically used in construction projects, Low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) paints, sealants, and adhesives were used.
  • Booths, chairs, and tables were purchased from a chain restaurant that had gone out of business.
  • The bar top was made using reclaimed teak, ensuring that no live trees were cut down.
  • Tile, made by Fireclay, a California-based company that uses post-industrial and curbside glass, granite, and porcelain, was used behind the bar and in bathrooms.

“We want HMKB to be a reflection of who we are and what we stand for,” said Michael Marzano. “We want to prove that you can reuse kitchen equipment, furniture, and construction materials to create a beautiful, upscale environment and save money while you’re at it.”

Emily and Bryan Jensen, of Thinking Tree Spirits, wanted to create a space that is aesthetically interesting and cost-effective. The couple was hands-on when it came to remodeling their space located at 88 Jackson Street. During the demolition process, they took care to salvage items such as exterior siding, sound and thermal insulation in the walls, wiring, plumbing, and glass. Several of these items were reused at the distillery and the rest was salvaged and reused in other projects in the Eugene area. In some cases, they traded materials found in their project for materials salvaged from other projects.

“We used the old exterior siding to create the bar face, sliding office door, and post coverings in the tasting room,” said Emily Jensen. “These pieces, along with our Thinking Tree, make the space both inviting and interesting.”

The Thinking Tree, created by local metal artist Jud Turner, is a life-sized tree made of repurposed iron pipe, valve handles, broken pressure and temperature gauges, piano keys, and many other found and salvaged materials.

For the Jensens, reuse played a huge role in their equipment as well. “The mash tun, where grain or molasses is mixed with water and other ingredients, is a 1960s dairy tank built by Van Vetter of Seattle,” said Bryan Jensen. “The reflux still and the distillery’s primary still’s ‘thumper,’ where Vodka & Gin are refined or the traditional Caribbean style Rum is finished, are stainless steel kettles reclaimed from a storage facility in Salem.”

Even the distillery’s primary still, lovingly named Floyd, is a reclaimed, jam-mixing tank from the 1940s.

Built for Efficiency

A common impression is that building green is too expensive. However, studies show the costs of green buildings are similar to typical development projects.  And by integrating green design from the outset, costs over the long term are less.  

With long hours of operation and equipment running continuously, efficiency was a priority for the Marzanos. “HMKB’s commercial vent hood uses variable frequency drive (VFD) to manage fan speed based on need, while the kitchen exhaust recovery system captures and repurposes heat straight from the stovetop below,” said Michael Marzano. “We worked with Rowell Brokaw, a local architectural firm, to create an equipment platform to decrease the metal and ductwork needed for venting the kitchen and heating equipment and to increase equipment efficiency.”

The restaurant is designed to make the most of natural light. LED fixtures and lighting controls will save twenty-five percent on lighting costs compared to halogen or track lighting.

The Jensens agree that saving on operating costs was imperative. “Energy use is an important factor, and water use, even more so,” said Bryan Jensen. Water plays a key role not only in the distilling process, which adds to the flavor of the Spirit, but also in the heating and cooling process.

“The distillery’s proudest accomplishments are  two closed-loop systems, one for steam that heats the kettles and another that cools the stills then recycles the waste heat back into the process,” said Jensen. “By preheating the mash strike water and/or rejecting waste heat into an in-ground floor heating system that stretches from the Tasting Room and back to the Plant, we’re reducing about 50,000 gallons of discharge water per year at design-production capacity. The cooling system saves an additional 125,000 gallons of wastewater per year.”

A Game Changer

The green building business is booming. By 2018, green construction will directly contribute 1.1 million jobs and $75.6 billion in wages in the United States. The industry’s direct contribution to U.S. gross domestic product is also expected to reach $303.5 billion from 2015 to 2018. LEED building construction projects are estimated to contribute 386,000 jobs and $26.2 billion in wages by 2018.

Locally, contractors including RE:think Business, Essex General Construction, are seeing all kinds of green building projects including the new Mahonia building.

Julie and Charlie Tilt of Hummingbird Wholesale broke ground on the new Mahonia building this winter and set out to create a project unlike any other in the area—a commercial straw-bale building. The couple is utilizing locally sourced straw, a waste material, in an innovative design that is low in embodied energy and high in insulating properties.

The Tilts are working with BRING and other reuse retailers to source as many materials as possible. The building is expected to be completed in the fall of 2017 and will house additional space for Hummingbird Wholesale and office space for non-profit organizations and other like-minded businesses.

Additional Benefits

As green building begins to take its place as an important industry, the improved indoor environments are being recognized for their numerous benefits. For example, studies report that green buildings which utilize natural light show an improvement in employee productivity and a decrease in workplace injuries and absenteeism. More benefits will likely become known as the industry grows.