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Case study: LEED silver-certified home in Oregon


Tom Kelly is president of Neil Kelly Company, a design/build firm that his father founded 60 years ago in Portland, Oregon. Neil Kelly has supported sustainable building practices long before “green building” was in vogue and has taken a strong leadership position with the construction of Tom’s home in Parkdale, Oregon. The house is the first home on the West Coast to receive LEED for Homes Silver Certification.

“For all the years we’ve urged our employees, suppliers and clients to build and remodel in a sustainable manner, Barbara [Kelly’s wife] and I have always wanted to build a showcase for sustainable design, construction and living,” Tom Kelly said. “We believe this is the future of home building.”

The United States Green Building Council’s LEED program requires energy efficient and sustainable building practices and materials, but it goes much deeper than those concerns. Using durable, energy-efficient products like following all contribute to increased energy efficiency and sustainability through the sound application of building science methods and technology:

  • Integrity windows and doors and other ENERGY STAR-qualified products
  • FSC and reclaimed wood
  • concrete with either 75 percent recycled glass or 50 percent recycled paper and fly ash content
  • metal roof with 30 percent recycled material
  • a rain screen exterior siding system
  • staggered studs for thicker wall construction
  • dual tracking photovoltaic solar panels that can use both direct and diffuse sunlight
  • foam-in-place spray insulation
  • wood-and-foam roof panels

However, other subtle factors are an essential component. The three-bedroom, two-bath home is modest in size and designed to harmoniously coexist with the building site and its surroundings. The home is purposefully situated with its long axis running east-west: The residence can take advantage of the more than 30 Integrity casement, awning and picture windows, capturing the light and heat through the south-facing wall of glass while the operating windows on the north and northwest sides of the home capture and circulate the prevailing winds through the home. This design provides natural heating and cooling as well as ambient light that enhance the homes indoor environmental quality and energy efficiency.

The combination of this thoughtful design, technology and cutting-edge building practice make Tom Kelly’s home a “net-zero energy” building — it creates at least as much energy as uses on an annual basis. When its energy needs outpace its home production system, electricity is pulled from the power company’s grid. But when energy production outpaces usage, the excess energy is “sold” to the power company and flows into the power grid, eliminating the need for battery storage and making this home anything but a drag on our precious resources.