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Case Studies

Buckman Whole-House Remodel

Elegance meets comfort in Platinum-certified remodel

The owners of this 1908 home wanted to reinvigorate the home’s historic charm while tastefully balancing clean, contemporary design and deep energy upgrades. 

The owners of this 1908 home wanted to reinvigorate the home’s historic charm while tastefully balancing clean, contemporary design and deep energy upgrades. We met the challenge by expanding the kitchen, integrating fine woodwork and reclaiming the attic for a bedroom suite and yoga space with views of the Portland skyline. The clients worked closely with Erica Dunn, Lead Architect and Design Team Manager, to modernize the three-story home’s interiors while making significant upgrades to its systems, envelope and overall comfort. 

Utilizing Green Hammer’s unified design-build approach, the design, engineering, and construction teams collaborated to ensure the project would achieve Earth Advantage Platinum certification, a high-performance building standard that adds both value and extra assurance the project achieves its goals — including energy and water conservation, excellent indoor air quality standards, and resource and land efficiency.

This whole-house remodel was essentially two projects in one: A renovation of the first two floors and a tasteful, contemporary transformation of the third floor – a master bedroom suite with a yoga and meditation space. To achieve the requirements of Earth Advantage certification, we used a combination of three equally important principles: insulation, air-tightness and heat-recovery ventilation to maintain the interior comfort and healthy air quality.

To bring in more natural light and allow the homeowners to more comfortably entertain guests, the team executed numerous structural changes — including combining the kitchen and dining rooms, changing the rear entryway to create additional kitchen counter space, and enlarging the primary bathroom.

Transforming the attic into a master bedroom suite and yoga meditation room required considerable re-engineering of the space. This included removing a triple-flue chimney assembly and significantly strengthening the roof framing system with eight-inch rafters, new ridge beams, and the addition of structural hardware. 

“Our design approach for this early 19th century home focused on retaining and celebrating the existing character of the house while creating a spatial flow that meets the needs of modern family life. Aesthetically the design juxtaposes clean, modern materials with the home’s existing 1908 detail and craftsmanship to create a clear distinction between existing and new,” says Dunn. “From a sustainable design approach, this whole-house remodel was no different than our certified Passive Houses. By using the same principles and systems, we were able to breathe new life and efficiency into historic homes, extending their already long life by another 100 years.” 

We reduced heat losses in the residence significantly, achieving an Energy Performance ScoreTM of 56.* We achieved air-tightness goals through comprehensive weatherization strategies such as duct-sealing, window and door-sealing, and installing modern double- or triple-pane windows throughout much of the home. We blew cellulose and fiberglass insulation into the walls, attic and basement.

We installed a Zehnder heat-recovery ventilation system (HRV), a high-efficiency furnace that heats the first two floors and a high-efficiency heat pump that heats and cools the third floor. A 3.5 kW rooftop solar array helps offset the home electricity use and charge the homeowners’ electric vehicle.

All of the lumber used for the structure and framing of the project is Forest Stewardship Council® certified, the international gold standard for responsibly managed forest products. Custom western walnut cabinetry made in Portland by Urban Timberworks is prevalent throughout the home. Of the materials conserved or reclaimed, the most notable are the Douglas fir floors on the main level and the large decorative and leaded glass windows. Several antique light fixtures and heating registers were restored and re-used in the home.

As mentioned earlier, the kitchen and dining spaces were combined to create an open floor plan and let the south light filter into the kitchen. In the modern kitchen, ENERGY STAR stainless steel appliances and durable concrete countertops offset warm, madrone cabinets and custom quilted butcher block. The main-floor bathroom was enlarged and fully updated while the tiling and fixtures area a modern nod to the historic character of the original home.    

On the third floor, Dunn added contemporary elements such as tilt-turn European windows, a steam shower, skylights, built-ins within the attic walls, and a “ceiling-less” bathroom that allows the exposed vaulted ceiling and wood cross-ties to run uninterrupted along the full length of the master suite.

The permaculture-inspired outdoor landscape highlights the region’s native flora. Designed by Michael Moyers of medium landscape architecture and design, the multi-tiered, three-dimensional greenscape provides habitat for local pollinators and much-appreciated shade during the summer months.

Completed in August 2016, this Earth Advantage Platinum-certified home in Portland’s Buckman Neighborhood pays homage to the period of its youth while taking a huge leap into the current century demonstrating an exceptional commitment to excellence in high-performance design and construction.

* EPSTM, by Energy Trust of Oregon, is an energy performance score that rates the efficiency of a home and measures it against similar-sized homes in Oregon. With EPS, the lower the score the more efficient the home. The score can range from zero to over 200, with zero being the most efficient rating.

Project Details
Earth Advantage Platinum-certified Remodel
Full Energy Retrofit
FSC Wood Products

Project Partners
Structural Engineer: Zac Blodget, PE, SE, LEED AP
Landscape Architect: Michael Moyers, medium landscape architecture and design
FSC Lumber: Sustainable Northwest Wood

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