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New Book Offers Insight Into Design-Building a Zero Energy Home

8.16.18 by the Green Hammer Team
  • 21st century home

Sustainable Homes for the 21st Century, a new book written by Michael Royce and Richard Benner, follows the journey of two couples’ quest to plan and eventually build six homes that emphasize environmental sustainability and aging-in-place. The book takes readers from concept — a simple strategic plan — to final product — a medium-density infill community in Portland, Oregon’s Buckman neighborhood that produces more energy than it uses, has shared amenities such as a common courtyard, and promotes a bike-friendly lifestyle.

Designed and built by Green Hammer, Ankeny Row was the first age-in-place, zero energy, co-housing project in the United States. In Sustainable Homes for the 21st Century, the authors take an open and honest approach in explaining how they pulled off this unique retirement community, and share all the fun and fumbles they experienced along the way.

“This project is a shining example of how a few visionary leaders from the boomer generation took their high values and worked together to create a truly remarkable project,” says Green Hammer founder and president, Stephen Aiguier. “In a time when we are bombarded with the realities of climate change, it is fantastic to see positive leadership around how retirement can be approached in a way that preserves your values and works toward a positive future.”

The six townhomes in Ankeny Row, along with an additional shared unit, all meet the Passive House standard and are designed to produce all of their own energy from rooftop solar arrays. (In fact, after one year of operation, they produced far more energy than they consumed.) The super-insulated, modern homes have Zehnder heat recovery and ventilation systems, triple-pane tilt-turn windows, and plenty of natural lighting.

Thanks to careful planning and design, all doors and pathways are wheelchair accessible and all three-bedroom homes are designed with the master bed and bath on the ground floor. Some concessions were made, but their ultimate goal — to never have to move again — can be realized. A common space with a kitchen allows residents to host dinners and other gatherings. And, a courtyard garden provides a welcome space for visitors and residents alike.

“Ankeny Row was a very complex, nonconventional project in that there were six different owners and very ambitious goals,” Aiguier says. “A zero energy project had never been done at this scale. As the design-builder of the project, Green Hammer has taken many lessons learned from Ankeny Row to scale up and improve upon the pioneering technologies and processes tested there first.”

If you are interested in learning about the design-build approach to construction, innovative green building design and implementation, and/or how to create a robust co-housing or pocket community that allows you to thrive in all stages of life, Sustainable Homes for the 21st Century is a great read.

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