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Tasting Room at Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden Is the First Commercial Building in Oregon to Earn Living Building™ Certification

5.16.18
  • Cowhorn Wines
  • Cowhorn Wines

The tasting room at Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden has officially earned Living Building™ Certification, making it the first commercial building in Oregon and the first winery to earn what’s regarded as the world’s most rigorous green building standard. Green Hammer, a unified design-build firm based in Portland, designed and built the 2,200-square-foot tasting room, which includes a case storage area.

Developed by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), Living Building Certification requires that buildings produce as much or more energy than they use and meet 100 percent of their water needs onsite through a closed-loop system. As of May 2018, only 20 buildings worldwide have achieved Living Building certification, according to the ILFI.

Certification is based on actual, rather than modeled or anticipated, performance across energy, water and other environmental, social and community impact imperatives. Therefore, the tasting room at Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden had to be operational for at least 12 consecutive months prior to achieving Living Building Certification. Since opening in early 2017, the building’s 15.96 kW photovoltaic system generated, on average, 175 percent of the building’s total energy needs. All of the building’s water requirements are met by an appropriately sized, closed-loop system, where water is supplied by an on-site well and wastewater is treated on site and restored to the groundwater.

Green Hammer rigorously reviewed and verified the ingredients of every material slated for installation — ranging from hardware to drywall — to verify that they were free of toxic and bio-accumulative substances pervasive in most building materials. In addition, only Forest Stewardship Council®–certified wood was used in building construction, and the vast majority of building materials came from within 600 miles of the construction site. 

“The tasting room at Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden is a beautiful example of what a business can achieve when it engages a unified design-build team right from the start,” says Amanda Sturgeon, CEO of the ILFI and author of Creating Biophilic Buildings. “By enlisting the help of an experienced, forward-thinking firm like Green Hammer, Cowhorn achieved what no other winery has been able to achieve while creating a beautiful, inviting space where the public can enjoy its wine.”

Mirroring Cowhorn’s approach to farming, the materials selected for the tasting room — wood, cork, glass, steel and other natural building materials — were handpicked for their simplicity, natural beauty and chemical make-up while reflecting the sophistication of Cowhorn’s award-winning winemaking process.

“Our farming and winemaking philosophy is similar to our building philosophy — by focusing on restorative rather than extractive processes, we produce higher-quality wine with fewer resources,” says Barbara Steele, co-owner and winemaker at Cowhorn Wines. “People can taste the difference when they drink our wine, and they can feel the difference when they walk in the tasting room.”

The tasting room, which is a popular destination in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley, has exceptional indoor air quality due to its high-performance HVAC system and the use of natural building materials. It utilizes the most efficient water-heating technology available today. And its super-insulated, airtight building envelope and triple-paned windows contribute to the building’s overall energy efficiency.

Green Hammer and Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden were officially recognized by the ILFI at the Living Future unConference, May 2, 2018, in Portland. “This achievement should be celebrated by Cowhorn, Green Hammer, and a long list of design consultants, vendors and trade contractors who worked on the project. This achievement also goes beyond the project partners and should be a feather in the hat for the entire green building community in Oregon, which has been pushing the envelope for decades to prove that the state’s net-zero energy goals can be achieved today,” says Stephen Aiguier, Green Hammer founder and CEO.

About Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden

Currently one of a few certified organic and Biodynamic wineries in Southern Oregon, Cowhorn is among the first certified Biodynamic estate wineries and commercial farms in the United States. Cowhorn’s 25-acre vineyard currently produces about 4,000 cases of wine a year—a mix of Syrah, Grenache, Viognier and white Rhône blends. The commercial farm also produces more than 8,000 pounds of produce each year, primarily asparagus. Cowhorn has garnered numerous awards and media attention over the years. Most recently, the 2014 Cowhorn Spiral 36 was named to Forbes’ Top 10 Best Wines of 2015, the 2012 Cowhorn Syrah 20 made Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 Editor’s Choice awards, and the winery was highlighted in Sunset Magazine’s “The Best of Wine Country” issue (October 2015). Learn more: www.cowhornwine.com

About Green Hammer 
Green Hammer is a unified design-build firm based in Portland, Oregon, creating healthy and inspiring buildings that are designed for people and built for life. Established in 2002, Green Hammer specializes in transforming buildings where people live, work and play, to improve occupants’ wellbeing and relationship with nature. Founder Stephen Aiguier is a leading green building expert and teacher on net-zero energy and Passive House design principles. The firm has received numerous awards including the 2017 Forest Stewardship Council’s Leadership Award and Earth Advantage Institute’s 2014 LEED-for-Homes Builder of the Year Award.
Learn more: www.greenhammer.com

 

About the International Living Future Institute

The International Living Future Institute is a hub for visionary programs. The Institute offers global strategies for lasting sustainability, partnering with local communities to create grounded and relevant solutions, including green building and infrastructure solutions on scales ranging from single room renovations to neighborhoods or whole cities. The Institute administers the Living Building Challenge, the environment’s most rigorous and ambitious performance standard. It is the parent organization for Cascadia Green Building Council, a chapter of both the United States and Canada Green Building Councils that serves Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. It is also home to Ecotone Publishing, a unique publishing house dedicated to telling the story of the green building movement's pioneering thinkers and practitioners. Learn more: living-future.org

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