"Goal Net Zero Neighborhood"
The following is a conversation between Markus Stoffel, who will be presenting the Feb. 28 Goal Net Zero Interest Group workshop, and Kathy Bash, Solar Oregon Board Member and GNZ committee member. To learn even more about Markus this amazing process, plan on attending the workshop.
KB: How did the neighborhood interest in sustainable energy start?
MS: It’s a long story. The first seeds were sown around 2003. It began with a Net Zero Building conference at Skamania Lodge that was organized by Christopher Dymond and Charlie Stephens, who were with ODOE at the time and I had the chance to attend.
At the same time the first major incentives for solar photovoltaics (PV) became available from Energy Trust of Oregon and we were the first home to have PV installed in our neighborhood. A direct result of the Net Zero conference was the now famous Rose House, which was built in 2004 and is considered to be the first Goal Net Zero house in Portland. It was built 2 blocks from our home.
Then in 2005, a large lot with a neglected home came on the market and the fear in the neighborhood was that a developer would come in and build ordinary snout houses. I was part of a group that was interested in green building development and we ended up purchasing the property and subdividing it. While we developed plans and had potential buyers for the homes, we ultimately decided to sell the undeveloped properties. Two of the buyers decided to purchase our plans with some modifications. A third property was developed with a modern design, but they all became green and energy-efficient buildings.
Up the street two more green homes were built by friends and relatives of existing neighbors. Also around 2005 the idea of the Ainsworth Street Collective was conceived by our neighbor Lisa Gambee, which resulted in a neighborhood network of various activities, sharing and monthly gatherings. It was through this network that the idea of comparing energy notes came about.
KB: How many homes are involved?
MS: Currently we have data from seven homes, but we hope to add more.
KB: Did you have informational meetings to generate interest?
MS: We had some presentations in the past, but a lot more could and should be done. For example we would like to find out if some of our neighbors have opted for the City’s Clean Energy Works program. Others have made performance improvements to their homes.
KB: How often do you meet? - is there an agenda for each meeting? - or is it more social?
MS: We have had a few meetings, but not for a while. After we came up with our first comparison for the July 2009 – June 2010 period, I’m sure some of us went home and made some adjustments. It will be interesting to review a second year of data.
KB: Did you set goals?
MS: No particular goals were set, except to keep monitoring and compare. Through the network of the collective there are frequent opportunities to meet. That’s when we usually learn of new developments.
KB: How are you tracking your progress?
MS: Through continued recoding of energy consumption. We plan to compare on a semi-annual basis.
KB: Have there been any surprises? (good or bad)
MS: I don’t think there were any major surprises, but there were some interesting angles.
KB: Are you considering food and transportation as well as household energy use?
MS: Food and transportation is not part of the evaluation at this time. Many residents grow some of their own food and commute either via bicycle, Prius or public transportation. The collective is very interested in developing opportunities for local access to food and work. Two homes in the study collect rainwater for domestic water use.
KB Note: Markus has developed a spreadsheet tool to assist in data collection and comparison. He will demonstrate and discuss this in more depth at the Feb. 28 workshop. Click here to register .