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Founded in 1979, Solar Oregon is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit membership organization providing public education and community outreach to encourage Oregonians to choose solar energy.
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Green and Solar Tour 2006

Green and Solar Tour 2006

Once again the 2006 Oregon Green and Solar Home Tours were a great success with statewide attendance at over 3,000 people (up from 2,500 in 2005) that visited 117 green and solar sites in 14 communities around the State.  Most of the tours experienced increased tour attendance than in years past, and participants expressed a greater interest in installing a solar system after attending their local tour.  The exception however was in the more rural communities of Eastern and Southern Oregon that reported greatly reduced attendance of 50-75% as compared to previous years.

This year three new tours were added including West Linn, Newberg, and Newport.  All reported great success measured in either attendance or increased interest and new solar projects for 2007.  Next year we hope to add at least one more tour – Baker City in Eastern Oregon.

2006 is also the first year that Solar Oregon - formerly Solar Energy Association of Oregon (SEAO) – served as the Statewide Tour Coordinator for the Oregon Green and Solar Home Tours.  The Local Leads, Oregon Department of Energy, and 3E Strategies have all reported that Solar Oregon’s role in the Tours this year was very helpful, and greatly facilitated communication between Tour communities and media attention to the Tours.  There is still a lot of planning that needs to be done to make the Statewide Tour Coordination more efficient and work more smoothly.

A few great highlights shared by the Local Leads include:

  • Hood River:  Regional and Statewide PR efforts really helped get the word out and draw more diverse crowds to the Tours.  There were people attending tours in several regions of Oregon, some that traveled from neighboring states such as Idaho.

  • Newberg:  For a new tour Newberg had great attendance over 2 days at approx 100 attendees.  Approximately 40-50% of their participants heard about the Newberg tour from the Northwest Solar Expo.  The Energy Trust and Oregon Department of Energy websites were the next highest draw.

  • Newport:  The Lincoln County Sustainability Summit, Green and Solar Tour, and Solar Oregon workshop series in combination have inspired at least 4 new solar projects (and very likely more) including at least one high profile solar project that will serve as an educational opportunity for the entire county.  Lincoln County will also soon have certified solar installers to serve the community.

  • Grants Pass:  Participants expressed definite interest in installing solar, and were attending the Tour to help them make a final decision about going solar.  Bob Maynard with Energy Outfitters said he had twice as many attendees at his house than in years past.

Thank you to all the volunteers, home and business owners, Local Leads, 3EStrategies, Energy Trust of Oregon and Iris Group PR, Oregon Department of Energy, and the American Solar Energy Society for all your efforts that helped make the 2006 Oregon Green and Solar Home Tours a huge success!

Following is a list of all the 2006 tours that occurred.

Portland: Build It Green Home Tour & Information Fair

Date:  Saturday, September 16, 11am – 5pm

Location:  Self guided Tour and free Information Fair at Environmental Building Supplies

Registration:  $15 per Adult, $10 Adults with no car, $10 students & seniors

Free for children under 14

Attendance:  approx 1300

Number Buildings:  23 (20 residential, 3 commercial)

Tour Description

Twenty homes in the Portland Metro area demonstrate the latest in green and solar building practices from creative use of environmentally friendly materials to rainwater harvesting, biodiesel production, and photovoltaics. Homeowners, builders and architects greet tour goers with expert advice on the design and construction of a healthy, comfortable 'green' home.

A post-tour reception and Information Fair will be held from 5-8 PM at Environmental Building Supplies, 819 SE Taylor, in Portland. Contractors, designers, non-profit organizations, and product/service vendors will be on hand to talk about their projects and answer questions about process, materials, costs successes and challenges.

Tour Results

Susan Anderson, Director of the City of Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development, sent a letter reporting the success of the 2006 Build It Green Home Tour in which she stated, “the tour and information fair were a rousing success and attended by nearly 1,300 people to include volunteers, green businesses, city representatives, tour-goers, homeowners, volunteers and community activists.  This passionate, civic-minded group of people continues to create momentum, excitement and action around green building in our city.”  This is the second year that the Build It Green Home Tour has sold out completely, and the Office of Sustainable Development has received lots of great feedback regarding the tour including the following comments:  “Learned a good deal on our first tour!”; “My mom now wants to incorporate green building in her classroom in Wyoming – so this tour will be far-reaching!”; and “Very well organized tour . . . great brochure!”

Corvallis:  Garden and Solar Tour

Date:  Sunday, September 17

Location:  Self guided tour, including homes, one commercial site, and a presentation site

Registration:  $7 in advance, $9 Tour day – purchase tickets at first tour stop, Volunteer 2 hours & registration is free

Attendance:  310 tickets

Number Buildings:  6 (at least 5 residential, 1 retail - local, organic grocery store)

Tour Results

They did two tours organized jointly by two groups: NW Earth Institute and Solar Creek.  NWEI did a tour that combined several home garden tours, some of which included solar.  The Solar Creek tour primarily consisted of solar residential sites plus one commercial site, and a display for a solar system designed by high school students.  Informative presentations about solar in Oregon were also held hourly at a local deli.

Klamath Falls:

Date:  Saturday, September 30, 9:00am

Location:  Meet at Klamath County Government Center, 305 Main Street, Klamath Falls

Registration:  Free

Contact:  (541) 883-8410

Attendance:  10-15 people

Number Buildings:  2 commercial

Tour Results

Scott McMahon from the Klamath Falls Solar Association reported that this year the tour had the smallest turnout compared to years past.  The tour began with 15 people and by the end there were 10 people left to enjoy the great barbeque that followed.  Klamath Falls normally has appproximately 30-40 people that attend the tour and barbeque.


Date:  Saturday, September 30, 10:00am - 2:00pm.

Doors open at 9:00am; pre-tour lecture 9:30am; tour 10:30am.

Location:  Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB), 500 East 4th Ave.

Registration:  $5.00 per person, sold only at the door.  No advance sales.  Parking is free at EWEB.

Attendance:  Approx 200

Number Buildings:  8 (6 residential, 2 commercial)

Workshop Attendance:  Over 100

Tour Description

The day begins with a presentation at EWEB at 10:00am followed by the tour immediately afterwards.  Please note transportation is provided, or you may take a self-guided tour.  Maps will be provided to paid participants.  Homes and businesses on the tour will demonstrate green, sustainable, and solar design features.  Homeowners, builders and designers will be available to discuss the environmentally-friendly homes.

Tour Results

Emily Evans reported  that both the workshop and tour were a huge success.  The pre-tour workshop attracted over 100 people, the room was completely packed to capacity and beyond.  Emily credits the workshop’s success to a new speaker she found (Rudy Berg, local designer & president of the S.W Oregon Chapter of the NW EcoBuilding Guild) who brought new life to the workshop and attracted the large crowd.  They learned many lessons this year that will help the Eugene tour grow and run more smoothly next year.  2006 is also the first year that the Eugene tour was sponsored by community businesses, they were successful in raising enough funds to pay for all tour materials plus Emily Evans excellent tour coordination efforts.  Emily said, “We had a lot of great comments about the tour.  The tourists appreciated seeing ‘normal’ homes – real homes for real people!”

Some lessons learned from the Eugene tour in 2006:

  • Set firm tour dates from beginning – so can get correct info to websites and magazine.  Also include ending time for tour on all promotional tours to avoid receiving calls to attend the tour after it ends.

  • Set up a fiscal agent – the Eugene tour is not run by an organization or non profit, and had no way to deal with sponsor money, expenses, etc.  Solar Oregon took care of fiscal needs in 2006, although it would be better to handle fiscal needs in Eugene.  Eugene would welcome ideas on how to do this.

  • Tour volunteer handbook – would like a volunteer handbook outlining specific volunteer duties, this could be given to volunteer coordinators.

  • Schedule lunch a break or arrange for food to be provided in vans for tour attendees.

  • More vans – not enough transportation provided by the Eugene Tour, the are considering working with local churches in 2007 to help solve this problem.

  • More Sponsors – Could have found more sponsors if they had been more aggressive with advertising.

  • Include more remodeled homes – received comments that attendees would like to see remodeled home examples, Emily is currently looking for remodeled homes.

John Day:
Date: Saturday, October 7
Location: Grant County Fairgrounds followed by guided Tour

Attendance:  3

Number Buildings:  4 residential

Pre-Tour Workshops:  1, “It’s the Architecture, Stupid!”  Very well received.

Workshop Attendance:  3

Tour Description

Homes on the John Day Solar Tour have solar electric and/or hot water systems and/or sustainable design features such as passive solar. At least one remote, stand-alone off-grid solar electric system will be included.

Tour begins at the Grant County Fairgrounds with a 1-hour introductory class on renewable energy, followed by a guided tour of homes and businesses in the urban/rural area.  Participants should bring a lunch and dress for the weather.

Tour results

John Day experienced a lower than normal turnout, yet despite lower attendance the Passive Solar and Energy Efficient Building workshop, “It’s the Architecture Stupid!” was well received by all (three) participants, and Jennifer enjoyed giving the new workshop presentation.  Jennifer commented, “What struck me most about the tour:  All it takes is the electric utility lowering rates twice in a 12-month period, and people seem to completely forget about solar and energy efficiency (except the ones that are already converted, they keep calling and wanting solar NOW).  I can’t figure any other reason for our low turnout.”


Date: Saturday, October 7

Times: 9-11 am for the workshop and 11am – 4pm for the self-guided tour of homes in the Roseburg area.

Location of morning workshop is the Campus Center of Umpqua Community College, 1140 Umpqua College Rd, Roseburg OR 97470

Registration: $15. To register by October 1, call UCC at (541) 440-7744. Ask to register for CRN 20797.

Attendance:  Approx 24 at any one home

Number Buildings:  11 residential

Pre-Tour Workshops:  1, Solar Technologies and Incentives

Workshop Attendance:  65

Post-Tour Workshops: 1, Home Energy workshop

Workshop Attendance:  30

Tour Description

In the morning, a workshop at Umpqua Community College will overview technologies, contractors and incentives, and introduce the self-guided tour of homes that afternoon.

The afternoon is the tour of homes in urban, suburban and rural settings in the Roseburg area. An information packet for the afternoon tour will be available offering instructions about the route, and a summary of solar/green features to discuss with home owners. An in depth workshop may be developed after Oct. 7 on the how-to's.

Tour results

The Roseburg tour featured an attractive mix of homes, features, and stages of innovation, which was a good representation of communities throughout the county.  The tour got good front page coverage in The News-Review the week prior.  A fellow member of the local Writers’ Club managed and sent out press releases this year, which paid off in tour attendance.  They were pleased to offer the Green + Solar Building Oregon magazine.  This year attendees were more interested in the how to’s of green and solar homes, more likely to talk to each other since many people made great connections and networked at the tours.  Al Walker facilitated a Home Energy workshop on October 11th at Umatilla Community College, which received 30 registrants.

Bend/ Redmond/ Central Oregon:

Date:  Saturday, October 7th & 8th, 10am to 4pm

Location:  Bend, Redmond, Sisters and Crooked River Ranch.

Registration:  $10 per car.  Bicyclists go for free!

Attendance:  Over 600 tickets – approx 3000 home visits

Number Buildings: 26 homes

Interest from around the region:  Portland, Northern California, Eugene, Corvallis, Eastern Oregon, Tri-Cities and Walla Walla in Washington.

Pre-tour workshops:  2 (An Overview on Green Building, Focus on Energy)

Workshop attendance:  60

Tour Description

Approximately 20 green and solar homes will be available for your inspection. Highlights include passive solar systems, grid-tied and off-grid solar, strawbale, rastrablock, ICF and SIPS wall systems, and many other features. In addition, we will be holding a Green Building and Renewable Energy Fair both days as part of the Bend Fall Festival.  Sponsored By: 3EStrategies, the Bend Bulletin, Northwest Crossing, Cascade Business News

Tour Results

In the weeks leading up to Tour, they held two pre-tour workshops including:  An Overview on Green Building, and Focus on Energy that looked at passive and active solar.  The home owners were very pleased by the tour.  The tour organizers, homeowners, and volunteers that helped in previous years all agreed that there was a much more knowledgeable audience in 2006 than in past years.  3EStrategies received calls regarding the Tour from all over Oregon and the Region including:  Portland, Northern California, Eugene, Corvallis, Eastern Oregon, Tri-Cities area, and Walla Walla.

Hood River:  Enviro-House Tour

Date:  Saturday, October 7, 10am to 4pm

Location:  Gorge Rebuild-it Center (995 Tucker Rd on the Heights in Hood River,

Cost:  $15 per car, tickets available the day of the Tour

Attendance:  250

Number Buildings: 10 (8 residential, 1 mix use, 1 commercial)

Tour Description

The 5th annual Columbia Gorge Enviro-House Tour will be better than ever this year. With more and more homeowners committing themselves to reduce their impact on the environment, we are seeing exciting new eco-remodels, ultra efficient new homes, alternative energy systems, zero net energy homes, straw-bale and earthen buildings, and fun new uses for recycled, salvaged, and non-toxic materials. This tour features homes in the central Columbia Gorge area of both Oregon and Washington, including (but not limited to) the towns of Hood River, Parkdale, Mosier, White Salmon, Underwood, Lyle, and Husum.

Tour Results

The Enviro-House Tour was very well attended in the Central Columbia Gorge area.  Local Lead Tara Johnston felt that Solar Oregon’s efforts to coordinate the Tours and Regional and Statewide PR really helped get the word out and draw more diverse crowds to the Tours.  There were people attending tours in several regions around Oregon, and some that traveled from neighboring states such as Idaho because their state does not have the resources or events to see and discuss green and solar homes.

A Sustainable Fair was held at the beginning of the day at the ReBuildit Center while participants picked up their tour tickets.  The Fair had mixed success, on the one hand they had good attendance due to timing it in conjunction with ticket sales, yet at the same time most tour attendees were eager to head out to the tour rather than staying for a bit at the Fair to learn more.

Newport:  Lincoln County Solar Tour

Date:  Sunday, October 8

Location:  Lincoln City, public parking lot on corner Hwy 101 and NW 17th Street

Attendance:  10

Number Buildings:  3 (2 residential, 1 commercial)

Tour Description

With the help of the Solar Oregon and in association with the ASES National Solar Tour, the Lincoln County Sustainability Coalition will host the first ever Lincoln County Solar Tour. It is expected to be a fun interactive way to learn about solar systems and see how habitat restoration is done first hand. The Lincoln County Solar Tour will be kicked off by a Sustainability Summit on October 6 & 7th, check out the Lincoln Sustainability Coalition's website for more details.

The tour will begin in Lincoln City, meeting in the large public parking lot on the corner of Highway 101 and NW 17th Street (Maxwell's Restaurant is on the corner and the Bijou Theatre is across the street). Tour attendees will see a house equipped with a grid-tied 18 panel 1500 Watt PV array with a dual axis tracking system, a cabin completely off the grid, and a restaurant using solar panels and other sustainable practices. After lunch featuring food from our local farms, we will tour 2-4 habitat stream restoration projects at various stages of development.

Tour Results

Despite the low attendance for this new tour in Lincoln County there are some great results that will be springing up in 2007.  The combination of the Lincoln County Sustainability Summit and Solar Tour, plus Solar Oregon’s How to Buy a Solar Electric (PV) System workshop that followed on October 28th inspired have inspired at least 4 new solar projects (and very likely more) including at least one high profile solar project that will serve as an educational opportunity for the entire county.  Lincoln County will also soon have certified solar installers to serve the community.

West Linn:  Solar & Sustainable Tour

Date:  Saturday, October 7th, 11am to 4pm

Location:  Self Guided, additional info TBD

Organizers:  West Linn Sustainable Task Force

Contact:  Glenn Friedman, (503) 699-1363

Attendance:  Approx 60

Number Buildings:  3 residential

Pre-Tour Workshops:  2 (Green Building Practices for Homes, Solar Incentives Seminar)

Tour Description

The tour and seminars will take place on Saturday, Oct. 7. Sign in for the day opens at 10am. The seminars will start the day at 10:30am at West Linn’s City Hall and will feature speakers from the City of Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development and The Energy Trust of Oregon. Starting the day at 10:30 am Mike O’Brien, Green Building Specialist for the Office of Sustainable Development, will discuss Green Building Practices for homes.  At 11:15 am Kacia Brockman, Solar Programs Manager for the Energy Trust, will present their Solar Incentives Seminar.

The Green/Solar Home Tour will follow the seminars and start at 12:30pm. The local tour is part of the American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Buildings Tour and will include several local West Linn homes that utilize solar hot water systems, green building techniques, passive solar design, daylighting, grid connected solar electric (PV) systems and rainwater collection. The tour is free and maps of the homes can be picked up at the sign in table between 10 am-12:30pm.

Tour Results

For West Linn’s first green and solar home tour, the West Linn Sustainable Task Force was able to produce a great turnout with approximately 60 people attending the workshops and the tour afterwards.  Much of this success was due to advertising and spreading the word at the Build It Green Tour and the Northwest Solar Expo, and the Statewide media efforts coordinated by Iris Group PR and Solar Oregon.

Newberg/Chehalem Mountain:  Green & Solar Home Tour

Date:  Saturday & Sunday, October 7th & 8th, 10am to 5pm

Location:  Abundant Renewable Energy, 22700 NE Mountain Top Road, Newberg, OR  97123

Registration:  Free, pre-registration is recommended

Attendance:  Approx 100

Number Buildings:  4 (3 residential and 1 commercial)

Workshops (45 min):  2 (Wind Energy Basics, Green Building)

Talks (15 min):  4 (Solar Electric, Solar Hot Water, Net Metering, Energy Efficiency)

Workshop & Talks Attendance:  Approx 100 combined total

Special Groups:  Class Physic students from a local college, business group visiting from the Ukraine.

Tour Description

Abundant Renewable Energy will be providing optional 45 & 15 minute talks, on the hour, covering; wind, solar energy basics, solar hot water, green building, net metering, and energy conservation. Information will also be available on how to choose a solar dealer and installer. The workshops will be followed by an open house tour of green & solar homes. Additional speakers will be found at each location. The Newberg Chehalem Mountain tour will begin at 10:00 AM at Abundant Renewable Energy, where maps and information on other homes in the tour will be provided.

Tour Results

The first Newberg Chehalem Mountain Solar, Wind and Green Home Tour was a success!  There were over 100 participants at the lead home, and around 20 to 30 at the other homes.  Approximately 40-50% of the attendees were drawn to the tour after hearing about it at the Northwest Solar Expo.  The next largest draw was from the Oregon Green and Solar home tour dates listed at the Oregon Department of Energy and Energy Trust of Oregon websites, which was managed by Solar Oregon’s Statewide Tour Coordination efforts.

Strategies that worked well for this tour include:

  • Optional pre-registration:  helped get a feel for expected attendance and quantities needed for refreshments.  Also allowed coordination with a class of students in order to even out attendance and encourage carpooling.

  • Mixed Renewable Energy Education:  helpful in drawing a larger audience, and presented an opportunity to expose the public to more than one renewable energy source, while providing a more in depth education on renewable energy in the home.  Though different, the various speakers all complemented the information presented by the other speakers.

  • Advertising at Local Events:  Distributing flyers and spreading the word at the Northwest Solar Expo accounted for approximately 40-50% of attendees.  The Oregon Department of Energy and Energy Trust of Oregon websites also drew many people to the tour.


Date:  Saturday, October 14, 9:00 am

Location:  Ashland Civic Center, 1175 East Main Street

Registration: $ 5 at - Participation is limited to 100.

Attendance:  100

Number Buildings: 7 (4 residential, 1 mix use, 2 City of Ashland sites)

Tour Description

Find out how solar energy can be used to power and heat your home, and how homes can be more energy efficient, healthier and better for the environment. Participants will visit homes with solar and wind electric, solar hot water, solar space heat, rainwater harvest and storage and water conservation systems, increased energy efficiency, healthier indoor air, and reduced environmental impacts. Learn about current technologies, and financial incentive programs to implement them. The tour will begin at 9:00 AM at the Ashland Civic Center 1175 East Main St., and travel by buses to four homes with a bring-your-own lunch stop along the way.

October is Energy Awareness Month. The Ashland tour is one of hundreds of events planned throughout the state and across the country to raise awareness about energy conservation and clean, renewable energy. The City of Ashland and Home Power Magazine sponsor the tour.

Tour Results

According to Local Lead Larry Giardina, this year the Ashland tour had the best examples of homes as compared to years past.  Each tour site had either the homeowner, solar installer, or home designer onsite to do a presentation orienting attendees to the green and solar features of the home.  The tour was once again a huge success, and filled to capacity at 100 attendees.

Grants Pass:

Date:  Saturday, October 14, 8am – 4pm

Location:  Self guided, tour maps will be available in the Josephine County Homebuilders Association’s booth at the Josephine County Fairgrounds.

Registration:  Free

Attendance:  Approx 35

Number Buildings:  6 residential – Carston home has been nominated for the National Green Homes Award.

Tour Description

The Grants Pass Tour is being held in conjunction with the Josephine County's Fall Tour of Homes. The tour will feature solar electricity, solar pool heating, and geothermal heating/cooling. All homes are grid connected and the homeowners will be present to answer questions.

Tour Results

The tour was certainly a success in Grants Pass considering it is a difficult area to promote and generate interest in green homes and renewable energy.  Local Leads Chris Houghton and Kirpal Khalsa said they are very happy with the turnout, and attendees were definitely more interested in installing solar after attending the tour.  Two of the homes on the tour have low or no bills, the Carston home’s lowest bill so far has been $4.00 per month and another home regularly achieves $10 credit per month.

La Grande:

Date:  Sunday, October 15, 10:00 am

Location:  Tour begins at 105 Fir, La Grande

Registration:   Free; Donations welcome to Oregon Rural Action:  a 501(c)3 non profit organization promoting renewable energy.

Attendance:  3

Number Buildings:  4 residential

Post Tour Discussion Attendance:  2

Tour Description

The La Grande Tour will include homes in La Grande, Cove, Elgin, and Summerville, and will include solar hot water, photovoltaic, passive solar, wind energy, and geothermal heat pump. Following the tour, will be a meeting with questions answered by some of the homeowners and an Oregon Rural Action Representative. Discussion will include installation of renewable systems, working with utilities on installation, building sustainably, and working to gain community support for renewables.

Tour results

The tour this year had very low attendance, yet Oregon Rural Action and Local Lead Chuck Koch are planning to do more advertising to get the word out farther in 2007.  There is also a possibility of encouraging a new Eastern Oregon tour in the Baker City area with the help of Oregon Rural Action.  Solar Oregon plans to help facilitate this new tour through its Statewide Tour Coordination efforts.

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