house plans

Achieving LEED Platinum

When the Rivolis began the homebuilding process, the LEED for Homes program was still evolving from criteria originally intended solely for commercial buildings. The Rivolis had quite a few questions that lacked clearly defined answers, and they found it challenging to navigate the LEED requirements and checklists. A robust program addressing every aspect of a building's envelope, systems, and finishes- LEED for Homes lays out guidelines for building a home that has minimal impact on the environment and is also healthy to live in. Points toward certification are earned in eight categories, making it somewhat adaptable to various building situations.

Utilizing the services of Alan Mascord Design Associates, Inc., and the Mascord Efficient Living program, the job of chipping away at the points needed for certification was made much easier - and in a lucky coincidence, the personal friend of the Rivolis', design director and designer of the Abbott built his own home right next door!

The Rivolis chose to focus most of their efforts on five of the eight categories: energy efficiency, water use, materials and resources, air quality, and building on a sustainable site. Their lot is a typical 50' x 100' Portland lot, facing west. Before beginning construction, they deconstructed an existing 600 square-foot house, recycling most of the materials for use in their new home. The framing and sheeting materials became the forms for the new foundation, and rafters and beams were reincorporated into the structure of the new home. The original fir flooring was re-milled to serve as baseboards and a stairwell. Upon completion of the building, drought-tolerant, native Oregon plants that require no additional watering or special care were planted to make a truly sustainable site.

The building envelope and sustainable systems are key to energy efficiency. The main living areas of the house face south, with a wall of glass to maximize natural daylight. The orientation, combined with four-inch-thick Concrete floors, acts as a heat collection and storage system in the spring and fall. In the summer the windows and floors are protected from the sun by exterior overhangs. The walls are double framed with staggered 2x4 studs, which allows for the incorporation of two layers of R-15 insulation, providing exterior walls with an R-30 rating rather than a more-typical R-21. The long floorplan could be an inefficient layout for a standard storage tank plumbing system, but the Rivolis overcame this obstacle by incorporating a motion sensor-activated recirculation pump, which reduces the energy used to move water around the house and cuts down on wait time for hot water. They also installed dual flush toilets as well as low-flow faucets and showerheads.

Utilizing local and recycled resources that are both healthy and sustainable for the interior finishes tipped the scale to earn the Rivolis' design a Platinum rating.