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Passive-design home takes shape at Lake Chelan

Posted in Construction, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Sustainability on August 15th, 2014 by Susan – Comments Off

Lightly logoSeattle architect Brett Holverstott has updated his blog with photos showing the progress of the passive design house being built on Lake Chelan.

Mike Schramm of Green Gables Construction

Builder Mike Schramm takes a break during construction of the passive-design home on Lake Chelan.

The photos document some of the extra measures being taken to tightly seal the home using extra caulking, tape and dense-pack cellulose insulation. The south-facing home on the lake’s north shore will incorporate super-insulated floors, walls, and roof; air-tight enclosure; high performance windows primarily oriented to the south; and a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) which uses the outgoing air to precondition the incoming air. The home will not need a furnace. A passive home can consume 85 percent less heating/cooling energy than a typical home.

Brothers Mike and Mark Schramm of Green Gables Construction, Chelan, are the builders. The home is owned by Rick and Jacque Hyler of Renton, who will move to it permanently after retirement.

View updates on Holverstott’s blog from July 24 and July 4. Read the original story about Holverstott and the passive design home here.

Sun power on the snowy mountain

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar, Sustainability on August 14th, 2014 by Susan – Comments Off

Lightly logoStevens Pass Mountain Resort is producing power for Chelan PUD’s solar program

When you think of skiing or snowboarding you think snow, right? But at Stevens Pass Mountain Resort they’re thinking sun. As in solar, and solar power.

The resort installed a small solar system at the top of its Skyline Chairlift that should generate electricity most of the year, said John Meriwether, manager of Environmental Sustainability.

Photo of solar system at Stevens pass Moutain Resort

Stevens Pass Mountain Resort has added a solar system along the Skyline Chairlift and expects to churn out sun power up to 10 months of the year.

“In summertime we’re pretty high and exposed to the sun, really for eight, nine, 10 months out of the year,” he said. The eight-panel, 1.9-watt system is on a fixed pole and won’t track with the sun, which in hindsight might have been a better option. “Something I learned (recently) is that we probably should have put it on something that tilted, because January-February-March it’s in the shade. If it tilted toward snow we could possibly have gotten some reflective light.”

The installation was delayed by a year when the Tumwater, Wash. engineering firm hired for the project declared bankruptcy. A Seattle contractor was called in to take over, and the installation was connected to Chelan PUD’s grid on July 10. The resort is now part of the PUD’s customer-based SNAP program.

A $5,000 grant from the National Ski Area Association helped Stevens Pass pay for the project. More solar is planned. “Chairlifts have lift stations that need maintenance and upgrading, and once they come around in our maintenance rotation, we’ll plug a solar component into that,” Meriwether said. Prime south-facing locations include the Double Diamond chairlift and the spot where the  Jupiter and Tyemill lifts come together.

Stevens Pass has won several regional and national environmental honors, including the National Ski Area Association’s Golden Eagle Award for environmental excellence in 2012. The resort has an aggressive sustainability program, Meriwether said, that takes in recycling, composting and energy and water conservation. A facilities audit conducted a few years ago resulted in a road map for the resort to make efficiency improvements “and we’ve been clicking away at those projects,” he said. Upgrades made at its three lodges include insulating doors, adding occupancy sensors for lighting, sealing elevator shafts against heat loss and installing low-flow toilets.

Resort staff also helped bring an electric vehicle charging station to Stevens Pass. A former staff member on that project, Ross Freeman, is now the sustainability manager for the city of Mercer Island, where a “solarize” campaign is under way with Northwest SEED.

April brings Earth Day celebrations

Posted in Climate, Energy conservation, Environment, Recycling, Renewable energy, Sustainability, Water conservation on April 4th, 2014 by Susan – Comments Off

PrintApril is the month for celebrating the earth and our continued stewardship of its resources. Earth Day fairs in Chelan and Leavenworth offer opportunities for everyone, while Entiat’s celebration focuses on its schoolchildren.

Here’s a rundown of the festivities:

Saturday, April 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Riverwalk Park, Chelan: Chelan is celebrating its 25th anniversary of hosting its Earth Day Fair. Find displays about composting, green building, recycling, renewable energy, land conservation, energy conservation, electric vehicles and emergency preparedness. There’s plenty to do and see, including a garden center, flea market, arts and crafts for kids, food booths, music and entertainment. The event is sponsored by the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce, KOZI Radio and Chelan County PUD.

Poster of Leavenworth Earth Day FairSunday, April 27, noon to 4 p.m., Lions Club Park, Leavenworth: The Wenatchee River Institute is sponsoring Leavenworth’s sixth annual Earth Day Fair.  The fair will feature live music, prepared food, a Farmers Market Showcase, health information, displays, hands-on activities and activities for the whole family. Sponsors are Stevens Pass, KOHO Radio, Link Transit and Chelan County PUD. If it rains, the fair will take place at Osborn Elementary School, 225 Central Avenue, Leavenworth. Phone (509) 548-6881 for more fair information.

On Tuesday, April 15,  Entiat Elementary School students will be treated to displays and activities focusing on conservation and sustainability. The 11th annual event is sponsored by the Entiat Valley Community Services group. Chelan PUD will be among the presenters. Contact May Segle for information at (509) 784-7117 or


No furnace? This home won’t need one

Posted in Appliances, Construction, Energy conservation, Environment, Heating and cooling, Sustainability on March 5th, 2014 by Susan – Comments Off

PrintSeattle architect Brett Holverstott is putting the finishing touches on the design of a passive house to be built on the shores of Lake Chelan this year.

The home will be located on the north shore of the lake and will face south, which Holverstott says helps make its an ideal candidate for passive design. A passive house incorporates super-insulated floors, walls, and roof; air-tight enclosure; high performance windows primarily oriented to the south; and a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) which uses the outgoing air to precondition the incoming air.

Sketch of passive-design home

The architect’s sketch of the sustainable, passive house to be built on the north shore of Lake Chelan this summer.

“The combination of these devices, effectively used, produces a house that requires no furnace and almost no ductwork, has fantastic indoor air quality, no annoying drafts, and can be heated with a light bulb,” Holverstott states on his website, A passive home can consume 85 percent less heating/cooling energy than a typical home.

Construction is scheduled to start in late May or June. Brothers Mike and Mark Schramm of Green Gables Construction, Chelan, are the builders.

The home will be 1,150 square feet. The basement/foundation will be buried in the earth. The home will feature a large shed roof that lifts toward the lake view. An entry court between the house and garage will serve as a view deck, providing “a moment of pause” before entering the home, Holverstott said.

The exterior walls will be a foot thick and of double-wall construction, with a 2′ x 6′ wall with structural plywood sheathing on the exterior side, and a 2′ x 4′ wall with the drywall on the interior side. “The resulting cavity can hold a lot of insulation,” Holverstott noted.

Some of the decisions about building materials are still being made, but Holverstott said he would like to use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified lumber and plywood. The insulation in the walls will be densely packed cellulose, a byproduct of newsprint, which contributes to air-tightness. The insulation in the roof cavity will be blown-in fiberglass, because of its lighter weight.

The home is the retirement dream of  Rick and Jacque Hyler of Renton. Rick just retired from Boeing and Jacque is a part-time tutor. It will be their permanent home, not a second home, Holverstott said.

He said the home will be a demonstration of affordable green design.

“The cost of the design is targeting $200,000 including all ‘soft costs’ such as utility hook-up fees, permit fees and architect fees,” he said. “This is a difficult target to reach in today’s dollars, and we have had to reduce the square footage of the house from 1,500 to 1,150.

“The super-insulation and air-tightness of the house are not significant up-charges, on the order of less than 10 percent. But passive-house grade windows are easily two to three times the cost of traditional windows. We have done a lot of research to find the best deal on these windows, which are provided by local and international manufacturers. High ceilings also add to the construction complexity and cost.”

The owners have opted to save some money by bargain hunting and installing interior finishes themselves. But they’re committed to acquiring top-of-the-line energy efficient appliances to contribute to energy savings. They’ll take advantage of Chelan PUD rebates where possible. 

Holverstott established Cambrian Design last year after working on science laboratories, commercial interiors, single and multi-family housing and even a jazz venue. This is his first independent venture.

You can learn more about this project on the Cambrian Design blog.

Get your green going at Alcoa fair

Posted in Climate, Energy conservation, Environment, Sustainability on June 27th, 2013 by Susan – Comments Off

Alcoa Green Fair iconLocal agencies that promote sustainability and work to protect the environment will gather at Alcoa’s Wenatchee Works for a Green Fair on Wednesday, July 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Alcoa is hosting the event in conjunction with the Make an Impact program of The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.  The Center is partnering with member companies Alcoa, Entergy Corporation and Bank of America on the Make an Impact program, which focuses on raising awareness and mobilizing action on climate change in communities throughout the U.S.

Chelan PUD Conservation staff will share information about reducing energy use and saving money on electric bills by weatherizing homes and choosing energy-efficient products. Other agencies attending are Cascade Natural Gas, Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, Chelan-Douglas Community Action, City of Wenatchee, Community Farm Connection, EAT farm-to-school food program, Home Depot (green products), Link Transit, the Washington State Native Plant Society, Wenatchee River Institute and Wenatchee Valley College.

The event is free and open to the public and will include games and giveaways.

Alcoa’s Wenatchee Works is located on the Malaga-Alcoa Highway, about nine miles south of Wenatchee.