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I believe this house was also on last year's Street of Eames tour. It is a shame they won't be featuring all new homes this year...


Brian, a few thoughts:

first, "Gyp Board" isn't what makes a white box look. that would be the stucco or metal or other material on top of the exterior sheathing. gypsum board usually refers to interior finishes - just a technical clarification.

second, not to take away from this nice design or achievment, but to add to the discussion on LEED, this other project is also a stand alone (skinny) house and is Platinum, not sure which came "first":


finally, can a single family home in the woods really be "sustainable"? i understand it is smaller than a "mcmansion", but it's still pretty luxurious for just one family. i know this is a common complaint between the mainstream and the fringe of the green movement, but i think this might be a real case where it would have been more responsible to do nothing on the site.

just my three cents. nice house though.


I'm pretty sure that's not Forest Park they abut, but rather property owned by Three Rivers Land Conservancy and know as the "Keller Woodlands"; its part of a larger area recently labeled the "Terwilliger Wildlands".

Michael with Loewen

To clarify, when the Emerick's built this home LEED did not offer a platinum classification for residences, thus gold was the highest achieveable status at the time.

the real Jon

Brian Libby, um really? "Love Shack" I know the DJ is good, but come on now...

So, I would have liked to see the Emericks break out a bit more in this design, be a little more edgy and take larger risks. They had an opportunity to step out, experiment and try something different! It is a simple house, with a simple plan, and really simple elevation.

With that said, I think it is a really amazing site and they did a really good job of respecting what was there. I wish they would have used a "green" element that could have been immediately visible to the causal observer such as a green roof, wind, or solar strategy. It is a great showcase home for the Emericks to be very proud of. The onsite Alders and Maples create a great backdrop, and bravo on the LEED Gold... I am pretty sure Platinum has been around many years, and LEED for Homes is a really new program.


It is a lovely house, but by the second picture you posted, it looks a little like it could have been designed for another site altogether.


Especially for the level of natural light we have in the Northwest, that's a good design; big windows divided into individual panes that are themselves, large. To me that keeps them more interesting than a single big picture window such as the Pittock Mansion has for its main view window.

The accordion doors used in the bedroom seem like a great idea; open them for cross-lighting and better ventilation. Also, a practical way to be able to make a larger space when one is needed.


This illustrates the sillyness of LEED. The home is not even slightly sustainable , look at all them shiny new [huge] appliances , light fixtures , etc. There are centuries of wasted embodied energy in every part of this building. Unless they believe it will be a 400 year home accessed by horses, they will consume huge amounts of oil every day they live and drive here in their yuppy woods.
Sustainable would be to restore an existing home in close-in NW [soon SE] on the streetcar , where the kids can walk to school and the library.[and mom/dad can walk to the pub]


how do you build a house with 100% wind power? Do they have wind powered bulldozers and trucks now?


you buy green energy credits.

Brian Emerick

Brian, nice article that was a fun surprise.

A couple of responses to some of the comments: The home is embedded in the Three Rivers Land Conservancy property, not Forest Park. It's truly wilderness out the back door and City out the front- I bike to work, the kids walk to school and Food Front Co-Op is our neighborhood grocery store. This is one of the truly beautiful things about Portland- you can have both without being a 'Petro-Palace'.

Regarding all the LEED hype, it's true that some of it's easy to lampoon and it's by no means perfect- I love the imagery of bulldozers with sails! That said, it's the industry standard that's most commonly used, and there is much that is good about it. I particularly like the unique feature in the LEED for Homes that takes into account the size of the residence relative to the median average home, then penalizes for those which exceed it. This is the equalizer that helps ensure a monster house cannot meet the green standard. LEED for Homes also takes into account the proximity of the site to schools and public transit and as rewards for building on infill sites, which address another concern raised. Finally, and perhaps most important, the project is monitored through construction and tested for performance benchmarks at the end by an independent third party which holds everyone accountable.

In closing, the property was designated by the City for single family housing. Our goal was to show respect for the site by building a home that transcends style and lasts for generations. We believe this is the highest measure of sustainability. The LEED stuff is embedded technology, that helps us meet these goals, but is not the real story. We spent a lot of time on proportions, materials, detailing and tailoring the home to the site. Like all architecture, it's really the spatial experience that counts and that's always hard to comprehend in pictures.

F Rodo

This house is gorgeous. I saw it on the SOE tour. It's not "hidden in the woods"--it's part of an existing neighborhood, but it abuts the edge of the woods. There is very little need for artificial light. The windows are large but seemed to conduct no heat at all (I admit: the palm prints are mine). Yes it uses a lot more land than a skinny house or a condo, and measured by carbon consumption it is probably not ideal, but it is a work of art and much more energy efficient than my old drafty house. If I had the money and my house fell down, I'd have it rebuilt by these people.

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