Green Portland: A Design & Remodeling Blog

Presented by Green Design & Remodeling to increase knowledge about home design and remodeling

Landscape architects, remodelers team up to ensure the outside is as beautiful as the inside March 19, 2014

Landscape architects, remodelers team up to ensure the outside is as beautiful as the inside.


Building it Green November 24, 2008

I read a good article this morning about sustainable building practices for new homes. They mention some great tips, but don’t mention the “greener” aproach of not building, and remodeling instead. You can incorporate all the things they reccomend for a new building in your existing home. It will make your house more energy effiecent, healthier, and keep from building on undisturbed land. I can’t stress this enough–it is better for everyone if you improve the home you are in rather then building something new.

Rebuilding an older home

Rebuilding an older home


Remodeling Now Can Save You Money Later November 20, 2008

I have two thoughts on why you remodeling now is a good idea. First it can save you money in energy costs. An Atlanta paper wrote an interesting article about how clients have saved money in the long run by spending some money up front.

Another good reason to remodel right now is that home improvement retail is suffering, as reported by Forbes. This could mean that you can find really fantastic deals, and perhaps save thousands of dollars on your remodel.

Green & Milligan Kitchen Remodel

Green & Milligan Kitchen Remodel


McMansion Overload & the Need for Sustainable Spaces November 12, 2008

I was just reading an article about how when the dust settles in the houseing market that new homes will NOT be of the McMansion style. You can catch the article here.

One of the big reasons for this is their large energy cost. Another reason, as stated here, is that they take up so much land. Why this is bad? Well, the larger a residential home is the more resources it is taking to build it: no matter how “Green” it is or isn’t. Also, the land that it is taking up could be used for more sustainable gardening, or natural plants to help out with the displaced wildlife.

However, there is still a desire, if not a need for more space. I think most people have two or three options; if you own a McMansion OR you are thinking of purchasing one, do whatever you can to make it more energy efficient.

Most of these homes have numerous gables on them, which can be fitted for solar panels. Here is a link to a solar panel retailer, where you can learn more about solar panels. Another way of cutting energy cost is to create “zones” in the house for heating and cooling.  This is a popular product that was shown to me when I worked at a large Design/Build firm here in Portland, most contractors can get you hooked up with a good system. This will help keep you from heating rooms with 14′ ceilings when you are never in them. The last, but best thing to do, is make sure you have no heating leaks in the house, see link, and to make sure your house is well “winterized.” This goes for any home.

If you don’t want the hassle of owning one of these giants, but still need more space, why not add an addition to your home. I think this is the most sustainable way of increasing living space–other then doing nothing.  Almost all homes can have more space added to them, and it can be done in a sustainable way. It is also a good excuse to update your heating system, replace old windows, and check the insulation.

My only concern when it comes to additions is that when it is all done and said, it does not look like an addition. If the new section of the housing looks completely different from the original house, then likely it will get redone down the road, and that is NOT sustainable design. So please! work with a designer or architect to design an addition that fits the existing property.

The third and final option I have for you: call a designer to work with what you have. Get organized, remodel the basement or attic, and/or rearrange how you “flow” through the house. By “flow” I mean, maybe you should consider knocking out a few walls to create bigger spaces, or a master suite. All depends on what you need the extra space for.

If you have more questions, please comment, or contact us at Green & Milligan Design


5 Tips for Sustainable Design October 28, 2008

How to Easily Incorporate Being Green into Your Next Project

Sustainable design is in concert with the planet. When we feel good in our spaces, work and home, we are more productive, healthier and happier. It sounds hippie-dippie, but spending time in a beautiful, sustainably designed and built space is more than saving the planet; it is saving and expanding our “quality of life.”

Being green doesn’t have to be difficult. Every decision in a design project can have a green answer. Every choice can have the overlay of,  “Is it environmentally friendly/green = does it work with nature rather than against it?  Is it sustainable = does it meet my present needs without ruining my grandchildren’s chances to meet their needs?”

You might be asking:
How can I be sustainable, find the resources, make the choices?
Who works with sustainable materials?”
How can I do this without being overwhelmed?

Here are 5 simple questions to ask about being environmentally friendly and building sustainably:

1. Where do I find the most sustainable materials? There are more and more retail stores, websites and magazines devoted to sustainable and green materials.  Individual materials’ websites and product information can tell you a lot about them:  Just like the grocery store, check the “label”.  Ask questions like,  “Is the product made from rapidly renewable resources or is the material I choose depleting a natural source?”   “Is it made from recycled or innovative material?”  “Is the wood reclaimed or from a managed forest?”

2. Will my choices use less energy over time? Insulation, that keeps heat in and cold out, makes your life more comfortable and helps use less energy winter and summer. There is non-itchy insulation – blown in cellulose (newspaper) and shredded jeans (denim) material!  Daylight where you want it (slanting in from the south in the winter and shaded by leafy, deciduous plants or sun screens in the summer) through a double-paned, gas filled window allows us to light space naturally and also keep the heat in and the cold out.  Add skylights and the impact is increased.   Compact fluorescent bulbs may cost a little more to buy, but they last much, much longer and now can provide a light closer to the “warm” light of an incandescent light bulb.

3. Where do my materials come from? If they are grown, created, produced, manufactured or built within 500 miles of where you live, then you are using  “local”, supporting your communities and using less energy (usually fossil fuel) to get them to your home or work. It takes asking a question or reading a label to find out the information and use sustainable materials.

4. Is the product environmentally safe? Ask for paint that is “low or no VOC” It’s the VOCs that make that “new paint smell” and emit Volatile Organic Compounds. Know that you don’t have to be breathing those chemicals and neither do your children.  The quality of No-VOC paint has increased and almost every major brand offers one in all colors.  It’s an easy choice to make – just tell your painter that you want a No or Low-VOC paint.

5. Do my choices meet the old mantra – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? – It holds true in sustainable design.  Reduce the impact on the planet by choosing materials wisely – ask for sustainable products.  Reuse, by choosing products like Metro Paint (100% recycled paint – it is not Low-VOC, but it has been produced by mixing useable left-over paint in color batches – paint that would have gone into the landfill.)  Recycle materials you are no longer using by donating them to organizations like The Rebuilding Center and waste from your project by making sure that it is separated and disposed of correctly.  Each city has regulations for recycling metal and wood, separately from garbage.

I am including a short list to get you started on your sustainable way – it’s easy and it feels good:

I want to be like Portland….. the Office of Sustainable Development

Used/recycled building materials

New building materials – Environmental Building Supplies

Natural cotton fiber insulation

Build It Green (California) – information (cellulose insulation)

Cork products

Alternative countertops

Sustainably forested wood

Interface carpet tiles

Wood products and woodworking

Metro Paint

If you have any questions, please contact us:

Thanks, Karla