Stewardship of resources and a spirit of sustainability are priorities at North Branch. We encourage and help our clients to make design, product and construction decisions that are as “green”...
"We owe it to the fields that our houses will not be the inferiors of the virgin land they have replaced. We owe it to the worms and the trees that the buildings we cover them with will stand as promises of the highest and most intelligent kinds of happiness"
Alain de Botton The Architecture of Happiness

The Green World

Stewardship of resources and a spirit of sustainability are priorities at North Branch. We encourage and help our clients to make design, product and construction decisions that are as “green” as the budget and scope of a project allows. Green Building is the current buzz phrase of our business. Just what “green” means, however, isn't always clear.

One reason we love to remodel:
The greenest homes are those that already exist.

The Old Ways

We believe that truly green building means more than just using a few eco-friendly products, like low-VOC paint and bamboo flooring. We believe it starts with very simple things—as simple as using trees to provide shade. They aren't expensive, reduce energy and water use, and don't require giving up creature comforts. Today we call it “green”; we used to just call it well-built. Five ways to be simply green:

1. Build smaller: A smaller house uses fewer materials and less energy, period; we believe in building smaller houses but designing them better to “live”bigger than they are and be generous in spirit.

2. Design with a sense of place: Return to the wisdom of regional architecture rooted in place. In Central Oregon, for example, it makes simple sense to place windows and design roof overhangs for maximum summer shade, winter solar gain, and good natural light. An abundance of sunny days means it pays to use passive solar to heat domestic water. And we can conserve water in our arid climate with drought-tolerant landscaping.

Builders a thousand or a hundred years ago learned what worked. Think: Anasazi cliff dwellings in the Southwest; yurts on the Central Asian Steppe; or the red brick houses of the American Deep South, with breeze-capturing tall windows and long hallways. Houses are first and foremost shelter from the elements; their design, materials and orientation should be a response to the natural forces around them. Sadly, we often give little thought these days to how a house interacts passively with its environment, seeking to shape rather than be shaped by place.

3. Build things that last: Increase the life-expectancy of homes by raising our standard for quality and our expectations for durability. “Old” for houses in many places around the world means six centuries.

4. Use less: Reduce energy use and operating costs through insulating everything to the maximum and using high-efficiency HVAC, lighting, appliance and window products.

5. Eliminate waste: Use materials in an efficient, non-wasteful way, and recycle or reuse construction waste. All it takes is good planning and a little extra effort.

The New Ways

The simple best practices described above are where we believe green building starts. Where it ends is up to you. You can harvest rainwater from your roof and reuse it to irrigate your lawn. Your countertops can be made of recycled paper. A fir beam from an old barn can be used again in your kitchen. And you can go beyond conserving energy and produce it with photo voltaic systems. The list of green products, practices and technologies is long and growing longer every day. It's exciting. Sometimes overwhelming. But it's the future. In that future are beautiful houses that use less and perform better and keep their occupants healthier and more comfortable. North Branch is ready to journey with you into this brave new green world.
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