Solar Energy Workshops @ Girls Build Camp

This was our 3rd year volunteering with Powerpnw at Girls Build summer camp teaching girls ages 8-14 about solar energy! They practiced wire stripping, wire pulling, rail leveling and solar panel install. It was great to see them problem solve and experience accomplishment in their work. We are hoping to bring a Girls Build camp to the Gorge and/or Pendleton next year so stay tuned for updates!

July Birdhouse Workshops @ Tum-A-Lum Lumber

This month we built birdhouses with kids during our workshops at Tum-A-Lum Lumber in Pendleton and Hood River. All together 40 kids built, stained and took home their own cedar birdhouse! It was our most complex project this year with skill building including layout, measuring, marking, hammering, attaching hooks and chain, and staining with rags. If you were unable to attend the workshop you can download the plans here and build it at home.

Next month we are building toolboxes! You can sign up for the Hood River workshop here and the Pendleton workshop here. Hope to see you soon!

June Art Caddy Workshops @ Tum-A-Lum Lumber

This month we built art caddies with kids during our workshops at Tum-A-Lum Lumber in Pendleton and Hood River. This time Pendleton was first and 28 kids all built, stained or painted, and took home their own art caddy! We had 14 kids build art their own art caddy in Hood River. So great to witness their problem solving and perseverance! If you were unable to attend the workshop you can download the plans here and build it at home.

Next month we are building bird houses! You can sign up for the Hood River workshop here and Pendleton workshop here. See you soon!

June Kids DIY Picket Frame Workshop @ Marson & Marson Lumber

This month we were invited to do a special kids DIY workshop at Marson & Marson Lumber in Leavenworth, Washington! It was pretty exciting as we were part of their Grand Re-Opening event with other vendors and food. Did I say popcorn and shave ice? We had 22 kids come and make picket frames throughout the day and they all enjoyed putting their own special touch on their projects.

We also attended a Ladies Night event which included food, drinks and a scavenger hunt. They sure do know how to throw a party up there! The ladies were also interested in DIY projects so we might start planning some weekend workshops for both women and kids!

May Mason Bee House DIY Workshops @ Tum-A-Lum Lumber

This month we built mason bee houses at Tum-A-Lum Lumber in Hood River and Pendleton! Mason bees are native pollinators that help your plants grow. They generally don't sting and don't live in hives. Instead they are solitary and will live in their own space near other mason bees, kind of like condo living! The kids had lots of practice drilling holes, learning about the importance of a roof and placement options all while building community. If you were unable to attend the workshop you can download the plans here and build it at home. Next month we are building art caddies!

April Picket Frame DIY Workshops @ Tum-A-Lum Lumber

This month we not only offered a kids workshop in partnership with Tum-A-Lum Lumber in Hood River but also kicked off a brand new workshop series in Pendleton! Everyone created their own unique picket frame for Mother's Day. While the variable weather deterred some people from coming out in Hood River, our workshop in the Pendleton warehouse was packed! We will have to get another table built for next time... So heartwarming to feel the appreciation from a community that doesn't have many opportunities like this. And one of the girls told me she wants to be a builder when she grows up! Very inspiring to work with the next generation. If you were unable to attend the workshop you can download the plans here and build it at home. Stay tuned for our workshops in Hood River and Pendleton next month!

March Block Lamp DIY Workshop @ Tum-A-Lum Lumber

We kicked off our 2018 workshops with Tum-A-Lum Lumber with a kids DIY block lamp in Hood River! Everyone learned some basic design guidelines as well as tips and tricks for assembly, then got to work creating their own unique lamps. It was fun to see the creativity flow with no two lamps alike. Some participants even decided to build a removable top cap for their lamps so they can still access the bulb and also to direct the light more out the sides. Pretty cool! Our past projects have mostly offered personalization with paint colors so it was great to offer design personalization with this workshop. If you were unable to attend the workshop you can download the plans here and build it at home. Stay tuned for our workshops in Hood River AND Pendleton next month!

Upcoming Block Lamp Workshop @ Tum-A-Lum Lumber

We are kicking off our 2018 DIY workshops with Tum-A-Lum Lumber next Saturday, March 31st with a block lamp for kids! Once again, this workshop is offered for free and will be held from 9-11am at the Hood River store. Preregistration is required to reserve your space and you can sign up by clicking this link. Can't wait!

Understanding Your Home Energy Report

After we complete your Home Energy Assessment, we enter all of your home's data into an online modeling tool which produces the Home Energy Report. For existing homes the report is 2 pages and for new homes the report is 1 page. In this blog post, we will help you understand how to read your report.

Sample Portland Home Energy Report-v2-171120-page-001.jpg

Page 1

At the top left of the first page, you will see the City of Portland Home Energy Score logo. At the center is the U.S. Department of Energy logo because they developed the scoring system. Your home's score is just below the U.S. DOE logo. At the top right is the your home's estimated annual energy costs. This top bar is a quick reference point to go back to for simple numbers.

Along the left side is a bar which includes the basic details of your home: address, year built, square footage and number of bedrooms. It also includes the assessment date, assessor contact information and the score's expiration date. *Note that the score expires in 8 years but the report expires in 2 years to take into account weather and utility rate changes. You can download a new report within the 8 year period for free from the Green Building Registry. If you make any energy upgrades to your home, you will need a new score regardless of when your existing score expires. And you will want to! Energy upgrades will likely increase your home's score, especially if you choose to make more than one improvement.

The remainder of page 1 includes the Home Energy Score scale, energy use breakdown and carbon footprint scale.

  • The Home Energy Score scale indicates where your home is at today compared to the average reference home scoring a 5. Homes with lower scores are not poorly built, they were likely built at a time before code required insulation and high performing heating systems so they have more room for improvement than today's code built homes. Don't be surprised if your beautiful 1920's home receives a 1!
  • The next section outlines the estimated annual energy use by fuel type; electricity, natural gas and other. These numbers are helpful to homebuyers so they can get an idea of what it will cost to operate their new home. This cost may vary due to occupant behavior just like a car's MPG. It also showcases renewable energy production that will help offset the utility cost.
  • The last section shows where your home is at in regard to its carbon footprint based on estimated energy use. Part of the reason for the Home Energy Score requirement is to help Portland with its climate action goals.
Sample Portland Home Energy Report-v2-171120-page-002.jpg

Page 2

The second page is designed for existing homes because it offers suggestions for improving your score. Home improvements are not required to sell your home but could help increase its value. New homes will not have a second page because they are built to current energy code.

Once again, the top bar is a quick reference point to go back to for simple numbers. It shows your home's score today, score with all improvements, estimated annual energy savings with improvements and percentage of estimated carbon reduction.

The next section is a checklist if you would like to move forward with energy improvements. Congrats on checking off the first step! Enerstructa LLC does not install energy upgrades but can refer you to local contractors. We are also happy to talk with you to narrow down which improvements to choose first and which to do down the road. Financing options for improvements are available as well.

The following section lists the home's features we evaluated during the assessment, their current condition and recommended improvements. Keep in mind that the listed improvements must have a 10 year or less payback time. Other upgrades may improve the home's energy efficiency but are outside of that payback period.

Lastly, if you are a handy person like me, the report lists resources to learn more about how to do it yourself. As an Energy Trust of Oregon Trade Ally and having worked for the Community Energy Project, I highly recommend you check them out!

DIY Home Weatherization Workshop @ Tum-A-Lum Lumber

Today we offered our 5th workshop in partnership with Tum-A-Lum Lumber. This time we discussed materials and methods for weatherizing your home! We talked about DIY air sealing, door weather-stripping and sweeps, insulation types, R-value, building science and more. Participants left with a better understanding of how to increase their home's comport and energy efficiency as well as a coupon good towards their next purchase of weatherization materials from Tum-A-Lum.
home weatherizaion workshop
home weatherization workshop
home weatherization workshop donuts