Photo courtesy Elemental Energy
Photo courtesy Elemental Energy
In Central Oregon, fall means setting out for a day of learning about how to save energy before the truly cold temps set in. For the 18th year in a row, everyday heroes in Sisters and Bend will open their doors for the Green Tour on Saturday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. so that we can learn and benefit from their energy-saving journeys and experiences.

This year tour-goers will be able to explore both homes and commercial buildings, including zero energy buildings, Accessory Dwelling Units, an energy retrofit of an existing home, an off-grid home, a 1,000 sq. ft. cottage, and a solar farm.

"The residential sites are really diverse with a wide variety of architectural styles and lots of solar! We have a modern home with fun angles and colors, a farmhouse style cottage, and a rustic, off-grid, timber frame home. It really just goes to show that there is a lot more to an efficient home than meets the eye. What you can't see behind the walls is just as important as what you see from the curb," says Lindsey Hardy, Program Director for The Energy Challenge.

Two homes in Sisters will be featured on the Green Tour. Blue Fescue, a cottage at the heart of the planned ClearPine community, showcases how good design can make the most of small spaces. At 1004 square feet, it is the smallest in the cluster of cottages which were a conscious decision to create right-sized homes to meet a need for greater affordability and use less land and building materials. With an Earth Advantage certification, this home will also be at 20% more efficient than a home built to code.

Also in Sisters, tour-goers will be able to explore an off-grid home where beauty meets self-sufficiency and energy efficiency. This timber frame home is built out of SIPs - structurally insulated panels - which make for a well-sealed and insulated shell of the home. This home is fully off-grid which means that they have to store the excess electricity that they produce with their solar panels in order to have access to electricity when the sun goes down or during inclement weather. There is no utility grid for back-up!

Two sites in Bend will host other fun activities for those interested in electrifying their transportation. Tour-goers will have the opportunity to try out an electric bike from Bend Electric Bikes and test drive an all-electric Nissan LEAF.

The Green Tour will kick-off with a keynote address on Thursday evening, September 27 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Worthy Brewing in Bend. Andrew Lee from the International Living Future Institute will help put the Green Tour in perspective by exploring how we can get started on the path to zero-energy buildings. and the triple-bottom-line case for why getting to zero is an opportunity to support a thriving community and economy in Bend.

For full a full schedule and details about all of the tour sites: envirocenter.org/tour.