Archive for the ‘Green Homes’ Category

Portland Green Homes: Earth Advantage Teams up with Passive House

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

The Earth Advantage Institute, a nonprofit green building resource based in Portland, announced yesterday that it joined forces with the U.S. authority on “Passive House” to co-develop an Energy Performance Score labeling system that can be used for certified Passive House buildings. The Portland-based Earth Advantage Institute signed an agreement with Passive House Institute US that joins the two nonprofit organizations as affiliates.

Hailing from architecture hot-beds Germany and Austria, the Passivhaus concept is pretty straightforward: insulate a house so well that it’s airtight, then heat it with a small electric heater or heat exchange pump. The result: potential energy savings of more than 70 percent. “The massive energy savings offered by Passive House certification have attracted significant attention in the Northwest and in other parts of the country,” said Sean Penrith, executive director of the Earth Advantage Institute.

Sound too good to be true? The new wave of home construction requires extremely careful inspection – every screw, window, door, siding segment, and beyond must be completely air tight to make sure the Passivhaus registers no more than 0.6 air changes in an hour (a typical Portland house will register 20-30 changes/hr, while an efficient new Energy Star-compliant home will have around 7).

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Portland Real Estate Insider: Donate a tree this Mothers’ Day!

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Still looking for the perfect gift for your mama this Mothers’ Day? Friends of Trees, a local organization that brings people in the Portland-Vancouver metro area together to plant and care for city trees and green spaces, will plant a young native tree as a special gift for your mom, in exchange for a $35 donation. Or, for a $100 donation, Friends of Trees will plant a grove of six trees in honor of your favorite mother. How cool is that?

Trees are planted in the Collins Sanctuary, adjacent to Forest Park, during one of two annual gift-tree plantings. Moms who receive a tree-planting in their honor are invited to the event and can plant the trees personally – sounds like a perfect way to show your lasting love.

About Friends of Trees: Through their Neighborhood Trees program, homeowners buy discounted trees to plant with their neighbors at weekend plantings. Through their Green Space Initiative, trained crew leaders guide volunteers at weekend events to restore public natural areas and green spaces between freeways and neighborhoods. Since 1989, they have planted more than 395,000 trees and native plants in the Portland area! Friends of Trees is partnering with the city of Portland in its five-year Grey to Green Initiative to transform Portland’s grey infrastructure to green. The initiative’s goal is to plant 33,000 yard trees and 50,000 street trees citywide.

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Portland Real Estate Guide: The Passivhaus movement, big savings or big hassle?

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Check out this article in the Clackamas Review, detailing the Passivhaus movement that is slowly catching on in the Portland Area. Hailing from architecture hot-beds Germany and Austria, the Passivhaus concept is pretty straightforward: “insulate a house so well that it’s airtight, then heat it with a small electric heater or heat exchange pump. The result: potential energy savings of more than 70 percent. As U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., wrote to the recent Passive House Northwest conference, ‘It is incredible to think that you can heat your entire home with as little as a hairdryer!”’

Sound too good to be true? The new wave of home construction requires extremely careful inspection – every screw, window, door, siding segment, and beyond must be completely air tight to make sure the Passivhaus registers no more than 0.6 air changes in an hour (a typical Portland house will register 20-30 changes/hr, while an efficient new Energy Star-compliant home will have around 7).

There are only three passive houses in Portland, but they’re attracting a lot of attention due to their modern design, comfort, and sustainability. In one house, the “walls are about 12 inches thick. The stud cavities are filled with a blown-in fiberglass insulation that eliminates gaps found with typical batt insulation. The exterior wall is wrapped with a three-inch blanket of rigid polyiso insulation. The concrete floor slab is insulated with nine inches of expanded polystyrene insulation, and a vapor barrier helps maintain the airtightness.”

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Portland Real Estate Guide: Garden Fever neighborhood nursery hosts Spring events

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Every summer, Portland gets hit with berry fever – raspberries, blackberries, marionberries, Hood River strawberries, and delicate blueberries take over our gardens, farmers’ markets, and wild green spaces. You can tame the wild berries in your own garden, and with a little help from your neighborhood nurseries, it couldn’t be easier. This month Garden Fever – located at 3433 NE 24th Ave (just south of Fremont) – is selling premium-quality blueberry shrubs with buds, as well as all the tools, soil, compost, and garden accessories you’ll need to get growing in no time. Blueberry harvesting season starts in June, so start now to ensure a great season of berry madness.

Garden Fever also hosts a lecture series of garden experts. Two exciting lectures are coming on April 16th and 17th, just in time for the Spring planting frenzy. On April 16th at 1pm, Anne Marsh will be speaking on “Trees for the Urban Gardener”: “Urban home lots lend themselves to creating ‘garden rooms.’ Trees can be the walls of the room, the ceiling, or a beautiful sculpture in the corner of your garden. Anne’s lecture will inform and inspire your decisions on the perfect tree for your garden room.” On April 17th at 1 pm, Jolly Butler will give a lecture on “Gardening in Small Spaces for Big Effect.” Jolly is a garden columnist, Portland community college instructor, and call-in radio garden show host on KPAM in Portland. Her experience in small garden design will benefit the novice or experienced gardener. Small gardens can be visually impressive and often are easier to work with than large spaces. Jolly will present her methods for creating a stunning garden environment in a small area.

Reservations are required for the lectures. Call 503-287-3200 for more information and to reserve your spot.

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Estacada Real Estate: Public Workshop and Tour Aim to Help Everyone Raise Happy, Healthy Chickens

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Most homes for sale in Portland’s metro area are approved for raising chickens, which means fresh eggs for your family’s breakfast every day, and a bit of the country in the heart of the city. But even if it’s legal, and you like your omelets fresh, you might not have any idea how to raise your own chickens. This Saturday, grab some friends and get a primer on proper care and equipment during the “Chicken Chat” this Saturday, April 2 from noon to 3. The The event takes place at the Wade Creek House, 664 Wade St., Estacada and is $5 for the class and coop tour. For more information www.thewadecreekhouse.com.

You’ll learn all about raising chickens in an urban environment, and get to head out on a tour of local chicken coops to see how people are managing mini-farms in their own backyards. The tour will also take you to local urban farm supply shops to check out different chicken breeds, equipment, coops, food, and other supplies to keep your hens clucking. Best of all, at every stop you’ll have the chance to win peep-worthy prizes.

If you can’t make it this Saturday, the Urban Farm Store in Southeast Portland is a great resource for anyone interested in raising chickens and other livestock in the Portland metro area! They’ve got classes, helpful staff, and great books and resources for urban farmers.

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Portland Events: Trillium Festival and Native Plant Sale at Tryon Creek Park

Monday, March 28th, 2011

It’s time to get those gardens planted, Portland! Celebrate spring and trillium flowers with a garden art show, live music, and children’s activities this Saturday and Sunday at Tryon Creek State Natural Area near the Arnold Creek neighborhood of Southwest Portland. Tryon Creek State Park is a 670-acre forest located on the boundaries of Portland and Lake Oswego, and is the perfect place to herald in spring with the annual Trillium Festival and Native Plant Sale.The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 11321 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd. in Portland.

Trilliums are some of the earliest blooming of our native flowers, a true herald of spring. Mistakenly thought by many to be Oregon’s state flower by virtue of its abundance, the Trillium’s pure, bright white flower held above the triumvirate of bright green leaves is a welcome sight in the woods as well as the woodland garden. The white flower gradually turns to purple as it ages.

Visitors at the Trillium festival can find amazing deals on native plants, and can also take guided hikes, listen to story tellers, check out garden art and other crafts, and fill up on delicious food. The Trillium Festival is a celebration of Oregonian’s love of nature, and a chance to remember the foresight of the state of Oregon to make Tryon Creek  Oregon’s first and only urban state natural area. For more information, visit www.tryonfriends.org.

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Portland Homes Guide: Spruce up your Spring Garden with Lan Su Plant Sale

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

The Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland (239 NW Everett Street) is having its annual spring plant sale 10 a.m.-4 p.m. this Saturday, March 19 – the same day as the opening of the Portland Farmers’ Market, so you can make a whole day of Spring celebrations. Garden members can get early entry into the sale starting at 9 am, and plant lovers will be able to find plants unavailable at typical plant outlets and learn about their specific needs, directly from the growers. The sale brings together about 20 specialized nurseries from the Portland area and focuses on unusual plants, especially those native to China. You’ll find fragrant flowers (edgeworthia, daphne), peonies, bamboo and penjing (bonsai) among the featured plants at this popular event – a perfect way to begin gardening season in Portland. The Lan Su website carries a list of the vendors, which range from the well-known (Joy Creek, One Green World) to the obscure (Bam Bam Bamboo).

To accommodate the profusion of plants, the sale will be held in the parking lot to the north of the garden (between Northwest 2nd and 3rd avenues and Flanders and Glisan streets). Garden art, pottery, bamboo structures, dumplings and refreshments will add to the festivity. Admission to the sale is free and those who purchase plants receive 2-for-1 Garden admission. Proceeds from the sale benefit the ongoing care of Lan Su Garden’s plants.

If you’re interested in checking out some of Portland’s major attractions, consider the Portland Attractions Pass which gives you discounted access to top spots like the Lan Su Chinese Garden, the Oregon History Museum, the Oregon Zoo, Pittock Mansion, the Portland Art Museum, the Portland Children’s Museum, the Portland Japanese Garden, and the World Forestry Center. It’s a really amazing deal, and you’ll know you’re not missing a thing!

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Portland Area Real Estate Insider: Free Rose Pruning Demonstrations this Weekend

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Are you interested in the best ways to raise roses in the Rose City? Volunteers from the Portland Rose Society will demonstrate proper pruning techniques and answer questions about spring gardening this Saturday, March 12. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to noon at Dennis’ Seven Dees Garden Center, 1090 McVey Ave., in Lake Oswego. A similar free event will be taking place in Milwaukie, where Rich Baer from the Portland Rose Garden will present an informative and fun hands-on seminar in the Sara Hite Memorial Rose Garden at noon on Saturday, March 12. (Milwaukie Center, 5440 S.E. Kellogg Creek Drive, Milwaukie; free; www.milwaukiecenter.com or 503-653-8100

If you can’t make it to the event this weekend but are interested in gardening in the Portland area, check out a few of these books from your local library or order them from everyone’s favorite local bookstore, Powell’s:

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Portland Real Estate Green Tips: Free Solar Workshops for Northwest Portland Residents

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Here at the McDonald Group, we talk to a lot of people who would like to add solar energy to their homes but aren’t sure where to start. Next month, Northwest Portland residents interested in renovating their homes with solar technology can learn more about the process with free workshops and question and answer sessions organized by Solarize Northwest, a project formed by the Neighbors West-Northwest Coalition. At the Solarize Northwest workshops, the coalition is able to provide residents with estimates and tips for Portland-area solar installation. The contracted solar supplier will also visit houses of interested residents for free site estimates.  Those interested in taking part in the program must sign up for a site estimate by March 31.

The full schedule of workshops is on the Solarize Northwest website.

Upcoming Workshops:

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Portland Real Estate Insider: City-Wide Composting Pilot Program Working Well

Monday, February 21st, 2011

While individual yard composting is popular in many Portland households and urban gardens, a lot of people do not have the time or space to compost their food and yard waste efficiently. While Portland has one of the highest recycling rates in the nation, most of those leftovers, trimmings, and food scraps go into the trash and into landfills. The city of Portland is working on a way to reduce the amount of garbage homes in Portland produce, and the initial test of the Food Scrap Curbside Collection looks to be a great success. Since the program began last May, the pilot program has picked up food scraps from 2000 homes in selected areas weekly, and reduced garbage in those areas by almost 30%. In fact, almost 30 tons of food scraps were turned into compost! The food scraps from the composting project go to a compost facility in Benton County, Oregon, where it is turned into usable organic fertilizer that helps Oregon soil, blocks weeds, retains water, and prevents plant disease and erosion.

The city of Portland is planning to expand the Portland Composts! program citywide sometime in the next year – once several more facilities in Oregon adopt the processes and equipment needed to handle food scraps. When the new city-wide system starts, homeowners in Portland will be able to compost meats, poultry, seafood, dairy, bread, fruits and vegetables, cheese, eggshells, rice, beans, pasta, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, bones and other plate scrapings! For more information about the Portland food scraps program, call the Curbside Hotline at 503-823-7202, email wasteinfo@portlandoregon.gov, or visit the Portland Online waste reduction website. Composting food scraps helps reduce carbon emissions that cause greenhouse gas and turns it into a valuable agricultural product for healthier soils and gardens – and Oregonians are passionate about green living!

Portland Real estate agents – especially the McDonald Group realtors – are focusing more and more on the potential environmental and cost-saving benefits of the homes they are representing, so if you need tips on how to make the most of your home’s sustainability in order to successfully sell your property, or if you’re looking for a Portland home that has been remodeled for smart energy use and sustainability, contact the McDonald Group Real Estate agents today.

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Portland Real Estate Tips: Installing Rain Collection Barrels Can Save You Money and Save Our Rivers

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Ever looked outside on a rainy day and thought about capturing some of that water to use later? One local business, Portland Purple Water, is hoping to make that idea a widespread reality by installing rainwater collection devices for homes and businesses in Portland. At their most basic, rain barrels are simple rainwater collectors that capture and store a portion of the runoff from a roof downspout. Stored water can be used for non-potable purposes such as irrigating lawns, washing cars, or flushing toilets. Harvesting rainwater can lower your water bill, save energy and reduce demand on Portland’s drinking water systems.

Curious about how to get a rain barrel installed in your home? If you’re super handy, you can build your own rain barrel (You don’t need any permits to use collected rainwater outside the house!), otherwise, professionals can get you set up in no time. Rainwater collection has the potential to be a huge project in Oregon – a 1,000 square foot house catches 26,000 gallons of water in Portland – that’s water that could be used in a lot of ways! By capturing rainwater in a rain barrel or a rain garden, water-savers can make the city of Portland function more like a natural area where rain is a source of clean water and not a vehicle for transferring fertilizers and chemicals to our rivers and watersheds.

Interested in finding out where the water from your home property goes when it heads down the gutters? Check out the Oregon Environmental Council’s new site loveyourriver.org, type in the ZIP code of your home, business, or apartment and  you’ll find a page dedicated to the watershed and river that receives what you release from your property. We here at the McDonald Group realtors love our rivers, and we’re all in favor of green renovations that help keep the Pacific Northwest beautiful.

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Portland Real Estate Guide: 2011 Tour of Remodeled Homes Gives Inspiration and Ideas

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

We love this event! The Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland has announced the 2011 Tour of Remodeled Homes, an annual event that will tour 15 projects from innovative historic home remodels, vintage bungalow rejuvenations and a mid-century modern ranch. The show is March 12-13, and tickets are only $17.50. Sign up today to get great ideas for your own home, and you might be inspired to start searching the Portland Real Estate market for your next fixer-upper!

Interested in buying a remodeled home in Portland? The home tour will showcase Porland area homes for every budget and lifestyle. The National Home Builders Association estimates that Americans spent $216 billion in home remodeling in 2008. Remodeling accounts for 2 percent of the US economy and 40 percent of all residential construction! Best of all, Portland is an international leader in sustainable and green renovation, with more alternative energy upgrades and innovative, money-saving tools and techniques being developed every year. More interested in new construction in Portland? The Ultimate Open House Tour of New Homes event might be more your style, where Tom Liesy of TA Liesy Homes NW will be showcasing many of his amazing homes. Either event is bound to get you excited about the Portland home market – we know we are!

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Gresham Real Estate Insider: Energy Trust of Oregon Offers FREE Home Evaluations

Friday, February 4th, 2011

If you live in Gresham, you’re eligibly for a FREE in-home water and energy evaluation. The city of Gresham is teaming up with Energy Trust of Oregon (who Gresham water customers are eligible for a free in-home water and energy assessment, thanks to the city and the Energy Trust of Oregon. Scheduling a free two-hour review of your home’s energy and water use from Energy Trust of Oregon can drastically cut down on your utility bills and save natural resources – up to 60 percent of energy used to heat and cool homes can be lost due to leaky ducts, inefficient equipment, poor insulation and air leaks, problems you may not know you have.

The free assessments are limited to Gresham residents who live in single-family homes, have a Gresham residential water account and heat their homes using Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural or Cascade Natural Gas. To schedule an assessment, call the Energy Trust of Oregon at 866-368-7878.

Even when Portland is hit by a few weeks of rain and it seems like water will never run out, water shortages are projected to hit 36 states by 2013 – do your part now to make sure we’ve got plenty of water later! Oregon residential consumption has dropped almost 20% in the last decade, from an average of 85 gallons per person per day between 1988 and 1992 to 64 gallons per person per day in 2007. We can do even better.

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Portland Real Estate Guide: The City of Portland May Be Increasing Tree Protection

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

The Portland Real Estate market is known for it’s tree-lined streets and green neighborhoods, but what many people do not know is that those trees have little official protection. The City of Portland is working on a proposal for new tree protection standards, and the plan is getting near unanimous support from homebuilders, environmentalists, residents, and city officials. The Portland City Council plan, known as the Citywide Tree Project, would protect and increase the number of trees in Portland, which has a great effect on the safety, health, and beauty of the city. For many homeowners, the biggest and most notable change is this: removing a tree greater than 20 inches in diameter from private property would require a permit, followed by a tree replanting or payment to the city toward replanting efforts.

The city is aware of the challenges for new construction and development, and has provided exceptions for certain kinds of projects, but is overall convinced that new construction in Portland does not have to come at the expense of our valuable natural resources. Many other towns in the Portland area have similar tree protection standards. The city of Lake Oswego requires permits to cut down most trees 5 inches in diameter or larger, and Happy Valley requires a permit to trim trees, even on private property.

Officials have been working on the Portland Citywide Tree Project since 2007, and if the plan is approved in March, implementation is expected to begin in 2013. The city hopes the new code will help Portland add 100 acres per year to its existing tree canopy of about 23,600 acres, and the long-term goal is to increase the tree canopy by nearly 6,500 acres — an area larger than Forest Park!

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Portland Real Estate Guide: Portland International Auto Show Goes Green

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

This year’s Portland International Auto Show – now in its 102nd year – is set to herald in 2011 as the year of the green car. Located in the Oregon Convention center, the Auto Show is four days (January 27th to 30th) of cutting-edge developments in the auto industry. This year, those developments will be heralded at the Eco Center featuring 30,000 square feet of green innovation. Electric and hybrid-electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and General Motors Volt will be entering the American car market this year, and Oregon has been set up to be one the the leaders in green vehicle infrastructure. 2010 was rich with news of new recharging stations throughout the Portland metro area – the gas stations of the future.

The green cars featured in the Eco Center will not be the traditional “concept car” – every model is in production now and will be available for sale. This fun event will allow Oregonians to check out the next wave of green vehicles, including electric, hybrid, clean-diesel and other alternative-fuel vehicles from Arcimoto, Chevrolet, Columbia International, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Smart, Tesla, Toyota and others. There’ll also be examples of electric-vehicle charging stations, including a model of the new home charging systems. It’s the perfect place to get a feel

This year’s Portland International Auto Show – now in its 102nd year – is set to herald in 2011 as the year of the green car. Located in the Oregon Convention center, the Auto Show is four days (January 27th to 30th) of cutting-edge developments in the auto industry. This year, those developments will be heralded at the Eco Center featuring 30,000 square feet of green innovation. Electric and hybrid-electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and General Motors Volt will be entering the American car market this year, and Oregon has been set up to be one the the leaders in green vehicle infrastructure. 2010 was rich with news of new recharging stations throughout the Portland metro area – the gas stations of the future.

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Portland Real Estate Insider: MAX Lightrail Ridership Up in 2010

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

One of the most talked about features of the Portland Real Estate market is how close most homes for sale in Portland are to public transportation. Here at the McDonald Group Portland Real Estate blog, we’re often getting inquiries about the future of Portland and Oregon’s transportation system, and we’ve been tracking the growth of ridership and new construction of transit lines, including developments in Portland-area suburban commuter support. In a report out this week, Portland public transit agency TriMet showed increased ridership for 2010 – up more than six percent from 2009. Public transportation in the Portland metropolitan area has grown to over 1.74 million total trips per week. The contributing factors to this growth in rider numbers are varied, including the convenience of Portland’s transit system, desire to decrease carbon footprints, reduce time spent in rush-hour traffic, and save money by cutting down on personal car use.

The numbers are expected to grow even more in the coming years, as construction on the Milwaukie light rail project is slated to start this summer. The upcoming MAX project includes a proposed transit bridge crossing the Willamette river that would carry MAX light rail trains, buses and the future eastside loop of the Portland streetcar, as well as two 14-foot bike and pedestrian paths. The 7.3-mile Portland-Milwaukie light rail project, the region’s sixth MAX line, will go from Portland State University through the south waterfront, into Southeast Portland, to Milwaukie and north Clackamas County. If you’re interested in homes for sale in Milwaukie near present and future public transportation like the MAX light-rail system, contact the McDonald Group Realtors to find out how you can cut down on your commute and get connected to the amazing dining, shopping, and entertainment opportunities via the MAX light-rail and streetcar systems. Portland is the perfect place to live a car-free lifestyle, with many amenities, incentives, and resources for cutting down on car-time and gaining an appreciation of the city of Portland!

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Portland Real Estate Insider: New Foot Bridge Planned between South Waterfront and Lair Hill

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Portland’s South Waterfront Neighborhood is about to get a bit more pedestrian and bike friendly.Work has started on a new bridge over Interstate 5 that will connect South Portland’s Lair Hill neighborhood to the up-and-coming South Waterfront district. The pedestrian bridge, called the “Gibbs Street Bridge” will run under the popular OHSU Aerial Tram, from the intersection of Southwest Gibbs St. and Kelly Ave. on the east side to the intersection of Southwest Gibbs St. and Moody Ave. on the west. Portland Real Estate is increasingly bike friendly, with many homes for sale in Portland within easy walking or biking distance to neighborhood resources like restaurants, grocery stores, and public services like libraries.

Lair Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods in South Portland were among the first areas to start the “neighborhood revolution” in the 1960′s. Community members in the neighborhood banded together to prevent destruction of historical buildings, trees, and landmarks under the Portland urban renewal project, and this spirit is alive in the development of the new bridge. The fight against neighborhood destruction resulted in the creation of the first protected historical district in Portland and one of the first neighborhood coalitions, followed by the development of many neighborhood home owner groups and the official designation of the neighborhood government system in the City of Portland. The bridge project is the fulfillment of an agreement with the Lair Hill neighborhood association – when the tram was put in, the neighborhood was ensured foot access to the burgeoning waterfront. The bridge should be completed in January 2012, and was designed with an access area on that side with a long, winding stairway and an elevator that is big enough to hold bicycles with kids’ trailers attached.

About the South Waterfront: Oregon’s first fully-green neighborhood, Portland’s South Waterfront, is also the largest green development in the country. Innovative energy saving and water conservation techniques like LEED certified buildings and the bios wale filtration support the entire neighborhood and minimizes its impact on the environment. Buildings are made from sustainable materials, use solar panels, and have been designed with a “permeability” concept. In order not to block any of the wonderful views downtown Portland has to offer, buildings are designed to be thinner and to not occupy an entire block, while still building with the same amount of square footage. The South Waterfront neighborhood is accessible by the Portland Streetcar that runs from Northwest Portland and the Pearl District through Downtown and Portland State University, an aerial tram, Tri-met bus routes, and a possible Max route in the future.

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Portland Realtor Insider: Portland City Government Supports Oregon Plastic Bag Ban

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Portland Bag BanThe Metro Council, the government agency that makes land-use decisions for the Portland area, voted today to pass a resolution in support of the statewide ban on plastic bags in retail stores. Similar bag bans have passed in San Francisco and China, but Oregon may be the first state in the US to officially ban plastic bags. Many stores in Portland – including retail giant Fred Meyer (the original Oregon superstore chain that combines a complete grocery supermarket with a drugstore, clothing store, shoe store, fine jewelers, home decor store, home improvement center, garden center, electronics store, toy store, sporting goods store and more under one roof) – have already eliminated plastic bags from their check-out lanes. Even the farmers’ market, one place you might expect their to be resistance to the bag ban due to the need for plastic bags for bulk veggies, has already replaced the standard veggie bag with compostable, recycled-material bags. Metro councilor Rex Burkholder said in a statement regarding the resolution, “Plastic bags cause tough litter problems in our neighborhoods, significant issues at recycling facilities, and lethal harm to wildlife.”

Plastic bags show up along, and in, every river in Oregon, according to Travis Williams, a Willamette Riverkeeper. They show up in the riparian zones, and floating along in the water. They cause problems for Wildlife, and when they get to the Ocean, they contribute to a huge problem of plastics showing up in massive areas. Passage of the bag ban could serve as a great wakeup call for people to think about how they use resources every day. If this becomes law, it may well lead to a decrease in paper use if retailers seek to educate folks at the checkout stand, and encourage the purchase and re-use of cloth bags. The new resolution will be discussed on a statewide level during the next state legislative session, which begins on Monday. Reusable bags are cheap, readily available and should be the only thing we haul groceries home in.

Here on the McDonald Group Real Estate Blog, we’re often talking about Green home improvements, sustainable homes for sale in Portland, and the rise of eco-building in the Portland Real Estate market in general, and its exciting to think of Oregon as a leader in such green movements. If you’re interested in buying or selling a green home in Portland, contact the McDonald Group Relators today – we can make the most of the upturn in interest in Green certification and sustainable homes by helping you get what you want. Schedule an appointment today!

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Portland Realtor Guide: Oregonians Can Now “Go Solar” for as little as $20 a month!

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Thanks to new regulations that took effect on New Year’s Day, Oregonians can now take advantage of lease offers from contractors to install solar panels and eliminate upfront costs. The Portland branch of SolarCity, a major national solar company providing residential solar panels, announced a lease program today that will allow Portland area homeowners and residents of the entire state of Oregon to install alternative-energy solar panels for low monthly payments. This new lease program allows homeowners to enjoy the energy-bill slashing qualities of solar instantly, rather than waiting for the payoff on the initial investment to kick in after a few years. If you’re buying a home in Portland, renovating a historic home, selling your home and looking for ways to make it competitive in the Portland real estate market, or just looking for ways to update your home and reduce your carbon footprint, this new deal is definitely worth a second look.

Oregon homeowners can now go solar for as little as $20 a month with no money down, thanks to the new contractor offers and state and federal tax credits, with no hidden costs. This means you can cut your total energy costs instantly, with money in your pocket, all while going green, How awesome is that?!

Customers of Portland General Electric and Pacific Power are eligible for the lease arrangement. In addition to the reduction of installation costs, new solar customers can also claim tax credits or apply for pilot programs that could pay a premium for energy they generate and consume. If you’re interested in installing solar panels on your home, just visit SolarCity’s website and enter your address, upload a photo of your home, and get quotes over the internet. You can also get more information at any Home Depot in Oregon. Under SolarCity’s program, the company guarantees a certain level of power generation from an installed system, promising to compensate the customers if panels underperform. If you end up selling your home in Portland, you can transfer their contracts to buyers. It seems like a great system overall.

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Portland Real Estate Insider: Trees Add Monetary Value to Homes for Sale in Portland

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Everyone loves a home with mature, beautiful trees, but how much value does greenery add to homes for sale? As covered in a recent article published in Nursery Magazine, new research from the Pacific Northwest Research Station determined specific dollar values for neighborhood trees in Portland. This is great news for those of us that treasure the trees and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest, resources that can often be placed second to new construction and development. The main factors considered in determining these dollar values were “environmental and social amenities” including cleaner air, moderated storm runoff, reduction of environmental CO2, elevated property values, reduced heating and cooling costs, and improved human health. Similar studies in New York City determined that the five boroughs’ 600,000 street trees provide a financial benefit of $122 million a year, which totals more than five times the cost of maintaining them, but the Portland housing study is one of the first to look at the value of street trees on the Portland real estate market.

Across the board in Portland Neighborhoods, you can easily see a general correlation between trees and homes – bigger trees tend to be in higher valued neighborhoods. The researchers at the Pacific Northwest Research Station used actual house price sales to determine the monetary value of trees. They determined that trees added measurable value to homes for sale in Portland, just like a third bedroom or extra square-footage. On average, street trees add $8,870 to the price of homes for sale, the equivalent of 129 extra finished square feet. What’s more, street trees decreased the time on the market of homes for sale in Portland by nearly two days, and one single tree can raise the value of multiple houses. Overall, Portland’s trees have an added real estate value of $1.1 billion dollars! As part of Portland’s 5-year Grey to Green initiative, the city plans to plant 33,000 yard trees and 50,000 street trees by July 2013. Included in the Grey to Green budget is the Treebate program, which provides a utility-bill credit to homeowners who plant trees in their yards. Trees can further save money by reducing energy bills. Yard trees add shade and lowering air conditioning costs in the summer, and provide protection from the wind, lowering heating costs in the winter.

Earlier this year, CNN featured an interesting study done by the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest and Southern Research Stations in the Portland area that found that areas with larger, taller, well-maintained trees had less neighborhood theft and overall crime than areas with smaller trees. It turns out that tall trees “can reduce crime by signaling to a potential criminal that a neighborhood is better cared for and, therefore, a criminal is more likely to be caught…Large yard trees also were associated with lower crime rates, most likely because they are less view-obstructing than smaller trees.” All of this is great news for people who love nature, and anyone who loves the beautiful city of Portland. All of the tree-related research findings help convince taxpayers and property owners that cities have a legitimate public interest in cultivating and protecting their trees.

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Portland Real Estate Guide: Tips for Cutting Down on Winter Utility Bills

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

For most people in Portland, the coldest months mean higher utility bills, but there are steps you can take to prevent your energy and heating costs from skyrocketing this winter. In this age of high-end sustainable renovations, high-profile LEED certifications, and the seemingly never-ending marketing of the next popular Energy Star kitchen or home appliance, it sometimes feels like you need to spend a lot of money in order to cut back on energy use and save money. However, like many things in life, small changes can add up to a big difference, and some of the most important adjustments you can make in your home are downright cheap – leading to big savings this winter.

If you’re thinking of buying a new home, or are looking for ways to improve your home to make it more attractive on the Portland Real Estate market, energy-friendly changes can make a big difference, especially because they can result in direct savings on your winter utility bills. The Portland Real Estate market is filled with new construction homes that often come with great insulation and energy-saving appliances, but a lot of people are living in fixer-uppers and classic historical Portland homes that could use a bit of help in the cooler months.

- On sunny days, open draperies and blinds to let in the sun’s warmth. Close them at night to insulate against cold air outside.

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Portland Real Estate Guide: Biking Numbers Continue to Rise in Portland

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Believe it or not, many bicyclists in Portland braved the icy roads and snowy bridges today to commute to work across town. Many pride themselves in toughing out the worst winter weather on two wheels, and though that kind of devotion might be seen only amongst the heartiest of bikers, new numbers released by the Portland Bureau of Transportation show that biking numbers have continued to rise through 2010. In the Portland Bicycle Count Report for 2010 (click for PDF) the transportation bureau gives interesting details about the Portland biking community,  counting bicycle trips at various locations throughout the city as it has since the early 1990′s. 2010 saw a 12 percent increase of bicycle traffic on bridges and a 7 percent increase in bicycle trips on Portland streets over the past year. Southwest Portland had the highest increase in number of cyclists, with an increase of 19 percent.

It’s clear that growing ridership is a sign of the city’s efforts to make Portland a safer and more accessible place to ride. In the past 10 years, bicycle traffic across the city has risen about 190 percent. Another cool fact, bicyclists represent approximately 14 percent of all vehicles crossing Portland’s bridges! Most homes for sale in Portland have access to bike-friendly trails and commutes along streets with designated bike lanes or “sharrows” – arrows designating paths safest for bikes and encouraging car drivers to share the road. If you’re thinking of moving to Portland, you should consider the fact that it’s entirely feasible to live a car-free lifestyle in this amazing city. The city of Portland is renowned as one of the best biking cities in the world, and we’re in favor of the trend continuing in years to come.

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Portland Real Estate Insider: Portlanders Get Green With Rain Gardens and More

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

We’re not going to lie, Portland can be a rainy city. This time of year, the weather gets serious, but in the true creative spirit of Portland, residents are taking the meteorological lemons and turning them into lemonade. There are many ways to harness the rainwater so common to the Pacific Northwest, saving residents money, resources, and the environment along the way. Rain gardens – garden areas set up to catch rainfall coming off of roofs – are a creative utilization of the Portland weather, easing the burden on the Portland storm-water and sewer systems, and can lead to savings on utility bills. Installing Rain Gardens and other forms of rain water capture leads to discounts in the Storm Water Management portion of your water and sewer bill! Portland was one of the first American cities to attempt to reward and educate residents about storm-water management.

Many options are available to manage storm water on residential properties, and Portland offers technical advice and generous subsidies to curious residents. Options include:

• Disconnecting roof downspouts, allowing storm water to run across lawns and gardens. (Soil is typically more porous on the east side of town than the clay-filled soil common on the west side. Given this, Portland offers financial incentives for disconnecting down spouts only on the east side of the river, roughly between 42nd Avenue and 82nd Avenue. Homeowners and renters there can receive $53 for each downspout they disconnect.)

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Portland Real Etate Insider: Projected Portland Bike Path and Park Get the Go Ahead

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Bike Portland Real EstateWhat’s more Portland than combining biking and sustainability? Last week the Portland City Council took the next step towards realizing the Gateway Green project – a new Portland Parks and Recreation project to create a new bike park and recreation area in east Portland, including an ongoing annual grant of almost $200,000. Located near the intersection of Interstate 205 and Interstate 84, the Gateway Green project will develop land owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation. The project still depends on the aquisition of private and public shareholders, but the city’s support is an important initial step for the creation of the outer Northeast Portland bike haven.

The Gateway Green project is set to include trails for bicycles and recreational walkers and joggers, a fun biking skills area with jumps (like a skate-park), downhill mountain bike trails, and a natural children’s area and playground. What’s even cooler, the park will serve as a learning spot for city organizations to educate residents about sustainable practices, including alternative-power lighting and sustainable storm-water runoff landscaping. The project is scheduled to be completed in late 2013 or early 2014. Future park improvements may include bike bridges over the interstates and connections to Portland’s other bike trails.

The Gateway Green project would join the many bike-friendly resources in Portland, including innumerable bike shops, repair services, bike commuter organizations, bike festivals, and City support of bike lanes and fully-fledged bike streets. The city is becoming a model of sustainable transportation, from the bike community’s ongoing efforts to educate residents about the ease and accessibility of people-powered transportation and the projected Streetcar loop that is slated to get a lot of people out of their cars and into sustainable forms of exploring the city.

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Pearl District Real Estate Insider: Streets in the Pearl Reopen With New Direction

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Portland’s neighborhood system is known for its enclaves of walkable retail areas, centered around restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and boutiques, and some of the most successful areas are popular because of the ease of access via public transportation and bike. The Pearl District, Nob Hill, Hollywood, Hawthorne, Clinton, and Belmont districts are all walkable and accessible for all Portland residents, thanks to our amazing transportation systems. One of the most popular modes of transportation for residents and visitors alike is the Portland Streetcar, launched in 2001. In the almost ten years since the opening of the Streetcar lines, ever area serviced by the Streetcar loop has boomed in popularity.

A study in 2008 found that Portland’s light rail and Streetcar system generated $3.5 billion in investments and resulted in over 10,210 housing units around the streetcar line. The boom in Portland Real Estate, economic growth, and neighborhood cohesiveness can be traced to the maximization of transit funding and ingenuity.

Several streets in Portland’s Northwest Pearl District that have been closed for almost two months for new construction of tracks for the Portland Streetcar Loop Project are being reopened today. Some of these formerly two-way streets will now be one-way streets, allowing for the new Streetcar passage and smooth commuter flow. If you’re looking for homes or condos for sale in the Pearl District real estate market, be sure to pay attention to this new traffic flow – we wouldn’t want anyone getting stuck while on a tour for new homes in the area! The good news is that these changes facilitate a 3.3 mile extension of the existing Portland streetcar system, which will eventually connect major commercial and entertainment centers on the Eastside to the existing westside Portland loop.

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