G. Christianson Construction is proud to have won two Earth Advantage Builder of the Year awards, which recognize achievements in sustainable & energy efficient construction practices: Lowest EPS® Score & Zero Energy!

As an Earth Advantage builder, G. Christianson Construction entered the first PHIUS certified passive house in Corvallis, Oregon. We completed this passive house in 2016, incorporating a variety of systems & materials to create superior energy efficiency and indoor air quality, as well as being environmentally responsible.

This custom home was built to use 70% less energy than a code built home per the world’s most rigorous Passive House standard. It achieves this by very limited infiltration, thermal bridge free construction techniques, super insulation, and heat recovery ventilation. Its 12” thick walls boast an R-value of 51.8, obtained with 2” of cork insulation over BIBS wall insulation. The 32” thick roof has an R-value of 102.4, while the 17” thick floor has an R-value of 63.9. High efficiency doors and triple paned windows, contribute to its energy efficiency. It also has 8.25 kW solar panels, Energy Star appliances, and natural daylighting to keep its energy bills low. A typical Oregon home of a similar size built to code would have a carbon footprint between 19.1 to 20.6 tons of carbon dioxide per yr.; this home has a carbon footprint of 4.0 tons per year before the solar array, which brings it down to 0 tons of carbon monoxide. The home was computer modeled to make sure it met PHIUS energy requirements. By adding solar panels on the garage this home is Net-Zero energy usage.

Indoor air quality has a huge role in overall health. Where possible, this home has eco-friendly building materials that off-gas fewer harmful chemicals. Its ventilation system not only prevents heat loss, but also reduces airborne contaminates, reducing the chances of health risks like allergies, asthma, and more serious health detriments.

During the construction of this home the landscape was taken into consideration as well. Practices to promote healthy landscapes were implemented. Erosion was minimized by use of straw and minimizing vegetation clearing and deforestation. The landscaping uses many native species and avoids the use of invasive species.

This home’s materials were chosen with the environment in mind. Where possible, locally sourced materials were chosen. All the materials chosen are durable and high quality, to last a lifetime, if not generations.

Water conservation was also addressed in this house. It has metal roofs and gutters plumbed for rain water catchment, Nebia low flow shower heads, and a weather dependent irrigation controller to reduce household water consumption without sacrificing comfort.

In addition to its environmental efficiency, this gorgeous home boasts grey quartz countertops atop white and blue painted shaker cabinetry, dark stainless steel appliances, and a subway tile backsplash in the kitchen. Elegant white walls bathed in natural sunlight accentuate the hickory flooring throughout, with a wood inlay feature to add a nautical flair to the transition from the kitchen to the family room. The sleek bathroom has a seamless tile shower with mosaic accents and modern vanity with clean lines. The reading nook under the stairs in the family room is a cozy spot to curl up with a book. Expansive views greet you through every tilt & swing triple paned window.

Designed with “Not So Big House” principals to be effortlessly comfortable using minimal energy, with exquisite finishes and details, this home is a beautiful and cozy retreat from the bustle of everyday life.

 

G. Christianson Construction recently completed the first passive house in Corvallis!

This beautiful Contemporary Craftsman style custom passive house has a carbon footprint 1/5 that of a typically built house in Oregon of a similar size. Its 12″ thick walls with cork insulation, high efficiency windows & doors, solar panels, heat pump hot water, Energy Star appliances, air intake unit, and natural daylighting keep its utility bills low.

In addition, this gorgeous home boasts grey quartz countertops atop white and blue painted shaker cabinetry, black stainless steel appliances, and a subway tile backsplash in the kitchen. Elegant white walls bathed in natural sunlight accentuate the hickory flooring throughout, with a wood inlay feature to add interest in the transition from the kitchen to the family room. The sleek bathroom has a seamless tile shower with mosaic accents and modern vanity with clean lines. The reading nook under the stairs in the family room is a cozy spot to curl up with a book. Expansive views greet you through every tilt & swing triple paned window.

Designed to be effortlessly comfortable using minimal energy, with exquisite finishes  and details, this home is a beautiful and cozy retreat from the bustle of everyday life.

 

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Building with sustainability has been at the heart of G. Christianson Construction’s motto for 30 years. Founder, Greg Christianson, passed his passion for the environment on to his son, Carl, who took over his father’s business in 2014. Out of Greg’s appreciation for nature and the planet, he restored six acres of his personal property back to native species, and he built a company that builds energy efficiency into every project.  When it came time for Carl to make a nest for his young family, he chose to build a new home to Passive House standards, and in the process became the first builder in Corvallis to be certified by the Passive House Institute.

Building “green” is a scale that the consumer can decide where they fall on. On one end of the spectrum, installing LED lights over incandescent lights saves energy and waste. On the other side, building Earthships out of 100% recycled materials takes nothing more than has already been produced from the planet. The G. Christianson approach is somewhere in between the two. In building Passive houses, our craftsmen build an extremely air-tight home with a focus on clean air circulation. This means, proper and secure window and door installations, where heating energy does not leak out. This also means building a strong frame and the absence of gaps in the structure. It may raise the question, “Aren’t all houses built alike?” The simple answer is, “No.” A house that pops up in a quick time frame is not going to have the same quality craftsmanship as a house that takes nine to twelve months to build.

The Passive building approach was born out of a desire “to create structures that are durable, resilient, comfortable, healthy, and super energy efficient” [www.phius.org/about/mission-history]. Passive Houses are built in accordance these five building-science principles*:

  • It employs continuous insulation through its entire envelope without any thermal bridging.
  • The building envelope is extremely airtight, preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air.
  • It employs high-performance windows (typically triple-paned) and doors
  • It uses some form of balanced heat- and moisture-recovery ventilation and uses a minimal space conditioning system.
  • Solar gain is managed to exploit the sun’s energy for heating purposes and to minimize it in cooling seasons.

* http://www.phius.org/what-is-passive-building-/the-principles

Admittedly, the construction industry is slow to initiate change from the status-quo. The consumer should be aware of material and product selections when seeking a cleaner living space. Choose materials like Marmoleum that are made of recycled materials and installed with very low to no-VOC adhesives. Ultimately, businesses provide what the consumer demands. We can all stand to take a more serious look at the future of our planet and ask ourselves, “What are we choosing to invest in,” and “How is that product affecting my health and my family’s wellness?” At G. Christianson Construction, we aren’t striving to build the biggest mansion on the block. Rather, we believe that building small and sustainable is the smarter, eco-conscious solution.

Two members of the G. Christianson Construction team are PHIUS Certified Builders, and another member of our team is a certified Sustainable Home Professional (SHP). For consultations on an energy-efficient home remodel, or inquiries into building a new home, please call our office to set up an appointment.

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To see Passive Houses near you, visit: https://passivehouse-international.org/index.php?page_id=262

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Progress Continues at the Passive House on Hawkeye Ave.

We have some great news: The G. Christianson Passive House is now PHIUS+ 2015 Pre-Certified, and PHIUS+ Source Zero Pre-Certified! This means that the solar panels on the garage provide all of the power for the house and proves that the house will use the amount of energy that the design predicted.

Passive House building is an exceptional way of reducing energy use of a home by 70% or more. Passive House building is supremely comfortable, has a healthy indoor environment, has a resilient and durable structure, and has an extremely low utility cost with a reduced carbon footprint. This is the best path to a NET ZERO or Positive Energy house. We will accomplish this by using the following techniques:

1. Install super insulation

2. Create air tightness with a fresh air ventilation system

3. Eliminate thermal bridges

4. Install exgtremely high performance windows and doors

5. Optimize Solar heat gain design through 3D building modeling

Project Update

Framing is complete at the G. Christianson Passive House, and work has begun on interior details. Our team took a trip to the house to perform a blower door test before drywall work closes up access to the stud bays of the walls. A blower door test detects the amount of air pressure that leaks through any cracks or gaps. A standard new house leaks between 3-5 air changes per hour under pressure. A Passive House requires that the home be no more than 0.6 air changes per hour. The G. Christianson Passive House tested at 0.29 air changes per hour – less than half of what our goal was! We’re moving forward with a strong number under our tool belts.

There are a lot of aspects of this house that are unconventional – and we expect to see these building techniques become the new normal. The foundation was upgraded to meet Fire Station Seismic Code levels. We framed 8″ thick walls, which allows for R-29 blown-in fiberglass insulation. In comparison, standard building code requires R21. We are also installing a 2″ layer of sustainable-harvested cork to the exterior of the home, which will go underneath the siding. The added exterior insulation provides a layer of breathe-ability and an additional value of R8 insulation.

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[Photos, clockwise from top left: A Zehnder Fresh Air heat recovery ventilator, which brings fresh air to each room year-round; cork insulation on the exterior of the house; blower door test; interior stair framework].

The next phase of building is to install roofing, which is a copper-colored standing-seam metal roof – and one of Carl’s favorite design aspects of the home. The siding is Hardie panel siding with Boral trim. Simultaneously, we are working inside installing the drywall and getting ready for finishes like flooring, tile, and custom cabinetry.

Check in soon for our final photos of the first Passive House to be built in Corvallis. Please call us at 541-754-6326 if you would like a tour of this project.

Triple Pane Window Upgrade for Free

During the month of November, we can upgrade Plygem double pane HP vinyl windows to triple pane HP2 Max windows for FREE. As you may know, adding the additional layer of glass and inert gas increases the thermal performance of your window, for example a double pane window may have a R-3.33 and a triple pane window may be close to a R-5 (your window’s insulation value may vary). This is a great opportunity if you want to replace your inefficient windows this fall before the weather becomes cooler.

Please give us a call for a free estimate 541-754-6326.

Triple Pane Window Upgrade for Free

Free Upgrade to Triple Pane Windows

Building tight, energy efficient homes has ALWAYS been a chief concern here at G. Christianson. An efficient, well built home is a happy home. So, in two parts, here are a few tips from us to help you prepare for the cold and save a little money.

– Eliminate air leaks to the outdoors. Everyone has shoved a towel under a door at one time or another to stop cold air from coming in underneath. This is because no matter how good your insulation is, air flow into the house will bring that cold air right past the insulation barrier. Some places people don’t think about are.

-Window mounted air conditioners left up year round.
-Poorly sealing exterior doors.
-Basement or garage doors left open.
-Leaky attic access and crawlspace hatches.
-Disconnected heating ducts in your attic or crawlspace.

-Invest in more insulation in the attic. Nine out of ten houses we see do not have enough insulation in the attic. This is often the number one, best energy upgrade we can provide you for your home.

-Run your appliances more efficiently. There are a few ways you can tweak your appliance use to save energy.

-Clean your dryer lint filter more regularly. Even a thin layer of lint can keep the moisture in the dryer, forcing it to run longer, blowing hot air (money) directly to the outdoors. But NEVER direct dryer flow indoors, as the humidity can cause a host of problems in your home.
-Turn off the dry cycle on your dishwasher. Wash your dishes before bedtime and then leave the door open overnight to let the dishes air dry. The type of heat generated by dryers and dishwashers is the least efficient, most costly method, so any way you can run them less often will save you dollars.
-Invest in a programmable thermostat, then turn it low or off at night and when you are away from home. Many believe it is more expensive to heat a house that has grown cold than it is to keep a house warm all day. This is a common misconception! Like trying to keep a fire running all day, you use up more logs and dollars heating the house when you are away. If your home is very cold when you arrive at the end of the day, it is likely because you have a leaky home and you may want us to inspect it for energy issues. We can help you pick the best thermostat for you. We currently have a NEST thermostat in our office, which takes the guesswork out of programming and figuring out how your thermostat works.

-If you have Cadet-style wall heaters, blow compressed air in while running a vacuum hose next to the grill. This helps reduce the risk of fire and cuts down on that burnt smell a Cadet heater makes after being out of use for a while.

To be continued in part 2… While you are waiting, go to our website at www.gchristiansonconstruction.com and click on the “Save Energy” link under the “REMODELING” tab at the top of the page. There you can learn how we can help your home save you money.

Nest Thermostat

Nest Thermostat

Another article in our ongoing series about ways that we can save you money on energy costs and increase your home comfort.

Uncontrolled air leakage in your home can cause increased heating and cooling costs, drafty uncomfortable rooms, and potentially expose your family to unhealthy crawlspace air. In older homes we frequently find that very little effort was made to control air leaks. On all of our projects we pay careful attention to sealing penetrations in the building envelope. That includes plumbing, mechanical and electrical penetrations as well as windows and doors.  For example, you can often feel cold outside air coming in through the wall under your kitchen sink where the plumbing pipes come through the wall.

Air leakage can occur at any location between conditioned and unconditioned spaces where incomplete air barriers exist (like where plumbers drill holes through the wood framing to get into the crawlspace). We typically use materials such as plywood, oriented strand board, drywall, sheetmetal, and foam board to block large openings. For smaller leaks and around pipes we will use spray foam and caulk. Even if your walls are insulated, a typical fiberglass insulation batt will allow a lot of air to flow through.

If you suspect your home has air leaks or drafty spots, our BPI certified technician can come and test your home with our Blower Door, Duct Leakage Pan and Smoke Pen and help find your leaks.  He will work with you to find a good solution to solve your air leaks and add insulation to save you money on your heating bills. Call us now to save money on your heating bills and keep unhealthy crawlspace air out of your home. 541-754-6326

– Carl

We have just launched a new service:

HOME ENERGY AUDIT

A thorough inspection can save up to 30% on energy costs with
Home Performance with ENERGY STAR

When was the last oil change on your car?  You know that your car needs to be well maintained for maximum performance and longevity.   You know that the cost of regular maintenance is money well spent. If your car breaks down, the cost of repair is usually much greater than the cost of maintenance.  But have you considered “looking under the hood” of  your largest investment, your home?

Your home, much like your car, is a modern piece of machinery with thousands of pieces all working in concert to provide you with a safe, comfortable and cost effective place to live.  Unfortunately, many homes fall short in key areas.  Do you have cold areas in your home?  High energy bills?  Mold or mildew that never quite goes away?  These can be indicators of serious problems and potentially major health risks.

In these days of rising gasoline and energy prices, you need to keep your car and your home running efficiently.  We here at G. Christianson offer more than 25 years of advanced, environmentally sound building experience to help you keep a healthy home. Call G. Christianson Construction to thoroughly test, inspect and fix your home.

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HOME ENERGY AUDIT

  • The centerpiece of this audit is the EPS report.  Similar to a miles per gallon rating, but for a home.
  • Using advanced software and diagnostic equipment, we analyze your home’s energy use.  Where are you losing dollars and why?
  • Combustion appliance safety diagnostics by a BPI certified inspector.
  • Comprehensive building report with color photos and detailed recommendations covering both energy savings and general building performance.
  • Click for more information and frequently asked questions.
  • Cost: $475 (you may qualify for a $150 Energy Trust incentive)

Please give us a call now to start saving money. 541-754-6326

– Carl

In November I gave a talk to the Academy of Lifelong Learning (sponsored by Oregon State Alumni Association) about Reducing Home Energy Use, Deep Energy Retrofits and Net Zero Homes. In front of a group of about 50 inquisitive people, I talked about how energy audits can detect home air leaks, which the EPA estimates waste between 25% to 40% of the energy used to heat or cool a home. Then I talked about the advantages of doing “light” energy retrofits, mainly the relatively low cost measures like air duct sealing, insulating attics and air sealing attics and their quick payback period.

Next, we discussed “deep energy retrofits” where we will go into a home and address the issues discovered in the energy audit. A deep energy retrofit can significantly reduce home energy use by 50% to 90% by addressing your home’s entire energy load, including heating, cooling, hot water, lighting, appliances, outlet loads and even transportation. Typically, this includes air sealing and insulating floors, walls and attics with the goal of reducing heating and cooling demand dramatically. Then, we would replace old inefficient heating systems and often install ductless heat pumps (heating efficiency above 300% vs. a 90% efficient furnace). We might install waste water heat recovery units under the home’s main shower and install an AirTap Heat Pump Water heater or a Tankless Natural Gas water heater, or even a Solar water heating system. Next we might replace old drafty single pane windows and doors. We would suggest upgrading to new energy star (or above energy star) appliances, we would replace inefficient lighting with LED or compact fluorescent. There are a lot of other opportunities for improvement as well. Often these projects occur in a phased effort to coordinate with the homeowner’s budget and schedule.

Granted some of these measures may not have a quick payoff schedule, but not everything in life is about the economics. I think there is a moral argument that we should be reducing our carbon footprint and not burning as much fossil fuels as we can.

If you take the moral angle, it makes perfectly good sense once all of the improvements above are made to your home to add solar panels to provide the equivalent power as your home uses. We can often install these fairly unobtrusively on your roof and at a very reasonable rate. If you have the roof space, you could then add additional solar panels to provide enough power to charge an electric vehicle and create a truly Net Zero Home. Please give us a call if you are interested in an energy audit, light energy retrofit or deep energy retrofit at 541-754-6326.

Our Lead Carpenter Tanner has recently updated his energy saving skills by earning the Building Performance Analyst Certification including the optional Building Envelope Specialist training. I have held my LEED AP certification since 2007, when I worked for Hoffman Construction and used my training to help build an energy efficient LEED Gold Certified condominium tower. Greg recently earned the REGREEN 301: Implementing Residential Remodeling training. Steve is taking a new course called Sustainable Home Professional, it includes 6 days of interactive training over the next 6 months.

– Carl

We recently completed an insulation project for a long time member of the Corvallis community. Pat requested that we give her a quote on installing new wall insulation in the home that she and her husband built in the 1950’s. Many of the older homes in Corvallis don’t have any insulation in their walls which can lead to drafty, uncomfortable rooms and high energy bills.

When we provide Home Weatherization inspections or Energy Audits, we typically recommend spending money first on air sealing and insulating attics and crawlspaces because they are easy to access and thus less costly. Wall insulation is usually a secondary project. Wall insulation retrofits are expensive because we need to drill holes either on the interior or exterior of the home to blow in the insulation. At Pat’s house, her vintage wall paper meant that we had to drill from the outside.

In one marathon day last week, we removed a row of cedar sidewall shakes from her home, drilled holes and filled each stud bay with blown-in dense pack fiberglass insulation. A brief description from the University of Minnesota: “Dense pack insulation is ideal for insulation retrofits in older homes. For instance, it can be blown into closed stud wall cavities with minimal disruption to the exterior cladding or interior plaster. In addition, because the stud cavities are fully closed, it can be blown at high densities, which can improve the R-value of fiberglass insulation and prevent future settling. Finally, since the exterior walls of older homes are commonly constructed with boards rather than sheet goods and don’t typically have a continuous air barrier, air infiltration through the wall is often a significant issue. In this situation, the air sealing benefits of dense pack cellulose or fiberglass can significantly reduce air infiltration.”

Insulation values of R 3.5 to R4.2 can be achieved, so in a 2×4 wall you may see insulation values between R12 and R15 as well as reduced air infiltration.

We discovered that a few of Pat’s walls had already been insulated during a previous remodel. To be fair to her, we are crediting back to her the cost for insulating those walls.

Once the walls were insulated, we sealed each drill hole, reinstalled siding, re-painted and cleaned up. Please give us a call if you would like to know more about insulation, Energy Trust Weatherization Inspections or Performance Tested Comfort Systems Inspections. 541-754-6326.

–          Carl

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Who We Are

We are premier builders for additions, remodeling and new construction for Corvallis and the Willamette Valley. We specialize in unique and challenging projects and apply sustainable building principles.

Contact Information

Please call us for a Free Estimate!

541.754.6326

541.207.2240

gcci@comcast.net

644 NW 4th St. Corvallis, OR

Greg Christianson

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