Archive for the 'sustainable' Category

Green Meets Luxury in Downtown Bend

A few weeks ago I had the opportuunity, along with other members of the High Desert Design Council, to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the new Oxford Hotel in dowtown Bend. The Oxford in noteworthy for a few reasons. First it is only Bend’s second four-star property . Second, it is the first for downtown, bringing a much-needed element to the heart of this charming and historic district. Third and most interestingly, it was designed and built for sustainablility.

The Oxford is a small boutique hotel, 59 suites. The rooms are comfortable, well-designed and well-appointed with soy-foam Natura beds, high-quality linens, organic locally-made bath products (in bulk) from Dani and in-room coffee/tea service including organic teas. The lounge and restaurant feature locally-grown, organic ingredients whenever possible, wines from NW wineries and beer from local breweries. As you may or may not know, we Bendites take our beer very seriously and have more micro-breweries per capita than any other city in the Northwest. Many of them award-winning. But I digress…

The kitchen/bar areas feature concrete countertops and Energy Star appliances, the bathroom shower and vanities have recycled glass counters, the towels are a bamboo-cotton blend, sinks and showers reduce water flow and the guest rooms feature dual-flush toilets. The list goes on…

What I find most interesting about The Oxford is the electrolyzed water system that creates two salt water cleaning solutions – one acid, one alkaline. By charging it with either positive or negative ions, these two solutions are then used for sanitizing, degreasing and in washing machines eliminating the need for chemical cleaners. Detergents used for dishwashing and laundry are eco-sensitive. Imagine the amount of chemicals the average hotel…even a small one…uses on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. It adds up! That is a lot of toxicity released in to our sewers and atmosphere. At The Oxford this has been dramatically reduced. Amazing!

So Kudos to the owners, designers and managers of The Oxford Hotel. You’ve shown us that green can be luxurious even on a medium-sized commercial scale. And you’ve created a healthier environment for your guests and employees. I wish you success.

Come visit us our charming mountain town. You can experience The Oxford…and the beer…for yourself.

Note: The Oxford has applied for LEED certification and it will be used as a blueprint for all of Baney Corp’s future properties.

Top two photos courtesy of The Oxford Hotel

Dress up Your Lighting.

Lighting is such an hugely important and often overlooked part of design…at least for the do-it-yourselfer. Professional designers know and understand the importance of lighting. Not just the function, but the art of lighting.

There is at least one place in most homes that would benefit from a really outstanding light fixture. That said I thought I’d share with you some of the more spectacular chandeliers and pendants out there. These are all contenders in a “Best of 2009” competition, sponsored by Interior Design magazine. They all fall into the “statement piece” category, meaning  they move beyond function and becomes a focal point, a statement,  in the space they occupy. Think of them as a fantastic piece of jewelry for your home.

I hope you enjoy browsing and realize you don’t have to settle for ho-hum lighting.

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Sunset from Fire Farm Lighting


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Dada from Globe Lighting


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Scrap Lights from Graypants, Inc.
made from salvaged corrugated cardboard


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Light Art from 3-Form
made from 40% pre-consumer, recycled material


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Heat from Joel Berman Glass Studios, Ltd.


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Cumulus from ABYU Lighting
made from turkey and coque  feathers and crystal teardrops


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Organics Chandelier from D’style


CooperShaperFabrique101P_th

Shaper Fabriqué Pendant from Cooper Lighting


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Orbit1 from Bodner Chandeliers
steel with eco-friendly bronze finish


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Venus from Bodner Chandeliers
steel with eco-friendly bronze finish


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Cascading Series from Studio Vetro
hand-cast glass ribbons on a steel frame

Energy Performance Ratings Coming to a Home Near You.

You may not have heard of an Energy Performance Score (EPS) rating for your home, but you will soon. Developed by Energy Trust of Oregon, it is the equivilant of the MPG rating on your car. It is a clear and quantitative way to compare a home’s energy use and costs. The lower the score, the more energy-efficient the home.

ENH_TP_EPS_Certificate_pg1The EPS allows homebuyers to compare new homes based on energy efficiency, utility costs and environmental impact. It also gives homebuyers a sense of how many energy upgrades were made to the house beyond code requirements. It provides a good picture of what the utility usage of a prospective new home will be. These scores are now available on the MLS listing so ask your real estate agent.

Many builders today voluntarily have newly constructed homes scored as a matter of course. But what about older homes? How do they get scored?

First an energy audit is done. The audit measures a home’s energy use through the structure itself, the ducting and windows. It looks at onsite energy generation for heating, cooling, lighting and the heating of water. It looks for energy-efficient appliances and lighting. All of this is calculated to create the EPS and compares it to the building code requirements at the time the home was built.

As a homeowner, this is valuable information that can be used to upgrade the energy efficiency of your home. From there you can look at federal and state tax incentives to determine what upgrades make sense for you. And don’t forget the added benefit of increasing the value of your home.

In the UK, homes that meet higher energy performance standards benefit from lower mortgage and insurance rates. We aren’t there yet, but Oregon has set a deadline of 2030 for new homes to meet a net-zero standard. Meaning that a structure’s energy consumption will be will have a net-zero impact.

There are so many options available now. Getting your house scored a good first step in evaluating what the next step is for you.

Is Carpet Really the Best Choice for Your Floors?

A couple of weeks ago I was giving a presentation on eco-friendly finish materials for residential use – covering products from flooring (including carpet) to counter tops.  A point I always try to make is that these products aren’t just easier on the environment, but they are healthier for us as well. We’re not living with and breathing all of the chemicals and toxins that are present in many building materials.

detail_carpet_plush_3_2During the Q&A, I was asked “If you could make one change in an older home to make it healthier, what would it be?” Without even hesitating, I said replace the carpet. I hadn’t realized how strongly I felt about this until then. Carpet can be nasty, especially if it’s older. Now before I get the carpet lobby coming after me, let me qualify this…not ALL carpet is nasty. Fortunately most carpet manufacturers now offer natural fiber carpets made from hemp or wool. They don’t off-gas, they’re durable, stain-resistant and feel good. Yes they may be a bit more expensive than carpet made from nylon or polyester, but in my opinion, the benefits FAR outweigh the additional cost. If you want to read a good article on carpet off-gassing, take a look at this one.

Why am I so adamant about carpet in older homes? It’s not still releasing toxins is it? The truth is, we don’t know. If you ask the carpet companies they will tell you the off-gassing isn’t a problem at all ,ever. If you ask an environmentalist or many health providers they will say carpets off-gas for many years, long after the smell has dissipated. But off-gassing is only part of the picture. Carpets, especially those that have been around awhile, contain all sorts of other nasty things like dirt, dust mites and other toxins that have been tracked in by us and our pets. This is of even more concern if you have small children. They spend a lot of time close to the floor. Their exposure is much greater.

There are so many good beautiful and eco-friendly flooring options available, take a good look before just replacing carpet with carpet. If you really want or need carpet, choose one made of  wool or other natural fiber, you won’t be sorry. And your lungs will thank you.

Photo: Empire Today, LLC

3-Form Panels: High Design, Very Cool AND Easy on the Planet

p_v_346_539_2I have fallen head over heals for this product…chroma and resin panels from 3-Form. You’ve probably seen these products in used in architectural settings…hotels, commercial buildings, etc. If you’re local…in the form of the alabaster bar at Blacksmith in Bend. As stunning as they are in large-scale installations, they can also be used very effectively for residential applications.

So what makes these products so cool? First they look amazing and perform beautifully. The way they filter and almost “hold” light is ethereal. The color palettes and options are inspired, AND they are incredibly durable. If having fabulous design and versatility isn’t enough, the 3-Form products are manufactured with environmental accountability and sustainability at the forefront, many are made from 40% post-consumer waste and some utilize 100% post-consumer waste. Additionally, their “Full Circle” product line incorporates materials crafted by artisans from around the world in a fair-trade program…truly beautiful.

p_v_261_388_13-Form, the company, was formed with the vision of creating high-design materials with a commitment to environmental responsibility. Their “Path to Zero” program will stop sending manufacturing waste to landfill by the end of 2009 and allow the company to be carbon neutral by 2017. All of their products ship with instructions on returning the product to 3-Form at end-of-life for recycling, upcycling and re-purposing.

p_v_268_398_33-form products are available only to the trade, but your favorite interior designer will be more than happy to explore the options and access this amazing product line for you. I promise, you’ll love these versatile and unique materials.

Photos: 3-Form

YOLO Colorhouse releases 36 new “hopeful” colors

Fans of YOLO Colorhouse paint now have 36 additional colors to immerse themselves in. The new palette, Hope, is a collection of beautiful colors that are a bit lighter and brighter than the Earth collection we have all grown to love. The fabulous women of YOLO have provided me with a short video. Take a look and let me know what you think.

For those of you that may not know YOLO Colorhouse… a brief introduction…YC is the brainchild of Virginia Young and Janie Lowe…both artists. They had a custom paint and plaster finish company in Portland, Oregon. In 2000 they made a commitment to use products that would have a lower impact the their health, that of their clients and the environment. They began experimenting with old recipes for clay- and milk-based paints,  and low- and zero-VOC products. The result is YOLO Colorhouse, a premium, zero-VOC paint that contains no ammonia, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, or crystalline silica or any of the other toxins normally found in paint.

I can tell you from personal experience that the YOLO paints have great coverage (not the case with most low/zero-VOC paint), there is no detectable odor, they’re durable and the colors are gorgeous. The brilliant ladies of YOLO also developed poster-sized swatches to make it much easier to choose the right color. No more squinting at those tiny swathes in fan books. How cool is that?

I hope you’ll consider YOLO the next time you have a paint project. You won’t be sorry. YOLO Colorhouse is available locally at brilliant environmental building products, in downtown Bend.


Contact the Author

martha@mmdsf.com 541-330-5899 www.marthamurraydesign.com

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