Coastal Home Goes Green


For most people, integrating reclaimed wood into a new home isn’t personal. For Terry and Teresa Hancock, the choice to include Douglas fir timbers for the columns and beams of their Neskowin beach cabin on the Oregon Coast—in addition to the interior framing, wall paneling, flooring, stairs and ceiling—was a meaningful way to honor a piece of family history. Teresa, an operating room nurse, and Terry, a commercial realtor, salvaged the wood from a Salem lumber mill founded in 1938, which Terry’s family had owned for its final thirty-five years.

Creatively re-purposed building materials are just the beginning when it comes to the green features of the Hancocks’ 2,185-square-foot, three-bedroom Northwest lodge style home a stone’s throw from the beach. The Hancock house also incorporates an innovative air-to-water heat pump for an underfloor radiant heating system, an efficient lighting system, extra insulation, strategically placed windows that encourage cross ventilation and a heat recovery ventilator that ensures clean air. It was these features and more that recently earned the Hancock home a LEED certification for its sustainable architecture and its conservative construction practices.

“Our family wanted to craft a beach home that would connect prior generations of our family to the future,” Terry explains. Throughout the design and building process, Terry and Teresa, along with their children Alex, 23 and Kelsey, 21, helped make decisions that led them to combine the sustainable, durable and environmentally friendly features.

With a guiding vision of creating a warm, cozy beach cabin that would be low maintenance and inexpensive to operate, the Hancocks teamed up with architect Nathan Good in Salem and consulted longtime friend and architect David Gellos of Portland. They hired energy consultant Charlie Stephens to establish a digital energy model for the home. In short order, a talented fleet of builders and craftspeople soon gathered on-site each day for the eight-month building process—many of whom had been without work in the struggling economy.

The Hancocks and Good designed the home with an inward focus and a great room at its center, allowing for unhindered movement between the kitchen, dining area and living room. An elegant curved wall made from the family’s lumber warehouse visually unites all three areas. With its lofted, Douglas fir beamed ceiling, towering stone fireplace, and handsome iron chandelier, the great room is a place for connectivity, conversation and relaxing with family and friends.

A set of salvaged bolts, washers and rods left over from the warehouse provided the raw materials for the iron railings that run along the stairwell and loft overhead. Together, Alex, Kelsey and Teresa helped create the design that playfully weaves together fish and stylized bubbles, an ode to the nearby ocean
and its inhabitants.

Just as families need open space for congregation, people also desire solitude. Perched at the highest point of the house isa small private surf tower that allows the Hancocks to take in 360-degree views of the coast, the Coastal Range to the east and the surrounding town.

To maximize natural light, Good included a generous allotment of clerestory windows along the east, west and south sides of the home. “Those who live along the Oregon Coast understand the importance of natural light within their homes; it’s a precious commodity,” he explains. Houses designed with strategically placed windows “can do wonders to lift the spirits of the occupants, especially during the overcast days from the late fall to early spring.”

Since moving in this past November, the Hancocks have enjoyed hosting friends and relatives in the home that thoughtfully weaves together bits of family both past and present. After the rewarding process of planning for and building their dream home on the Oregon Coast with the help of many, Terry reflects, “The house is part of a journey, and it will continue to move on.”

Green Upgrades That Pay

For an existing home, a handful of relatively simple, inexpensive interventions can help conserve resources while decreasing monthly bills.

Call in a professional

An energy auditing specialist will closely evaluate where your home is performing well on the consumption spectrum, and where smart upgrades could minimize costs (think installing weather
stripping, more efficient windows and updated insulation). Those in the service territory of Portland
and a few other select regions of the state may discover that their energy audit fee is covered by the Energy Trust of Oregon or their local energy utility. (Cost: free to $250)

Schedule a filter change

Changing the air filters on your furnace or ventilation system every two months will translate into cleaner air in the home and a potential reduction in your bill due to less air flow resistance. (Cost: $20 to $100)

Shed some light

With the advent of newer fluorescent technology over the last three years, these highly efficient bulbs now give off far warmer and more pleasant light than ever before. Happily, technological advances also mean the cost of switching to compact fluorescents is declining, too. (Cost: $50 to $250)

Flush your troubles away

Toilets are typically the greatest water-consuming fixtures in a home. In the United States, on average, each of us flushes more than eighteen gallons of water per day. Replacing an older toilet with a new generation dual flush toilet can reduce that fixture’s water waste by half to two-thirds. (Cost: $300 to $1,200)

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