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By Renee Sande
Down to Earth NW News

The Inland Northwest EcoBuilding Guild is gearing up for great activities this fall, beginning with building homes for chickens to touring green homes throughout the Spokane area. Whether you’re a builder, interior designer, student, homeowner, or will be a homeowner someday, there’s something for everyone.

The Inland Northwest (and Southeast British Columbia) EcoBuilding Guild chapter was formed in 1997 to spread the mission of the nonprofit Northwest EcoBuilding Guild to bring together building professionals, owners/builders, and individuals who share an interest in promoting the concept and knowledge of an ecological, healthy, and sustainable built environment.

The local chapter has been reaching out to professional organizations involved in the design and construction industries to share what it has been learning about sustainability and resource efficiency in the building trades. This outreach has led to collaborations which have greatly advanced the cause of sustainable design and construction in the Inland Northwest.

Upcoming projects that may interest the public include:

Chicken Coop Design Contest: The assignment is to design a chicken coop that urban chickens will be proud of. It must be build-able, but does not necessarily have to be built.

All entries are due by Sept. 1, with an entry fee of $40, to Design Collaborative, on the second floor of The Globe building in Spokane, at 204 North Division, Suite E. Entries can be presented in any physical form – on paper, model or fully built — but must not show any identification and must be accompanied by the entry form and fee.

Designs will be judged by three chicken-approved experts and winners announced on September 17 with three cash prizes of $200, $300 and $500 awarded to 3rd, 2nd and 1st places.

The 1st place winning design will be made into a kit whose sale will benefit the Spokane chapter of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild. All winning designs will be on display during Sustainable September Spokane.

Contact Sarah McGovern at for more info or an entry form.

3rd Annual 2011 Spokane Green + Solar Home Tour: This is one of many tours happening nationwide Sept. 18 as part of the American Solar Energy Society National Solar Tour, which includes more than 160,000 participants visiting innovative buildings in 3,200 communities across the U.S.
The Spokane-area tour will take visitors through six homes in Spokane and Liberty Lake, including remodels and new construction.

The tour will take you through six homes in Spokane and Liberty Lake, including the Gee Cohousing in the U District which is set to receive LEED for Homes Platinum where the homes feature a range of materials and techniques, including strawbale to SIPs to modular, factory built panels. Three of the homes feature solar arrays, with two of them powering the accommodations for their electric cars. Other homes will cover a variety of energy and resource saving approaches such as solar water heating and rainwater harvesting and environmentally-sensitive building practices such as using reused materials and constructing green roofs.

Participants will learn about various energy-saving features such as solar electricity, solar water heating and rainwater harvesting and environmentally-sensitive building practices such using reused materials and green roofs.

As part of the world’s largest grassroots solar event, Spokane’s tour strives to showcase a variety of building types, renewable energy and green building technologies, and local firms that are leading the way in creating energy efficient homes and buildings. Attendees can speak with designers, builders, contractors and homeowners to get inspired and learn about strategies to lower utility bills and live more sustainably.

The tour includes workshops at local businesses and will finish up at Sun People Dry Goods, where tour participants can vote for the Chicken Coop Design People’s Choice Award and connect with other tour-goers. Tickets are $10. Email for more info.

2011 EcoBuilding Guild Retreat: Building Toward the Future: Creating resiliency in our homes and communities. The 2011 Northwest EcoBuilding Guild’s 14th Annual Retreat is Friday, Oct. 21 through Sunday, Oct. 23 at Pilgrim Firs Resort in Port Orchard, Wash. Come for a day or the whole weekend, professionals and homeowners welcome.

The keynote address will be given by Alex Wilson, founder of BuildingGreen, Inc., and executive editor of Environmental Building News and the GreenSpec Product Directory. Focusing on resilient design, Alex will talk about his work with “passive survivability” over the past six years and how this shift to “resilience” aims to expand the dialog among all sectors of society, including the design and construction community, policy makers, insurance companies, and other businesses.

A widely published writer, LEED Accredited Professional, and an instructor with Boston Architectural College’s Sustainable Design Institute, Wilson is the author of “Your Green Home” and coauthor of the “Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings and Green Development: Integrating Ecology and Real Estate.” He served on the national board of the U.S. Green Building Council from 2000 through 2005 and received the organization’s 2008 Leadership Award for Education. In 2010, he received the second-annual Hanley Award for Vision and Leadership in Sustainable Housing.

Eleven other speakers throughout the weekend include Cate O’dahl of ESP Services, an early-adopter of Green Building in Washington State; architect George Ostrow of Seattle; and Israel Gaphni of Sound Mechanical Consulting, Inc., in the Puget Sound Area. Topics will range from “Communication Tools to Sharpen Your Edge” to “Energy Simulation Hands-on Training” to “Designing for Water Interdependence.”

Retreat costs range from $125 to $315; members receive $50 discount for the weekend or $25 discount for one-day attendance. People can join here.

Registration for the ‘Full Weekend’ includes lodging at Pilgrim Firs Friday and Saturday, and all meals. ‘Saturday or Sunday Only’ registration includes meals. Register here.

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