Builder James Arnold and his crew at JRA Green Building Construction recently built a custom home for a client in Southwest Portland. But, it was not just any custom home. The client decided to go for the Living Building Challenge. The Challenge is a strict rating system that leaps far beyond LEED in its requirements for non-toxic, locally sourced materials for every component of the building. Wood used in the Challenge must either be reclaimed or FSC® certified, and it must all be sourced from within 200 miles of the job site.
James Arnold, a BLA member, knew who to call. He contacted Sustainable Northwest Wood, BLA member and Portland lumberyard. They were able to get beautiful, 100% FSC® and locally sourced wood from local mills, including Kaster’s Kustom Cutting, a BLA member in Mulino, for every last foot of wood in the building.
The wood was sourced from restorative forestry projects designed to improve overall forest health and help restore old growth conditions. FSC® Western Red Cedar was used for the decking and siding, bringing warmth to the clean, modern lines of the building. FSC® Big Leaf Maple was custom-milled into flooring, trim, and architectural panels for the cabinetry and interior doors. It was also used to build the eye-catching floating staircase, a focal piece in the house, as shown in photos below.
The maple cabinetry in the kitchen is a special product that was made using a veneer log on plywood cores. The maple is from another BLA member, a small custom sawmill, Zena Forest Products, which utilizes a variety of restorative forestry methods.The veneer is from Oregon grown, FSC® certified softwoods. The maple veneer and softwood base are joined beautifully by BLA member Sustainable Northwest Wood.
There are many different hardwood plywoods available on the market, but none used local hardwoods – until Sustainable Northwest Wood started making them recently. This innovative partnership between BLA members provides a beautiful way to showcase our Pacific Northwest hardwoods.
The home was designed by Michelle Jeresek, who was at Departure Design at the time and is now principal at Ivon Street Studio. It also has net zero water and energy. It generates all of its own electricity through its solar panels and Passive House design, and all of its water through an advanced rainwater harvesting system. Way to push the design envelope, BLA members!