Thursday, April 22, 2010

Living Green



When the Executive Producer of the Oprah! show called my husband on April 1st, my first thought was that someone was playing a prank on us. Turned out, she really was the executive producer for Oprah Winfrey and she was offering us the chance of a lifetime...to have one of our green building clients be featured on Oprah!'s Earth Day show on living an environmental lifestyle.

As the builders of the very first 'Passive House US on the Pacific Coast (there was one built in Canada in Whistler B.C. for the Olympics) this Executive producer did a search and we were selected for the amazing construction techniques that my son, Blake, (who took an intensive course and passed an arduous test to become a genuine Certified Passive House Consultant) and my husband Larry (Bilyeu Homes, Inc.) are using in the building of a new construction home, here in Salem, Oregon.

A Passive House is a very well-insulated, virtually air-tight building that is primarily heated by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people, electrical equipment, etc. Something as simple as using a hair dryer, almost instantly warms the internal temperature of the home. Using today's highest energy standards techniques, the heating energy consumption of a home is cut by an amazing 90%.

When my husband was asked if any of the customer's who've bought our 'passive houses' had a wife with young children who would be willing to appear on a show, he had to tell her that the house was not only not lived in yet, but they didn't have children. What he should have told her, was that it was not only the first house in Oregon, but the first on the West coast and only one of a handful in the entire nation, and then bragged up the house... ;)

Instead, Oprah's producer was directed to other 'passive house' members, here in Oregon, and they were able to contact a couple in Portland that are doing a remodel to their current home and are using some of the same concepts. The Everharts are a wonderful family and live a great and very green life, so they should be quite fun to watch on the Oprah! today.

This wasn't our first brush with near fame. Two years ago the cable network show "Househunters' called my husband, too. They'd heard about another award winning 'green' home that we'd built in the Pringle Creek Community: a Cottage Home Awarded LEED Platinum Certification in 2007, and wanted to feature it as one of the 5 houses a couple would consider buying in the show. The problem with that show, unlike Oprah's which is legit...Househunters was rigged. The couple had already bought a house and they were trying to find 4 more houses for the 'just looked at and didn't buy category. Heck, we aren't losers, why start out that way to begin with? So, he turned that one down too.

And for us? We still live in the first house we built over 32 years ago. If only I was the owner of our almost finished, new amazing house...heck, even I could have borrowed a couple of young kids for Oprah's sake!!

Next time, I'll answer the phone!! No more unanswered or ignored phone calls by me!

I just know I could have changed Oprah's mind about what kind of show "she thought she wanted" for today. I might have even been able to teach her to sew, and we could have played in my scrapbags, and made all kinds of quilts out of the bits and pieces other quilters throw out, or give away!

Oprah has dogs, doesn't she? In fact, she has two new puppies creating canine chaos in her household. I know she would have just loved a couple of new dog quilts. Those little spaniels would have finally have been able to cuddle up in their kennels and sleep at night.

Maybe we could have started a new series on her new network. I could have traveled the world designing scrappy dog quilts from found materials...Queen Elizabeth's drawing room curtains for her corgi's, Paris Hilton's purse linings for quilted duponi creations for her Chihuahua,Tinkerbell , maybe even the First Lady's white Inaugural gown for a bassinet curtain for Bo's dog bed!

Oh well....it's so much better being 'almost famous' than not famous at all. I can still seek solace in the sewing room and fondle those strips and strings, smell the finish on a fine piece of quilter's cotton and treasure the free-motion capabilities of my Husquevarna Saphirre. Who needs fame and fortune when your shelves are stacked high with fabric? Even if it is all recycled, re-purposed, donated, and gleaned from other people's trash cans?

And Oprah! you would have just loved me. Sorry, you never got the chance to know what you missed!

Oh, and Happy 40th Earth Day, anyway..........
Go Green for Earth Day 2010 - Oprah.com

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Links for those who are looking for them:
First Passive House on the West Coast USA: 16th and Nebraska
Passive House Certification

Bilyeu Homes, Inc.
Passive House US
Passive House N

Articles about the house

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7 comments:

  1. I'm still laughing! On the other hand, I'm also still impressed!

    I kept a link to the Pringle Community for a long time and used to "visit" regularly. I'm envious of the people who are living there! And to think you and your husband are responsible for one of their award-winning houses. An interesting coincidence that we've been blog-buddies, and I was completely unaware of your connection to another one of my areas of interest.

    I DO think the scrappy dog quilts would make a great show...and I KNOW Oprah would have loved you!

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  2. So sorry it didn't happen, Michelle. You have such a good attitude about being "almost-famous"! I bet your son was in so much shock he was prob had brain-freeze. I sure would have ....

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  3. You should be famous Michele - the house is only part of the picture- Your unwavering commitment to the things that you believe in and your willingness to help others are are all virtues that Oprah would find inspiring- I know I do.
    You are one amazing lady
    Happy Earth Day Michele!
    Regards,
    Anna

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  4. This is so interesting, amazing, and quite funny. I would have loved to have seen something of yours on Oprah...especially you!

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  5. Anonymous5:49 AM

    Congratulations on your award. I watched Oprah yesterday, and imagined it was your family or one of your customers. It would have been fun.

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  6. I had no idea and how interesting. They don't know what they missed. On an amusing side note, I don't want to know what's in Paris Hilton's purse-icky!

    Have a great weekend Michele

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  7. PS Anyone who ever misses a really good Oprah! You can catch them on Oprah Radio in an audio version. I found that interesting, and just thought I'd share ;)

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.