Land use | Ecotrope

A Greener Home ... In The Garage

Ecotrope | Sept. 24, 2012 4:48 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 3:39 p.m.

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Laura Master and Michael Draper have a 2,800-square-foot home in southeast Portland. Until recently, they were using their garage to store a vintage car that needed work. But they decided they’d rather use the space as an art studio. So they sold the car and spent $130,000 to turn their garage into 480-square-foot green home.

The garage-turned-cottage was one of several small, backyard living spaces on this weekend’s Build It Green tour in Portland. They’re part of a thrifty and eco-friendly trend that the city of Portland has encouraged as a way to curb urban sprawl. Under city code, they’re called accessory dwelling units or ADUs, and the city waived the development fees  for building them in 2010.

Many homeowners adding ADUs are either living in their homes and renting out the smaller units or moving into the smaller units and renting out their homes for income. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reports the easiest way to build a greener home is to build a smaller home. So, in addition to increasing urban density, these ADUs also win green points for using fewer building materials and less energy.

Up-cycling an existing structure as Master and Draper did with their garage further reduces the amount of new building materials required – and the overall carbon footprint. Check out the slide show above for details on their project.

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