Neal Smith shows some of the components for his AirScape Whole House Fans. Smith will be one of the vendors at next weekend's Oregon Green Expo. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Bob Pennell

Greening up at The Expo

Wanna green up your HVAC system for a very affordable price using simple and long-existing technology?

It's called a whole-house fan, and what it does is suck out the hot air gathered near the ceilings of your house and force it outside, allowing cool, refreshing night air to flow in without you having to flip on the air conditioning.

The fan uses a 100-watt electric motor, which draws the same power as a light bulb, says Neil Smith, who devised and manufactures the fans in his AirScape company in Medford. And the fan pulls in fresh air, as opposed to an energy-guzzling air conditioner, which just recycles the same stale air while wasting power and your hard-earned money.

If you're moderately handy, the machine can be self-installed by cutting a rectangle in the ceiling for the grid, screwing it between joists and running the flexible ductwork in your attic to an outside wall. Then you cut a space for the fan, and you're good to go. The devices, which are engineered on-site, use locally available parts and labor — and start at $550.

AirScape and others also sell a solar fan for $329 that does similar work. It is smaller, but it requires no plug-in electricity. The solar panel powers the fan, which exhausts indoor hot air.

These are just two of the scads of devices you can research and buy at the fourth annual Oregon Green Expo, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 1 at The Expo in Central Point.

Admission costs $3; pre-teens get in free.

This year's Green Expo has attracted more than 50 exhibitors and 27 sponsors, with a marketing program that doubled since last year, says Green Expo founder and director Don McCoy.

"We expect several thousand people to attend," he says. "People and businesses are really embracing a more self-sufficient, sustainable and independent style of local living, from growing your own chickens and eggs to creating your own power and taking the pressure off the family."

The exhibitors will be joined by an assortment of the valley's most knowledgeable people in the realm of green and sustainable living, who will offer presentations on topics that include green jobs, green financing, green entrepreneurship, eco-nature tourism, green home building and remodeling, sustainability education and lifestyles, green household products, organic gardening and food, sustainable transportation, green energy, recycling, water ecology, health and wellness, arts and culture, social networks and media, and resource centers.

Among the displays at the Green Expo, you'll find:

  • Boulton Power Boats of Central Point, makers of solar-rechargeable boat motors.
  • Evergreen Softub, which markets spas with no heater or heating element, "instead pulling heat from the liquid-cooled motor and recycling the heat back into the tub to provide the most energy-efficient spa, gallon for gallon, on the market."
  • INergy Homes, a Medford company that builds with light-gauge steel framing made from recycled steel with exterior insulation. They're "fast build, energy-efficient, durable and fire resistant."
  • Energy-efficient, insulated, stone veneer and SIPs, or structural insulated panels. from Pacific Builders Resource.
  • ShelterWorks, makers of insulated blocks, made of 85 percent recycled wood fiber and 15 percent cement, which "build a highly energy-efficient building, and the earthen materials create a mold-free, indoor living environment."

The Green Expo is a veritable university when it comes to presentations on green-sustainable issues and challenges, including:

  • Living Off The Grid, Renewable Energy and Micro-Utilities. This presentation will explore how individuals and communities can generate energy with "micro-utilities" and how a home can become energy self-sufficient.
  • Food Self-Sufficiency and Local Food Systems. This segment focuses on finding food not dependent on a petroleum-focused system, including fertilizers and transportation, by using the abundant natural resources of the valley and knowledgeable local people to create food independence.
  • Community Exchange Systems. The presentation will talk about facing the situation where we all have less cash and can't get deeper into credit. It will include discussion of time banks and community currency.

The Green Expo includes many well-known organizations that have joined the green trend, including Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, Energy Trust of Oregon and Avista.

Details, including a list of vendors and presentation schedules, can be seen at

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at

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