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Peter and Sherry Lee stand in front of their energy-efficient, green-certified home, which was featured on last fall's Green and Solar Home Tour. This year's tour is Saturday, Oct. 1. - Bob Pennell / Mail Tribune photo

Touring the green

Dan Jovick isn't a big fan of assigning the term "green," with its elitist connotation, to describe what is simply smart building.

"Things are getting more affordable," says the Ashland contractor. "It's just getting more and more attainable for everybody."

Peter and Sherry Lee didn't need to mull over Jovick's reputation for energy-efficient, eco-friendly homes — he's their son-in-law. But the retirees from Connecticut didn't have a fortune to spend, either.

Constructed for about $175 per square foot, the Lee's 2,087-square-foot home on East Medford's Windsong Way numbered among the "affordable" homes on last year's Rogue Valley Green and Solar Tour. Typically, homes that meet the Lees' level of eco-certification tend to be higher-end, says Fred Gant, Southern Oregon builder outreach specialist for Earth Advantage, a nonprofit education and certification agency for the Northwest's construction industry and host of the annual home tour.

For this year's event, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, participants will travel to the Upper Rogue area and tour a new chiropractor's office and three homes, two of which are certified at Earth Advantage's platinum level, says Gant. The tour is limited to 120 people; preregistration is required.

Completed in August 2010, the Lees' house is the only residence in Medford with a gold rating from LEED, to the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

"Dan builds a house very air-tight," says 65-year-old Peter Lee, explaining that much of the home's energy efficiency comes from higher-rated insulation, more conscientious sealing and incorporating ductwork within the home's insulated space, which conserves 20 to 25 percent of the heating and cooling system's energy, says Jovick.

An air exchanger, along with ceiling fans, freshen the atmosphere in an otherwise draftless dwelling. However, the Lees use upper-story windows to cool their house on summer mornings, rather than turning up the air-conditioner. The southern exposure helps warm the house in winter.

"We like it because it's very bright," says Sherry Lee, 64.

The Lees' Asian-themed decor of plain pottery, paper parasols and stylized prints depicting ocean waves, cherry blossoms and traditional Japanese garb impart airiness and simplicity. Bamboo flooring is not only in keeping with the interior design but a renewable, eco-conscious material.

Albeit on the small side, the Lee residence fits right into the subdivision off east Medford's Calle Vista Drive. No futuristic dome, the abode owes much of its "green" persona to otherwise understated or hidden characteristics that exceed local building standards and are verified by Earth Advantage.

President of the Home Builders Association of Jackson County's Green Building Council, Jovick combines maximum energy efficiency and savings for the minimum cost to homeowners, say the Lees.

"It's really unassuming, but it's extremely high-performing," says Jovick of his in-laws' house.

Energy-efficient appliances, compact-fluorescent lighting and paints containing low levels of volatile organic compounds round out the main eco-friendly features inside. A solar water heater on the roof and drought-tolerant landscaping with a "rain garden" play to the natural environment outside.

Another green practice that last year's tour participants didn't see was Jovick's efforts to recycle or otherwise divert 75 percent of the construction waste. Drywall was broken down on site and tilled into the soil, says Jovick. Precise planning and ordering minimized scrap wood to be recycled by disposal companies. One of the largest sources of unrecyclable refuse is packing materials that come with appliances and light fixtures, he adds.

Jovick has built fewer than 10 new homes in the area but has remodeled and retrofitted about twice that number for energy efficiency. His website is www.jovickbuilt.com.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email slemon@mailtribune.com.

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