Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

The essence of 'Quintessence'

Home sets a new standard for sustainability at this year's Street of Dreams

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The 6,275-square-foot 'Quintessence' home at the NW Natural Street of Dreams in West Linn has all the luxury one could imagine, but what makes it special is its commitment to sustainability. REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Solar panels on the roof of 'Quintessence' are projected to provide 100 percent of the home's electricity, thus making it a 'net zero' property.“Quintessence” is defined as “the most perfect or typical example of quality or class.”

It is, then, a word that might be associated with any of the five luxury homes on the 63-acre property just outside West Linn that is playing host to the 2016 NW Natural Street of Dreams. But only one of the homes is actually named “Quintessence,” and what makes it truly special might surprise you.

The single-story, 6,275-square-foot home stands at the cutting edge of sustainability and is on track to be the largest home in Oregon to earn the coveted “platinum” rating from the nonprofit Earth Advantage.

“The house is incredibly sustainable,” says Peter Brown, director of building certifications at Earth Advantage, who adds that Quintessence will likely be the only Street of Dreams home to obtain the platinum rating in 2016.

The 41st annual NW Natural Street of Dreams, which opened Saturday and runs through Aug. 28, is expected to draw 50,000 visitors to Tumwater at Petes Mountain. A visit to the property at the intersection of Petes Mountain Road and Schaeffer Road reveals a set of massive luxury homes — each priced between $3 million and $5 million.

Open to the public from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, the home show allows attendees to tour what is thought to be the “cream of the crop” in home design, all in a rural setting that offers dramatic views of Mount Hood, Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens.

Stafford Land Company is the lead property developer for the 2016 Street of Dreams, and Quintessence itself was built by Geoff Bourgeois, Gordon Root and Rick Waible — the latter of whom serves as a principal and founder of Stafford Land Company.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Builder Rick Waible looks out at the property surrounding his Street of Dreams home as he describes the 'drip' irrigation system that uses recycled rainwater to hydrate roots from below ground.REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The shower in the 'Quintesssence' home is controlled by this computer system. According to Brown, the home’s impressive sustainability features center largely on the duct work.

“It starts with the furnaces and all the duct work being inside a conditioned space,” Brown says. “Most of the time, they’re in a garage or attic. This house does not do that; this house has all the ducts inside a conditioned area, which makes the house so much healthier.”

In building terms, "conditioned spaces" are the areas of a home where people actually live, while "unconditioned spaces" are still part of the home but generally remain unoccupied. Staying away from unconditioned spaces like an attic or garage — the ladder being “one of the biggest sources of pollution in a house,” according to Brown” — keeps the air far cleaner as it circulates through the home.

“Having the ducts inside, we’re proud of that,” Waible says. “Ranch homes are just almost impossible to do this in.”

The home’s exceptionally high-efficiency standards also apply to water.

“There’s a 10,000-gallon onsite water storage (system) for collecting rain water and infiltrating back into the soil,” Brown says. “It’s just an incredible way to replenish ground water, to make use of rain water collected from the roof.”

That system will be used to supply both the irrigation system and various water features around the home, thus eliminating the need for an additional water source for “the majority of the year,” according to Erin Bledy, marketing and event manager for New Home Realty.

“On this hill, it was such a fight for water that we almost didn’t get the project approved,” Waible says. “Neighbors were just rampaging against more houses and more wells, because it’s a limited water district up here. It was a good-faith promise to neighbors: ‘If we’re going to make mansions, we’ll try not to be water hogs.”

The home's “drip” irrigation system plays right into that promise. Using the 10,000-gallon rain harvesting system as its primary source, the irrigation system will dole out drips of water below the ground, thus eliminating the risk of evaporation.

“Basically what you’re doing is watering the roots from down below, instead of misting and spraying your water up in the air and letting it evaporate before it even hits,” Waible says. “There’s a bunch of lines under there, five inches down, and it keeps the soil moist enough that you don’t have to spray water everywhere.”

Poke your head back above ground and you might notice a set of large solar panels on the roof of the home. That’s just another feature that gave Quintessence such a high sustainability rating.

“(The home) will use over 13,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year,” says Keith Knowles, a regional sales manager at SolarCity. “The solar we installed on the roof will provide 100 percent of that annual load. So it’s a ‘net zero.’ I think it’s the first net-zero home on the Street of Dreams; it’s quite impressive.”

Patrick Malee can be reached at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


What: 41st Annual NW Natural Street of Dreams

When: Saturday, July 30 to Sunday, Aug. 28

Where: Tumwater at Petes Mountain, located at the intersection of Petes Mountain Road and Schaeffer Road in West Linn

Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Tickets: $17, available online at streetofdreamspdx.com or until 7:30 p.m. daily at the show site; kids 10 and younger get in free.

Details: Tumwater at Petes Mountain features five luxury homes, each between 5,000 and 8,000 square feet and priced between $3 million and $5 million. The 63-acre property includes a vineyard, barrel house and views of Mount Hood, Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens.

More info: www.streetofdreamspdx.com