Living simple is gaining ground, but taking up less of it, with the popularity of small homes on the rise. Homeowners, aspiring owners and industry leaders will have a chance to bring ideas and innovations together during the 2015 Build Small Live Large Summit next weekend.
Joan Grimm, cofounder of Portland Alternative Dwellings, said the summit is an opportunity to see what has been successful so far and what’s next on the horizon.
“Right now we’re in the position in the metro area where the type of housing stock available does not match what people are wanting,” Grimm said. “People are wanting to live in a smaller footprint. And they’re wanting also to live in a community.”
Build Small, Live Large summit
Friday, November 6
PSU Smith Center, 1825 SW Broadway, Portland
The Build Small Live Large summit, co-sponsored by Metro, offers a forum for solutions to these wants. Speakers will discuss the many forms smaller living spaces may take, including accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, cluster cottages, small house communities and tiny houses.
“The extreme version that seems to get a lot of media attention is the tiny house,” said Bryce Jacobson, a waste reduction planner at Metro. “They’re charming. It’s like living in a cuckoo clock.”
Jacobson said he likes to see how excited people get about the transformative process of moving to a small home.
“It makes you rethink what’s really important to you,” he said, adding that many folks “take it as kind of a personal challenge and a Zen sort of recasting of their life and redefining their relationship with stuff.”
He said it tends to refocus people’s energy on what’s really important in their lives.
“It's probably not their belongings,” Jacobson said.
Speakers at the summit will present their experiences with building and living in small homes, emerging trends in housing and space-efficient and sustainable design ideas, as well as net zero energy and water and strategies.
Jacobson explained that Metro got into the concept of compact housing when DEQ did a research project about five years ago which looked at different strategies to reduce the environmental footprint of a building – everything from resource-efficient framing techniques to energy-efficient insulation. But what research found, Jacobson said, was that the biggest impact came just from building a little bit smaller.
“When you build small,” Jacobson said, “not only does it save materials going into the building, but it also saves an incredible amount of energy, as well as materials, over the life of the building.”
The summit is 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 6. at the Portland State University's Smith Center. It will wrap up with a Best of Small Design Slam, where attendees can see examples of what others have done. However, activities will continue through the weekend with an Accessory Dwellings tour on Saturday and Tiny House Basics Weekend Workshop both Saturday and Sunday.
“There’s this great synergy that happens when everybody’s in the room, able to talk and answer questions,” Grimm said. “You’re not going to find any other event where this group of people is together in one place.”