What is the annual Build It Green! (BIG!) Home Tour?
Having started in 2002, each Build It Green! Home Tour offers a chance to view up close innovative remodeling and construction projects by local designers, homeowners and contracting firms in the Portland Metro Area.
The tour showcases ecoroofs, solar arrays, native landscaping, water conservation, energy efficiency, low impact development, salvaged and recycled materials and more. We strive to include at least one sustainable affordable housing project each year.
Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer, a contractor, a student, a homeowner, a renter, or simply interested in how to save resources, gather new design ideas or give salvaged materials new life, the tour homes will spark your imagination and provide resources.
Tour goers have said they attend the tour for networking, education, fun, construction ideas and to inform future home purchases.
What is the Information Fair?
The info fair is a free companion event hosted by green building showroom Green Depot in their open parking lot, 819 SE Taylor Street, Portland, OR 97214. It is not necessary to go on the tour to attend the info fair. The free fair is family-friendly fun with food and drinks available, raffles, music and booths featuring home products, services and non-profits. The retail showroom is open as well.
If you are a green building company, supplier or non-profit organization and are interested in an info fair booth contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the date of the Tour?
The tour date is traditionally the third or fourth Saturday in September depending on religious dates and other scheduled events. The 2012 BIG! Tour is Saturday, September 22, 2012.
Who organizes the Tour and Information Fair and who are the sponsors?
The annual City of Portland Build It Green! Home Tour is presented by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Tour sponsors are Metro, Energy Trust of Oregon, Solar Oregon, Oregon Home and the Bureaus of Development Services, Environmental Services and Water. The free Info Fair is hosted by Green Depot.
How do I know what projects are featured and their location?
The tour guidebook is your ticket, resource and map for the tour, available one month prior to the tour. The guidebook is sent to you on purchase of your ticket. For general location (no address) and green features check out the homes preview on the tour home page. Homes with wheelchair access are clearly marked in the guidebook, as well as those under construction. We recommend purchasing your guidebook in advance to read up on the tour homes and plan your route.
Is this a guided tour?
The tour is self-guided. You can start any time between 11a.m. and 5p.m. and finish at any tour stop on the map. Many tour-goers stop at the free Info Fair after the tour. We recommend going by bike, or mass transit. To maximize the numbers of tour stops in a limited time, we suggest car-pooling.
How many projects and what types of architecture are included?
Usually 20 to 25 new and remodeled homes are featured all over the city. It is unlikely that you’ll get to every home on the tour. Some sites have more than one unit open. Styles range from historic homes over fifty years old to cutting edge contemporary design, with every architectural style in between.
Are multi-family units allowed?
Yes, depending on the size and number of stories. High rise units are not eligible. Call 503-823-5431 for details.
How long has the tour been operating?
The first tour was in 2002. 2012 will be the 11th anniversary of BIG! Tour.
Why is the tour only one day?
The tour is limited to one day rather than a whole weekend to ease the strain on homeowners.
How do tour homeowners see the other tour stops?
Providing a private tour for homeowners is unfortunately beyond our scope. We do provide tour homeowners other tour contacts in the event they would like to network or plan their own site visits at a later time.
Where can I read about this year’s homes?
Check our tour home page for home previews.
Who will I see at the homes?
Homeowners/developers are expected to be present at their home along with their general contractor and sub-contractors to answer your questions and point out features. If there is a connection with a non-profit organization they are invited to be present to promote their programs. There are also volunteers at each home.
How can I nominate a project?
Home nominations (no fee to apply) are open now through the end of April each year. You'll need to create a PortlandOnline account to complete and submit the form.
What are the eligibility criteria?
We accept most kinds of residential projects for consideration—single and multi-family (no high-rise units), co-housing, lofts, and accessory dwelling units.
The project must be within Portland City Limits, designed for habitation, showcase green features and not be for sale.
Homes can be under construction at the time of the tour as long as the site is safe for tour goers.
The homeowner/developer must be available on the date of the tour, beforehand for a home visit and attend a mandatory home-owner orientation meeting a week before the tour.
How are the homes/projects selected?
Nominations are screened and information verified, then home visits are set up by Green Building Team members. Photos are taken at that time. When all homes have been visited an in-house selection committee made up of BPS staff and partners reviews the nominations and selects 20 to 25 projects. Successful nominees are notified by the end of June.
How many people does it take to put on the tour?
Volunteers are a vital part of the tour and info fair. It takes approximately 55 volunteers to staff the homes and info fair in two shifts. Volunteers are given a free guidebook to use either before or after their shift. Around five Planning and Sustainability staff work on the tour from May through September.
How do I sign up to volunteer?
All volunteers are given a free ticket/guidebook to use either before or after their shift.
What happens if there is rain?
The tour and info fair are held rain or shine. September events in Portland usually experience great weather, but of course occasional showers are not unusual. The info fair is under a large tent. Dress appropriately and bring shoes or boots that can easily slipped off at the homes. Tour tickets are non-refundable.
How much is a ticket?
Adult general admission: $15.00
Honored citizen (65 and up), student, bike, mass transit: $10.00
Children 13 and under: FREE
Tickets are non-refundable.
A limited number of free and discounted tickets are made available to non-profits.
Call 503-823-5431 to inquire about your organization.
We recommend purchasing your tourbook/ticket in advance to read up on the tour homes and plan your route.
Where do the ticket fees go?
The ticket fees cover each tour’s expenses and any residual is held over for the following year’s tour.
How many tickets are available?
We cap the tickets at 1,000 so there are no long lines at homes or over-crowding. Tickets have sold out nearly every year. Many tickets are complimentary for local nonprofits.
How do I purchase and receive my ticket?
Tickets go on sale online and in-person at Green Depot one month before the tour date.
Tickets purchased online in advance are mailed out at no extra charge.
Tickets purchased online one week before the tour date will be held at will-call at Green Depot, 819 SE Taylor Street, Portland, OR 97214 for pickup the day of the tour.
Wheelchair and equal access
Homes that have wheelchair access are clearly marked in the tour guidebook. The Info Fair is wheelchair accessible. To help ensure equal access to City Programs, services and activities, the City of Portland will reasonably modify policies/procedures and provide auxiliary aids/services to persons with disabilities. Call 503-823-4309, or by the Oregon Relay Service 1-800-735-2900 with such requests. For Helpful Tour Tips on maximizing your tour experience please click here.
Build it Green! is a self-guided tour of private homes. BPS and its sponsors are not responsible for the upkeep or maintenance of these properties. You may encounter conditions that pose a risk of injury, such as rough or wet walkways, steep stairs, low doorways, loose rugs or carpets, or other potentially hazardous conditions. By participating in the tour, you are assuming any risks of injury due to the conditions you may encounter while traveling to, or visiting homes, on the tour.
Who do I call for more info?
The Regional Green Building Hotline can answer tour and ticket questions and other green building inquiries 503-823-5431 or email@example.com.