Local vineyard becomes first in the world to have 'living building'

(KTVL/Mike Marut)

For the past four years, Cowhorn Vineyard has worked toward becoming a 'living building' as certified by The Living Building Challenge - now, it's the first winery to earn the title in the world.

As of April 25th, their tasting room reached that designation by meeting all seven requirements listed by LBC. Two of the milestones require the tasting room to be zero-waste in terms of water use and produce more energy than it uses.

"Right now we're producing about 190% of what we use so we're well off the grid [over the past year]," Bill Steele, the co-owner of Cowhorn, said. "Each of these faucets over a 20 year period will save about 5000 gallons compared to a conventional faucet."

Originally, the energy produced went to the tasting room and then back into the grid. Now, that extra 90% of energy will go towards the other three buildings on the property: the office, winery and residence.

"We will not be off the grid, but certainly it is going to reduce my energy bill," Steele joked.

Cowhorn's tasting room is only one of 19 buildings in the world to be a "Living Building" and one of 20 projects across the globe. Steele is especially proud of the fact 65 southern Oregon contractors came together to construct the building.

"This building was not built in Portland, this building was not built in Napa, it was built here by us," Steele said. "I think that we, as a region, should take pride in the skills these [sub-contractors] brought to the table."

With all these certifications under the tasting room's belt, it's built to last.

"It's a very clean building, and again, that's been tested numerous times over the last year, so we feel like the building is alive," Steele said. "It's going to change visually from the outside, not the inside."

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