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Off the Grid: A Case Study
Part 1

GBCI: 00900007825

This one hour movie explores the design and construction of an off the grid A-frame house in remote Washington.
Eligible for 1 CE HOUR.
  • 1 CE

  • LU/HSW

LEED version: v2009

Average: 3.4 (9 votes)


This one hour movie explores the design and construction of an off the grid A-frame house in remote Washington. We examine sustainable strategies, design team conflict, and rural vs. urban living. Can a family from urban Portland survive living off the grid with no running water, freezing temperatures, and the constant threat of forest fires and famine? Will the designer and contractor strangle each other or finish the house? The human interest story weaves together interviews with the owners, designer, and the construction team to provide an informative narrative on lessons learned during the process.

When you are done with this course, watch “Off the Grid, Part 2” to learn more about this project.


  1. Discuss the 2030 challenge
  2. Describe a net zero building
  3. List the benefits of wood products in this sustainable project
  4. Compare and contrast urban and rural living.
  5. Discuss the design challenges associated with an off the grid project


This course is a part of the following series:
Off the Grid: A Case Study

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Created by

GreenCE, Inc.
San Antonio, TX
United States

USGBC Education Partners are leaders and trusted voices and reputable providers of green building and sustainability education. Learn more

5 commentsLeave a comment

Entertaining, but should be categorized as "Beginner".

AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Partner, Fredette Architects, PLLC
Pro Reviewer

It is a sign of the times that this video adopts the popular entertainment genre, Reality TV and a docu-drama format. In 2014, this format is not widely accepted for educational purposes and merits further discussion -- including identification of a more precise target audience and appropriate learning level.

Rather than being labeled "Intermediate", the level of this particular video seems "Basic" due to production decisions such as:
• Only two subject matter experts, the architect and the unseen narrator
• Limited screen time devoted to the voices of the subject matter experts
• Lack of density in the delivery
• Predominantly True/False questions on the quiz.

Owner, USGBC Faculty, LEED BD+C, BREEAM Assessor, ERKE Sustainable Building Design Consultancy
Pro Reviewer

The sound and video are prepared very professionally, Congratulations! The details from construction phases and site are not so clear and videos from the construction details should have been shown more intensively. All said, the video is quite good.


As someone intending to be an architect, the old lady would be my worst nightmare. It's unfortunate that she bullied them into changing the design. You can really tell the difference in the maturity level of the architect and the self appointed contractor. He designed for them, she built for her. This is a good video to show the difficulties you encounter when building yourself.

GWS - Facilities Project Manager, Johnson Controls, Inc.

The video is entertaining and somewhat instructional on what not to do (i.e. charge in without a plan).

Speaking to the content of the video, as a 14 year veteran construction manager with a BS in Construction Management, the only key element that this group thought they could do without was a construction manager. Probably one of the most fundamentally flawed execution plans I've ever seen, it really made me want to shout at the screen "GO FIND SOMEONE WITH EXPERIENCE AND AT LEAST ASK THEM FOR ADVICE!!!" Even free advice is better than blind ignorance.

All-in-all, the video is good, but the content was a train wreck for a construction professional to watch.

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