The following post is by Kathleen O'Brien:
It's taken awhile to go from touring green homes to actually living in one, but for Becky Chan, it's been well worth it. Chan has been blogging her two-year journey, and says she got hooked on the idea as a result of visiting "homes built with recycled or reclaimed materials to reduce waste, homes with green roofs and living walls to slow stormwater runoff and filter pollutants, and the first net-zero-energy house built in Seattle.”
Now, those who plan to partake of this year's Green Home Tour on April 27, co-produced by the NW EcoBuilding Guild and Built Green of King and Snohomish County, will get to see her "deep green" remodel.
Parie Hines, LD Arch, designed the remodel and was impressed by Chan's focus on combining deep green ambitions with "thrift." Hines conservatively estimates a final construction cost of $150 per square foot (the original goal was $135 per square foot), pointing out that the new remodel includes high quality (and expensive) windows and infrastructure, while keeping finishes and details simple (and less expensive).
Chan's "Blue View, Green Built" net zero energy remodel is one of several in the North Seattle tour quadrant, and includes SIPS construction (3 walls were replaced with SIPS), rainwater harvesting, natural materials, salvaged/reused materials, solar PV, ductless mini-split heating, triple glazed windows, and a heat pump water heater. The home is also an example of deconstruction.
After the tour, she wanted to learn more, so she joined the NW EcoBuilding Guild, the nonprofit that has organized the free tour for three years. She also attended a net zero energy workshop conducted by Sustainable Ballard where she met Ted Clifton, TC Legend Homes. Clifton had built the net zero energy house Chan had so admired in the 2011 tour. She eventually hired him to conduct the remodel. She then bought a home, with remodeling in mind, that was conveniently located to services she knew she would need, proactively reducing her carbon footprint.
For those responsible for programming, funding, or otherwise involved with green building education, the hope is that this education translates to implementation. Chan's deep green remodel is a great example of how this works.
Kathleen O'Brien is a long time advocate for green building and sustainable development since before it was "cool." She lives in a green home, and drives a hybrid when she drives at all. She continues to provide consulting on special projects for O'Brien & Company, the firm she founded over 20 years ago, and provides leadership training and mentoring through her legacy project: The Emerge Leadership Project. Her book "Green Home Primer" is apparently on Becky Chan's bed stand (No kidding!)
A compact, green-built “pod” home designed by Ann Raab of Greenpod Development of Port Townsend is open to the public at the GreenDepot site until April 29 from 10 am to 6 pm M-F, 10-5 on Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday. Workshops will be offered daily.
The pod was part of last weekend’s Green Home Tour sponsored by Northwest Ecobuilding Guild, featuring new and remodeled homes designed for low energy use and built with nontoxic materials.
Raab’s 450-square-foot pod is factory-built using all green products. It can be delivered to any city in Washington.
Greenpod’s Waterhaus model has a Kangen water system with adjustable pH for drinking and cleaning. It also has a waterfall and living wall.
Ann Raab said pods are meant to be low maintenance dwellings that are environmentally safe, healthy for occupants and “a joy to live in.”
The Waterhaus model uses multi-use furnishings, color, lighting and windows to make the living space feel larger. The waterfall and living wall are sculpted from metal by industrial artist Ray Hammar of Sequim. Michael Hamilton of Port Hadlock made the tables and benches. Seth Rolland of Port Townsend created the bathroom vanity from rock and fir. Wall textures are applied by artist Gail Miller of Whidbey Island. The interior is decorated with an exclusive line of organic fabrics by Suzanne DeVall.
The pods are built by Greg Barron of Greenpod Builders.
They are built to meet King County’s requirements for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) and are aimed at people who want to downsize, age in place or care for family member in a separate unit. They also work as cabins, second homes, home offices and small commercial buildings. Pods can be stacked and configured to create communities. More information is at (800) 569-0831 or GreenPod.us.
September and October are always busy months in Seattle's green/sustainable scene. This fall, however, there seems to be a wealth of tours of really interesting projects.
One of the most interesting opportunities is the chance to tour Issaquah's zHome project. Issaquah says zHome is the country's first net zero energy multifamily
Free tours will be held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. until October 30.
- Home Builders Association of Kitsap County Headquarters
Across the water in Bremerton, the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County has improved their headquarters in an effort to create a live demonstration of energy efficiency upgrades for builders and homeowners. The project used six strategies including better air sealing, adding more insulation and adding new efficient lighting to upgrade the space. Tours feature first-hand techniques on saving energy and lowering utility bills. Tours will be held hourly on Sunday, October 23 and Saturday, October 29 from 12 to 4 p.m. Tours are at 5251 Auto Center Way, Bremerton.
- Seattle Design Festival
If you can't wait and want to see something now, I suggest you head on over to the Seattle Design Festival's website here. Though some tours have passed, a
However the one not to miss is Saturday's grand opening of the Brightwater Center. It looks like the official Seattle Design Festival tour is sold out! However, the grand opening celebration is free, open to the public and features plant tours so you can still see the space if you're interested. More info here.
A few years ago during an interview, I spoke with a source who told me about something called "passivhaus." I remember listening attentively and I remember being surprised and impressed with the ideas behind the method, specifically the tight, efficient envelope it supports. I can't recall who my source was. But I do remember getting this Feb. 2009 notice that the Passive House Institute U.S. was going to be speaking in Seattle. In fact, I was registered but did not attend.
Now, almost two years later, the first passive houses are completing construction. One of them is currently located in a very public space - at the parking lot of the Phinney Neighborhood Center. TheJohnson Braund Design Group. Turns out Joe was at that passive house meeting and was so inspired, he became a passive house consultant. Then, he chose to build mini-b as a demonstration project to show others just how cool the system is.
Mini-B is a 300-square-foot dwelling designed to meet the city's requirements for a backyard cottage on a single-family lot. It has a bathroom, kitchenette and sleeping area. The project will have a grand opening at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15. Then, it will be open for weekend open houses starting the weekend of Jan. 29 and lasting for six months. After that, it will be sold. Partners in the project include South Seattle Community College and the Phinney Neighborhood Center. After paying back development costs, any profits will go to those partners and to a nonprofit housing organization, Giampietro said. The goal is provide exposure for the method. Giampietro thinks similar units could be developed for $80,000 each and thinks it has potential for affordable housing units. Weekday tours will be available by appointment.
Giampietro said there another passive house in South Seattle is nearing completion, and that there are 12 others in the works in the area. He said there are about 40 passive house consultants in the area. There's also this organization - Passive House Northwest - which holds really fascinating conferences from time to time on the passive house method.
Last week, I toured the University of Washington's Paccar Hall at the Foster School of Business. I'm not an architectural critic so I won't pass judgement on the space itself (Lawrence Cheek was on the tour, so you might look forward to his take sometime). I will say the space itself almost tempted me to go back to school.
I wrote about the building in the DJC here. But what I didn't write about was the way it made me feel.
Often, I tour a space and listen to the words of the architect. They speak about aesthetics, connections and a building's grand goals. In Paccar Hall, I didn't so much need to hear Mark Reddington of LMN speak about what the building was meant to do --- as I needed to look around and see everything he was talking about playing out in person.
Creating space that fostered random conversations between people? Check. Creating space with lots of nooks and comfortable areas for people to rest and do their own thing both indoors and out? Check. Creating space that felt like a broader piece of the UW's campus, rather than a segmented section of learning? Check. This is a building that was crawling with students interacting at all different levels, I'm guessing not all from the business school.
The sustainability features were also interesting, the most obvious one being daylit space. I've been in a lot of buildings that are "daylit" and sure, you see the outside and notice that you're getting natural light. But in Paccar Hall, the daylighting wasn't just a feature. It was the building and screamed for your attention. Having said that, I do wonder about the efficiency of a building that is over 45 percent glass. Architects on the tour assured me that numerous strategies had been put in place to take care of the solar load - very visible interior sunshades, exterior sunshades and glazing. I'd like to see the concrete operational numbers for the first few years to see how much energy it saves (it is LEED gold, after all).
The building has a number of other green features - it saved trees on the property, has automatic lighting controls and displacement ventilation. A planned green roof was value engineered out, though a decorative green space lines the outdoor terrace.
I've been thinking about the building and it raises a question for me: is it more sustainable to create a building that people love and will use thoroughly, or should teams concentrate on the green credentials?
In a perfect world, all green/sustainable/LEED certified buildings would also make you want to stay inside them. But the thing is, they don't. Often, a LEED building feels just like any other building with the addition of that familiar plaque by the door. Personally, I wanted to spend more time in Paccar Hall. The more I digest this space, the more impressed I am. People end up loving buildings like this. And in 30 years, they won't let it get torn down - a stark contrast to the original 1960s business school building just visible in the right corner of the first picture below that people can't wait to demolish.
Can we say that for all the "green" buildings out there?
Here are a number of pictures I took from the tour. For more check out my Facebook fan page.
This post is by Jared Silliker, a new contributor to the Building Green Blog.
Want some inspiration in our current housing crunch? I’ve had the good fortune to tour a couple Central District projects designed and built by the architect/developer duo of Brad Khouri and Graham Black. And the back stories are just as impressive as
To start, both Khouri, who runs b9 architects, and Black, owner of gProjects, bicycle to all their projects and strive for designs that integrate with the neighborhood’s character and scale. They are big fans of the design review process, which they say encourages better and more profitable projects.
While Khouri designs efficient and smart use of space for these human-scale homes, Black concentrates on salvaging building materials for reuse. A couple projects, for instance, use reclaimed wood from old Fort Lewis barracks that dates to the 1930s. And Black employs all his own builders in order to maintain quality and pay competitive rates. The final result are modern homes that fit and work--efficient on resources and high on function and style.
And with the market bearing down, the best inspiration may be that the homes are selling. There’s plenty of evidence to build green, but clear market success will most quickly drive more quality sustainable projects.
AIA Seattle is hosting a case study and tour tomorrow at the Urban Canyon (pictured above), Khouri’s and Black’s latest project at 19th and Pine, which is the first 5-Star Built Green multi-family development in Seattle. The Alley House, a Madison Valley urban infill residence seeking LEED Platinum, by Urbanmix and Cascade Built, will also be highlighted. Check out www.aiaseattle.org as space is limited.
If you think solar doesn't work in Washington, a tour tomorrow is itching to prove you wrong.
The Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club invites you to tour a home tomorrow that is heated by solar power. It also happens to be owned and lived in by a politician - Steve Bernheim of the Edmonds City Council.
Eric Teegarden of Sunergy Systems, the engineer who designed the installation, will lead participants along the tour. Meet at 1:30 p.m. at 21221 Pioneer Way, Edmonds 98026, to attend the tour. Call (425) 771-7715 with any questions.
RED ALERT! Hanford tours are open for registration and they are going FAST! If the idea of touring Hanford has been moldering around in your head, wait no more! The Department of Energy just announced 48 Hanford tour dates in April, July, August and September. Registration opened at midnight last night…. And they're already booked until the August session. These go fast!
Tours last five hours and run three times a day at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., and 11:30 a.m. They’re free, though participants must be 18 with valid identification to attend.
For more information or to sign up RIGHT NOW, press here .