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December 16, 2015
New Rainier Vista — a community of 42 sustainable, market-rate houses in Columbia City — has been completed and all the units have been sold.
Seattle-based Dwell Development built New Rainier Vista in stages over five years on land it purchased from Seattle Housing Authority. The site is at Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Oregon Street.
Dwell worked with JW Architects to design the units and Dwell was the landscape architect. Evergreen Certified was the third-party energy verifier.
The houses are certified 5-Star Built Green, which is a program that sets standards for energy efficiency, water use and indoor air quality.
They are designed so solar panels can be installed, allowing them to generate as much or more energy than the occupants will need.
The houses also have advanced framing, high-impact insulation, triple-glazed windows, tank-less on-demand hot water, radiant heating systems and heat-recovery ventilation systems.
New Rainier Vista includes Dwell's first Passive House and two houses that are clad in cork. Dwell said one of the cork-covered houses is the first spec house in Seattle to be certified “net energy positive,” meaning it will create more energy through solar panels than it needs.
The two- and three-story houses range from 1,500 to 2,200 square feet, and each has a different design.
The first phase was finished in 2010 and sold for prices in the low- to mid-$400,000s, said Anthony Maschmedt, principal with Dwell, which was founded in 2005. As the economy got better, prices rose and the latest sales were in the mid-$600,000s.
“I think the market is incredibly awesome for these types of homes,” Maschmedt said. “We can't build them fast enough.”
All but one sold early in construction, and Maschmedt attributes that to being in a “cool, hip, happening neighborhood” with light rail two blocks away, as well as interesting design, good finishes, and the economic benefits of sustainable construction.
The average heating bill for these houses is about $45, he said, and some owners sell extra electricity to the grid. Six buyers have installed solar panels.
The houses cost more to build than traditional ones and the prices are a little higher but Maschmedt said, “We take less of a margin than most builders because we believe in what we are doing.”
He said he believes sustainable houses will become a status symbol for people, much like three-car garages, wine cellars and large spa bathrooms.
People will say “Look how healthy my home is, look how low my carbon footprint is, look how much (energy) I am putting back on the grid,” he said.
Maschmedt said mass market developers aren't building green enough — if at all — because it takes more work and effort. Instead they are building to code, which he said is “the worst house you can build and legally get away with it.”
Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.