Sustainable Strategies Abound in this Case Study House

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Feb 3, 2016 5:32:39 PM

A house in Bellingham, Washington, demonstrates innovative water and energy systems that meet the standards of the Living Building Challenge.

THE BIRCH CASE STUDY HOUSE was developed using the Living Building Challenge as a guide. The primary goal of this project was to implement numerous sustainable strategies, highlighting the successes and failures when designing, permitting and constructing Living Buildings.

To help realize the project, [bundle] design studio partnered with non-profits and building product manufacturers. Throughout construction, [bundle] hosted a workshop series with Sustainable Connections to present green materials and strategies to the local building community. [bundle] also partnered with Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) for the NextStep Homes program and with WSU to field test a CO2 heat pump that is used for domestic hot water and radiant floor heating.


NAME: Birch Case Study House, Bellingham, WA
BUILDER: Chris Tretwold, Tretwold Construction, LLC
ARCHITECT/DESIGNER: Dan Welch, [bundle] design studio
PHOTOS: [bundle] design studio

The Birch Case Study house has proved successful at demonstrating a number of pathways towards Living Buildings. Among the highlights, it is the first within the Bellingham city limits to choose not to hook up city water and sewer. Instead, the project achieves net-zero water usage through the use of onsite rainwater catchment, composting toilets and graywater reuse.

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Beauty and the Beach

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jan 29, 2016 3:19:37 PM

An 83-year-old beach house gets a deep energy retrofit, but retains the grace and beauty of the original home.

THIS 1932 HOME overlooks Truesdale Lake in Westchester County, NY. Once a popular gathering place, the structure had fallen into disrepair. Incorporating new and reclaimed materials, architect and builder Sylvain Côté has fully restored The Beach House for maximum comfort with a minimal carbon footprint. Completed in 2014, The Beach House is Energy Star Certified, with a HERS rating of 30 and LEED Platinum Certification of 90.

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Net Zero Neighborhood—Grand Award Winner

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jan 12, 2016 12:36:34 PM

The 42 homes in this Seattle micro-community are super efficient and solar ready. This project won top honors in our annual Green Home of the Year Awards for a reason.

THE RAINIER VISTA COMMUNITY, located in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood, began as a partnership between Dwell Development and the Seattle Housing Authority in 2010. Dwell Development’s owner, Anthony Maschmedt, committed to building 15 homes using green building techniques and high-performance technology that would help homeowners conserve resources and cut costs. The excitement and demand generated by the project led to an additional 36 homes over five years. The last home was completed and sold in July 2015.


Name: Rainier Vista Community, Seattle, WA

Developer: Keith Hammer, Dwell Development

Architect/Designer: Julian Weber, Julian Weber Architects

Builder: Anthony Maschmedt, Dwell Development

Interior Designer: Abbey Maschmedt, Dwell Development

Photos: Tucker English Photography

All 42 homes in the community are designed for zero-energy living and are 5-Star Built Green certified. This voluntary certification program, developed by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, establishes environmental standards for energy efficiency, water use and indoor air quality. Each home features solar-ready rooftop configurations, advanced framing, high-impact insulation, triple-glazed windows, radiant heat systems powered by tankless water heaters and heat recovery ventilation systems. The community also includes the Cork Haus, Seattle’s first speculative Passive House.

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Game-Changing Design

Posted by Juliet Grable

Nov 23, 2015 2:15:52 PM

Will the cookie-cutter McMansion give way to homes that are powered by renewable energy, reflect the environment and restore sites?

As important as energy efficiency is, it’s only one component of truly sustainable design. But other concerns are converging to drive a more holistic approach. Indoor air quality is one; resource conservation is another. Water is drawing up alongside energy as an urgent issue, as people are (finally) making the connection between water and energy use. Droughts in Texas and California are prompting change and opening up opportunities for graywater recycling, and demonstration homes that feature comprehensive water conservation alongside net-zero energy strategies are starting to trend. Onsite water harvesting and appropriate landscaping, including trends toward urban gardening and even animal husbandry—are becoming part of an integrated strategy that followers of permaculture have been promoting for decades.

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Designed for Flexibility

Posted by Green Builder Staff

May 26, 2015 2:52:56 PM

For this Portland, Oregon makeover, creating the perfect kitchen meant energy-efficient, customized design—with minimal waste.


THE KEY TO FITTING the perfect kitchen into this small 1940s home was flexibility, says Therese DuBravac, design consultant at Neil Kelly Design.

The original kitchen was a very tight space, but the 40-something chef-and-teacher couple has no children and plans to live in the house for the long term.

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