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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Resilient Ranch: Spray Foam Insulation Adds Lasting Value to this HOTY Award Winner

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Feb 1, 2016 12:03:00 PM

Water, food security and land stewardship are just as important as energy independence for this Texas ranch house, a winner in this year's Green Home of the Year Awards.

FAMILY AND COMMUNITY are the focus of this ranch, creating a space where the homeowners could age in place surrounded by family, food and the Texas countryside. Nestled on 100 acres in Texas Hill Country, this artist’s compound is a colorful gem of self-sufficient living and connection with nature.

In the past few years, Texas has been plagued with drought and wildfire; the homeowners built this passive solar home in response to the changing landscape. A preliminary Wildfire Defense assessment was incorporated into the building site to minimize risk of loss.

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Eco-Village of 18 Homes Pushes Limits of Efficiency

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jan 30, 2015 11:01:00 AM

The one- and two-story residences have small footprints and range from 1,000 to 1,900 square feet. All are net-zero energy, LEED Platinum and Energy Star-certified.

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Sustainable Building Blocks

Posted by Sarah Lozanova

Oct 24, 2014 11:35:58 AM

Lighter than concrete, these blocks also have much better insulating qualities.

WHEN MR. WILSON approached Rob Smith, president of e2 Homes, about building a water-efficient, net-zero energy home with no drywall or wood on the first floor for one-third less than another builder’s bid, e2 Homes rose to the challenge. The 4,300-square-foot home incorporates Aercon aerated autoclaved concrete (AAC) blocks, which provide both structure and insulation.

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On the Edge

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Aug 22, 2014 4:56:41 PM

UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES, it would be hard to imagine a home on this site, high atop a cliff, surrounded by breathtaking views. But neither this home, known as the Zero Energy Idea House, nor its
architect, are of the average variety.

“It’s self-evident that this design is saying ‘I’m a different kind of house,’” says architect David Clinkston. “That was the intention—that you see the green roofs, PV panels, solar hot water panels and vertical axis windmill. These are all visible from the road. A ‘green wall’ at the main entrance (to reduce afternoon solar gain) is another clue that all is not ‘normal’ with this house.” The wall is a galvanized steel grid that will provide privacy when vines grow over it.

Not every aspect of the home’s infrastructure is obvious, of course. The structural  insulated panel (SIP) structure sits atop concrete grade beams that thrust back into the steep slope, and the below-grade wall at the back of the house was poured into ICFs.

The house is heated with a Warmboard radiant floor system—wood panels coated with reflective aluminum.

“That aluminum skin is thick,” Clinkston says. “with grooves that direct the heat exactly where you want it.”

Advanced Engineering
The architect took the owner’s interest in “seeing the bones” of the home seriously, specifying a steel frame as the carriage for the SIPs.

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