Tuesday, September 30, 2008

zHome: The first zero-energy development in the nation.

Building Green is gaining much momentum these days in the industry, and is becoming common place in the Pacific Northwest. From LEED standards, to new marketplace products, to actual developments, we are becoming much more advanced and responsible in our practice. Often times though, you'll find just some basic tweaks to a project so that the builder can claim "building green". This is obviously not the case with LEED standards, as they review and investigate in order to reward a project with a certain level (gold, platinum, etc.) of certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Developed by USGBC, LEED addresses all building types and emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality. LEED is a practical rating tool for green building design and construction that provides immediate and measurable results for building owners and occupants.

One project that is not simply making small claims but really reaching to achieve a high set of standards, is zHome (zero energy homes) with their development in Issaquah. The force behind this project is Howland Homes, Port Blakely Communities, King County, the City of Issaquah, and various other partners. The below picture shows the design, depicting many advanced features that will seriously raise the building green bar.

A excerpt from the City of Issaquah website regarding this project follows:
"Construction starts today on the first multifamily, production housing project in the nation to use no more energy than it generates during the course of a year, resulting in a carbon neutral development. Located in the City of Issaquah, zHome will consist of 10 attached townhomes that use zero net energy, 60 percent less water, have clean indoor air and use only low-toxicity materials. zHome’s purpose is to demonstrate that homes that offer these types of cutting- edge environmental building principles are possible and scalable for mainstream housing production."

Take a look at the project website to learn what's possible these days...

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