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The Art of Sustainable Building in Seattle
The art of sustainable development starts by analyzing the building site and coming up with a site design that protects natural and other features that exist on the site. Builder Martha Rose elected to reuse a large percentage of the existing foundation from the existing 1940 duplex for their latest urban project City Cabins in Seattle. Retooling and reusing the existing foundation was key component in reducing pollution from construction activities by minimizing soil erosion, topology disturbance, waterway sedimentation and dust that would have taken place if they had elected to use traditional construction methods.
The three story homes are designed to take advantage of the views of Fisherman’s Terminal and the Olympic Mountains to the West while providing natural daylighting and privacy without feeling like you’re in an urban-fishbowl. The homes are slightly terraced off the street separated by an elevated sidewalk from street level. The terracing offers the City Cabin homeowners privacy from the pedestrian’s view while the top of terrace offer a level platform for sitting, greeting neighbors or just enjoying the view.
The raised sidewalk is a unique urban pattern that adds to the walk-ability of the North Queen Anne neighborhood, configuring to the natural terrain the walkway offer increased pedestrian safety from automobiles, view corridors and green planting strips that separate the sidewalk from the street.
City Cabins to Shine Brighter
Home builder Martha Rose, president of Martha Rose Construction in Seattle, is adding arrays of LED lighting to her latest project in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. The projects, City Cabins, are all-electric powered homes.
More lumens equals more light
Rose mentions “sustainable building is all about doing more using less.” This type of think has influential in their selection of light bulbs for the “Cabins.” It just makes sense to use more efficient bulbs that use less wattage even though the cost is greater but once you look at the whole profile or payback for a LED bulb compared to a standard incandescent bulb it makes more financial sense.
A typical incandescent bulb would take 60 watts to produce 800 lumens where a CFL bulb would take up to 15 watts and a LED would take up to 12 watts to produce 800 lumens. When searching for high efficient LED bulbs, at the top of the list, we found the CREE that would produce 950 lumens using only 9 watts of electricity, the bulb retails for $79.95.
As the popularity of LED lighting increases the price will start to come down along with the passing of the 2007 the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) that was signed into law. The Department of Energy (DOE) issued new energy efficiency standards for fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. It will be phased-in 2012 through 2014 (California will begin one year earlier starting January, 2011)
City Cabins will use both CFLs and the next generation LED lighting for their lighting solution of their new homes.
Award winning green home builder Martha Rose, president of Martha Rose Construction in Seattle, believes building a high-performance home you really have to pay attention to the small details.
At her current project, City Cabins in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, prior to installing the drywall Rose has a thermographic inspection by building performance consultant Tom Balderson.
Using an infrared camera they look check for cool spots in the exterior walls. This helps Rose determine if there is any air infiltration that needs to be sealed prior to drywalling and also as a quality control measure to make sure the insulation has been installed correctly.
After the drywall has been installed, taped and all the finished work has been installed Rose will have Balderson do a blower door test to look once again for any air leakage, the leaks will appear has as contrasting colors on the viewfinder of the infrared camera.
City Cabins are perhaps the most energy efficient spec-homes on the market today in the Pacific Northwest. The homes are slated for a mid-December completion. For more information contact Adrian Willanger, LEED AP. Or visit the website CityCabins.com.
Last month the Appraisal Institute published their green addendum which can be attached to any appraisal. The addendum won’t guarantee that the homeowner or builder will get their increased property value for the green features added but what is guaranteed is that it will at least be looked at.
The new addendum can be downloaded filled out and submitted as part of the appraisal to the lender. Some of the key points are to make sure that the energy saving features are listed accurately and if you can provide any records of energy production or savings these would be documents that should be included.
Any third party certifications (LEED, Energy Star, Built Green, Earth Advantage) documentation should also be included for review. Appraiser using the new addendums will be better equipped to compare like features and properties much easier when determining value.
Seattle builder Martha Rose mentions that she already filled out both the Appraisal Institutes’ Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum along with the High Performance Home Addendum from Earth Advantage filled out for her new homes, City Cabins. “I typically will include any third party energy estimated usage reports along with lots of photos of the construction methods we use.” “Typically we won’t get full credit for all the components that go into building a high-performance home but it’s a good start” comments Rose.
Once Martha Rose, president of Martha Rose Construction, learned about ecological benefits that are derived from the harvesting of western Juniper from Oregon’s high desert it was clear that this would be natural fit to use.
The juniper in 1934 barely covered 1 million acres in Central Oregon today they cover 6 million acres. The main concern with the growing juniper’s growing population is its thirst. Junipers pull moisture out of the ground all year long. Which results in the prairie grasses that provides food, shelter and erosion control don’t get enough water to survive. By thinning the junipers, mostly young trees, the underground wells are able to produce more water especially during the late season mid-July through September when the high desert really needs more water, helping to increase the spring output to 3-5 gallons per minute, which during the dry months is a lot of water.
Rose likes the juniper’s’ rustic characteristic, durability, its environmental credentials and thought it would add an element of authenticity to her City Cabins project in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. The juniper natural rot- and decay-resistances makes it an exceptional choice for decking, retaining walls, fencing and landscaping at City Cabins.
City Cabins are the newest next-gen high performance multi-green certified homes in Seattle are scheduled to be completed in December of 2011. For more information and availability visit CityCabins.com or contact Adrian Willanger 206 909-7536.
City Cabins –The Urban Hybrid
By merging the world of traditional architecture with leading-edge building science and hi-performance construction you get the new “urban hybrid” City Cabins in Seattle’s Queen Neighborhood. The unique design building combination is a pure comingling of the best of the past and the optimum of the next-gen building movement.
The “Cabins” are packed with smart design features that could easily go-unnoticed, yet these features are perfect solutions to enhance the occupant’s creature comforts and reduce yearly utility costs. The super-insulated well sealed homes our partnered with a high-efficient heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) that supplies the homes with fresh filtered-air into the living areas and bedrooms 24/7 while simultaneously exhausting the stale air. Workings in harmony with the HRVs are the Mitsubishi Mini-Split heating/cooling systems that provide zonal heating and cooling throughout the homes.
Strategic window placement increases the natural daylighting and breath-taking views of Fisherman’s Terminal, Salmon Bay and beyond to the Olympic Mountains. Incorporating a wide range of lifestyle components into every detail makes these home truly special from the all-electric systems, the use of unmatched re-claimed tongue groove wood planking, LED lighting, movable kitchen island are all part of the new “get-used-to-it must-haves” the new buyers are looking for.
Two of the last remaining defenses used to divert moisture penetration in new construction are the windows, doors and exterior cladding. The siding and windows are being completed this week at City Cabins in Seattle Washington.
The final windows are being installed this week completing the “lock up” phase. The selection of Serious Windows was made because of their overall thermal and acoustic performance.
Controlling rain water and moisture penetration is especially important when Seattleites experience seasonal rainfall and dampness without many sun breaks that would normally allow for installed materials periods to dry out. To mitigate these concerns, builder Martha Rose and her architectural team have designed a comprehensive building envelope, roof overhangs, advance sealing techniques, custom made stainless steel window pans all designed to help avoid water and or moisture infiltration.
Each exterior layer designed for a specific purpose; yet working together they provide an advantageous, long-term wall assembly that will aid in reducing long-term maintenance costs and increase the indoor air quality (IAQ) of the homes.
An important item to note is that during the construction of City Cabins it has been one of driest summer/fall seasons in recent Seattle history helping to avoid lengthy drying out periods between construction applications.
City Cabins are the latest high-tech high-performance homes built by Martha Rose Construction, conveniently located in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood with close proximity to the bustling South Lake Union neighborhood as well a short distance to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Fremont, Ballard and downtown Seattle.