Issaquah, WA Zero Energy Demonstration Project

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Issaquah, WA, US

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Type: Program

Status: Adopted

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The City of Issaquah, in partnership with Port Blakely Communities, is seeking to build a groundbreaking, cutting edge, attached residential green building demonstration project which, at completion, will be one of the most innovative green housing projects in the Pacific Northwest. The project will involve the design, construction, and sale of approximately 10 attached residential homes, built to an extremely green standard. Land and permitting costs will be significantly reduced as a means to underwrite builder risks associated with the project. A major regional marketing and education program (led by the City) will be included as part of the project.

Project Vision
The core goal of this proposed project is to significantly accelerate highly green, energy efficient development throughout the region, by demonstrating advanced, yet practical, green building design and technologies to the public, architects, and developers. This project will demonstrate the feasibility of, and significant latent demand for, affordable, highly sustainable homes. It will create a pathway to more sustainable development which is revolutionary - rather than incremental - in scope. It will serve as a replicable model for the future of mainstream production residential housing which can truly achieve the challenging, but achievable, environmental goals of the City and region.

Detailed Project Description
The project involves the planning, design, construction, marketing, and sale of 10 attached residences that incorporate the following design benchmarks:

1. Zero net energy usage; i.e., project uses no more energy than it generates over the course of the year.
2. Home operations carbon dioxide (global warming gas) generation neutral on an annual net basis. Goal achieved through on site energy generation, or, if necessary, through local energy generation (such as nearby wind turbines or heating energy exchange with nearby use). Carbon dioxide generation during construction process minimized to the greatest extent feasible, and offset through tree planting within the City.
3. 50% reduction in water use compared to average residential use within the City.
4. High percentages of materials which are:
a. salvaged and reclaimed
b. recycled content
c. regionally produced
d. low toxicity
e. manufactured using practices that enhance social, economic, environmental health and safety wellbeing of employees
f. third party certified, such as Greenseal, FSC, Cradle to Cradle™ etc.
5. Minimum 90% diversion of all construction related debris through waste prevention, reuse, and recycling
6. Extreme low toxicity, properly ventilated, and American Lung Association Healthy Home (or equivalent) certified.
7. Highly durable and low maintenance.
8. Located within ¼ mile of a major transit hub.
9. Located within the urban growth area.
10. Stormwater impacts reduced through low impact development strategies such as green roofs and rainwater reuse.
11. Materials and labor practices examined for social equity, and which encourage local living economies.
12. Built Green 5 star certified.

It is expected that the project will achieve all green benchmarks. Rather than retrofitting an existing standard building design and adding green elements, the project will incorporate whole systems design to achieve the green benchmarks, taking a fresh perspective from the ground up. At the same time, the project will utilize existing, reasonably conventional construction methods and technologies, aimed at market replicability.

The project will be an educational and awareness building catalyst to foster market transformation through its design, construction and opening to the public. It will include open book accounting. The project would include a three month public open house demonstration period, with tours given, and an extensive on site education program, including signage, wall cutaways, etc.. The extent of the education program will be contingent on the degree of funding available.

The project will be aimed at the mainstream market. Rather than replicating the 2600 square foot average new home size in King County, the project is expected to include homes ranging from 500 to 1700 square feet. It is recognized that achieving the green benchmarks will cost more on a per square foot basis. Therefore, the target home sales prices could be 20% greater than the average sales prices for similar sized new homes within King County. For example, the average townhouse price in King County in 2006 was $354,900 – therefore, the target sales price for project townhouses would be $425,800.

This project is all the more compelling because of the public-private partnership which has come together to build it. The City of Issaquah is known throughout the Pacific Northwest for its effective, innovative green building program, which has resulted in many hundreds of Built Green 4 star certified homes, 5 LEED certified buildings, and the Built Green Idea House. King County has historically provided regional leadership in furthering green building through programs such as Built Green. The King-Snohomish County Master Builders Association has diligently and effectively developed the Built Green program over the last 7 years into one of the premier green building programs nationwide. The Washington State University Energy Office is known nationally for its research in solar energy and indoor health/moisture control, and has produced one of the most aggressive energy codes in the country. We anticipate as the project continues, it will attract other partners of similar caliber. In particular, partnership with a national level program, such as the Clinton Climate Initiative, could be a means to significantly raise the visibility of the project.