View Haus 5 from the front. (Credit: Aaron Leitz Photography)
The apparently insatiable appetite for new residential construction in and around Seattle provokes some environmental questions about the construction itself. So, we were curious: How much of the building boom is green? How deep a green is it? Is there a difference in market-rate and non-profit affordable housing? Does enhanced design and energy efficient building methods lead to measurable carbon reduction?
Three neighborhoods and a dozen interviews later, we found some answers, a broader definition of “sustainability” and a wide range of opinions. Part one in the series takes a look at market-rate housing; and part two at affordable, non-profit built housing.
First stop, the Northwest Ecobuilding Guild. At a “green building slam” for architects and ecobuilders to showcase their finest designs, net zero energy homes, high performing town houses, and sustainable make-overs were the buzz from Puget Sound to Yakima. Environmentally certified homes in King County represent an estimated 30 to 35 percent of the market. In Seattle, it's as high as 45 percent, according to Green Works Realty's Ben Kaufman, the man behind environmental certification check boxes in the Northwest Multiple Listing service.
View Haus 5, a quintuplet of townhouses nestled in a 40 by 120 foot lot currently on the market in Seattle's Madison Valley, was recognized by Northwest Ecobuilding Guild for “pushing the envelope” with a lower carbon footprint, thermal comfort and a capacity for cheaper, cleaner energy bills.
Martha Baskin is an environmental reporter, whose work on the subject began with a project for the King Conservation District. Green Acre Radio was born shortly afterward. Her work is currently supported by the Human Links Foundation. She was one of the founding reporters for Pacifica's Free Speech Radio News and has been a contributor to the National Radio Project's Making Contact.