Tag Archives: Green events in the Seattle area

More training needed to harness the value of green

The following post is by Kathleen O’Brien:

Last month in the DJC Green Building Blog, I discussed the smart move local leaders are making to help monetize social and environmental benefits available from real estate investment in new Living Buildings.  But getting true value out of existing buildings built to more established green building standards can still be a challenge.

Even when major multiple listing services (MLS) incorporated environmental/green (e-cert) checkboxes were introduced for existing green homes in 2008 — and this region was the first in the nation to do so — the appraiser would often end up valuing the home just as they would any other home.   So the added effort, and financial premiums invested in the home, would not be acknowledged. What a disincentive!

Two things were still needed to move the needle— credible data on the premiums for green buildings, and high quality education to produce appraisers competent in this building type. Not surprisingly, our region has been the first to coherently address these needs.

The Green Building Value Initiative — a collaborative effort of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild, Built Green, Earth Advantage, and the Cascadia Green Building Council (GBC) — worked together between 2007-2009 hiring appraiser consultants to produce the first credible analysis identifying premiums for commercial buildings and green homes. Researchers were able to analyze green home sales because of the e-cert boxes on MLS forms. The resulting report and case studies for the residential sector are readily available from Earth Advantage Institute or SEEC LLC.  The resulting report for the commercial sector is available from the Cascadia GBC.

SEEC and Earth Advantage are also addressing the second need head on for the residential sector. Both offer highly respected appraisal education.  As a result there are now practicing appraisers that understand green building certifications and can effectively appraise homes that have earned them.

ZHome, a 10-unit townhouse development in Issaquah, was designed to be the country’s first net zero energy multifamily project.

True story: Fiona Douglas-Hamilton, principal of SEEC, reports that the homeowner of a Built Green 5-star home (the highest certification level in that program), hoping to refinance, recently met with an appraiser to get their home valuated.  As advised by SEEC, the homeowner had prepared a packet to give the appraiser.  Upon review, the appraiser declined the job, saying she was not knowledgeable enough about Built Green. The Appraisal Management Company (AMC) then made contact with SEEC, which maintains a list of appraisers who have completed their continuing education courses on valuing green homes.  The homeowners were able to get what they needed.

But appraisers are not the only sector needing information for green homes to be valued correctly.  What if our Built Green home example had been for sale?  It is the rare real estate broker who understands how to list correctly, let alone sell, this property type.  With the recent McGraw Hill report estimating green building market share rising to 38% by 2016, we need educated brokers.  There are, frankly, lots of courses for brokers on marketing green real estate and green building in general, but brokers still need something to help them prepare a green and/or energy efficient home properly for its appraisal — a hurdle every property needs to clear.  There’s a new course launched this month that SEEC  has created specifically for this purpose: Appraising Green and ENERGY STAR Homes: How Agents Affect the Process.

This coming fall the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild’s Olympia Chapter will be conducting a Green Valuation Symposium under the Chapter’s Vision2Action Series.  Intended as a follow-up to a series of green valuation roundtables held in Washington and Idaho last year under the sponsorship of the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes program, participants will develop action plans to resolve issues identified during the roundtables.

For someone who’s been in the green building arena for nearly 30 years, it’s a delight to see  the “links” in the green building market chain starting to get fixed.

Kathleen O’Brien is a long time advocate for green building and sustainable development since before it was “cool.” She lives in a green home, and drives a hybrid when she drives at all. She continues to provide consulting on special projects for O’Brien & Company, the firm she founded over 20 years ago, and provides leadership training and mentoring through her legacy project: The Emerge Leadership Project.


Get a glimpse of green ‘pod’ home

A compact, green-built “pod” home designed by Ann Raab of Greenpod Development of Port Townsend is open to the public at the GreenDepot site until April 29 from 10 am to 6 pm M-F, 10-5 on Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday. Workshops will be offered daily.

The pod was part of last weekend’s Green Home Tour sponsored by Northwest Ecobuilding Guild, featuring new and remodeled homes designed for low energy use and built with nontoxic materials.

Raab’s 450-square-foot pod is factory-built using all green products. It can be delivered to any city in Washington.

Greenpod’s Waterhaus model has a Kangen water system with adjustable pH for drinking and cleaning. It also has a waterfall and living wall.

Ann Raab said pods are meant to be low maintenance dwellings that are environmentally safe, healthy for occupants and “a joy to live in.”

The Waterhaus model uses multi-use furnishings, color, lighting and windows to make the living space feel larger. The waterfall and living wall are sculpted from metal by industrial artist Ray Hammar of Sequim. Michael Hamilton of Port Hadlock made the tables and benches. Seth Rolland of Port Townsend created the bathroom vanity from rock and fir. Wall textures are applied by artist Gail Miller of Whidbey Island. The interior is decorated with an exclusive line of organic fabrics by Suzanne DeVall.

The pods are built by Greg Barron of Greenpod Builders.

They are built to meet King County’s requirements for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) and are aimed at people who want to downsize, age in place or care for family member in a separate unit. They also work as cabins, second homes, home offices and small commercial buildings. Pods can be stacked and configured to create communities. More information is at (800) 569-0831 or GreenPod.us.


Tours galore including net zero energy zHome, Brightwater, Seattle Design Festival

September and October are always busy months in Seattle’s green/sustainable scene. This fall, however, there seems to be a wealth of tours of really interesting projects.

  • zHome

One of the most interesting opportunities is the chance to tour Issaquah’s zHome project. Issaquah says zHome is the country’s first net zero energy multifamily complex. The 10-unit townhouse development in the Issaquah Highlands has truly been a labor of love. Originally set to be complete in the fall of 2009, the project has just opened after surviving three contractors and a devastating recession. Brad Liljequist, Issaquah’s dedicated project manager, said each unit has been designed to use 5,000 kilowatt hours of energy a year compared to the 14,000 hours of energy a townhouse normally uses. The team began with tight design, and will produce needed energy from a 65,000-kilowatt-per-year solar array.

Free tours will be held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. until October 30.


  • Home Builders Association of Kitsap County Headquarters

Across the water in Bremerton, the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County has improved their headquarters in an effort to create a live demonstration of energy efficiency upgrades for builders and homeowners. The project used six strategies including better air sealing, adding more insulation and adding new efficient lighting to upgrade the space. Tours feature first-hand techniques on saving energy and lowering utility bills. Tours will be held hourly on Sunday, October 23 and Saturday, October 29 from 12 to 4 p.m. Tours are at 5251 Auto Center Way, Bremerton.

  • Seattle Design Festival

If you can’t wait and want to see something now, I suggest you head on over to the Seattle Design Festival’s website here. Though some tours have passed, a number are still to come including a tour Friday on art and architecture called “Let the Streets be Your Museum!” and tours Saturday and Sunday of Ravenna bungalows.

However the one not to miss is Saturday’s grand opening of the Brightwater Center. It looks like the official Seattle Design Festival tour is sold out! However, the grand opening celebration is free, open to the public and features plant tours so you can still see the space if you’re interested. More info here.

Got extra paint? Give it to “the green man” this week for free

Painting is a fun, easy to do project. But once the job is done, excess paint often sits in the basement, dying a slow, slow death as the years pass by.

So today I was delighted to hear about “the green man,” via a press release. The green man is an

Image courtesy Ecoactionteams.ca

effort by Wallingford’s Reed Painting Co. to gather all your old paint and recycle it. Each year, it says, at least 695,000 gallons of paint is wasted in Washington State.

Currently, King County suggests residents dry out latex paint, strain it and put it in the garbage with the lid off. But Cole Palea of Reed Painting said that wastes a good product, while taking up valuable landfill space. Instead, his organization is collecting paint, straining it, categorizing it by color and giving it away as recycled paint.

“The need is there,” he said. “But there is no real solution out there. We’re hopefully getting this conversation started around the community.”

This is the second year Reed has held a paint drive. Last year, it collected almost 200 gallons just from Wallingford, Queen Anne and Capitol Hill. The drive is currently in its second week. Palea said Reed has already doubled the amount of paint it collected last year and plans to pick up an additional 200 gallons of paint this weekend, for a total of at least 600 gallons that would otherwise be in the landfill.

People can either drop off old paint at the Reed shop in Wallingford or call to schedule a $20 pickup this weekend.

Palea said he and business owner Randy Reed grew up in Hawaii where they were acutely aware of natural resource use. Palea is a certified sustainable building advisor and this effort is one way for Reed Painting to become a better steward of the environment. “We’re not trying to greenwash and tell everyone we’re 100 per cent green by no means, because we’re not. But we’re definitely taking steps further,” he said.

Portland has successfully turned paint recycling into a business. To read more about that city’s efforts, check out this excellent story from 2009.

Reed is a painting contractor that works on homes and commercial projects. It paints the interior of the Seattle Art Museum between exhibits.

To drop off your paint, visit the shop this Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is at 3668 Albion Place North, on the backside of the block. The front of the shop is along Woodland Park Avenue North and 38th. There are three garage doors painted red. Reed is behind the first garage door. For more information, visit http://www.reedpaint.com/ or call (206) 965-0504.

AIA Forum on Integrated Project Delivery and Lean Construction

I’m not sure about you but things can get pretty slow around here during the holidays. If you’re slowing down already, or if you are interested in an exciting winter event to jumpstart your green holiday season, check out the Integrated Project Delivery and Lean Construction program Dec. 13 and 14.

The event Dec. 13 is on IPD and runs from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The event Dec. 14 is on leanconstruction basics. Both are at the Mountaineers Program Center. The AIA, AGC of Washington and Lean Construction Institute are putting on the program.

If you haven’t heard of IPD at this point, I’m guessing you live under a rock. It contractually links the owner, architect and contractor with shared financial risk and reward on a project. The text of the program flier words it perfectly: “For some, IPD is just the latest buzzword for collaboration, the latest nuance to evolving project delivery; for others IPD heralds a transformation of the A/E/C industry, leading to new professional roles, collaboration techniques, design and construction process, and final product.”

I wrote about “true integrated project delivery” last December in this DJC article on Children’s Bellevue, an IPD collaboration between Seattle Children’s Hospital, NBBJ, Sellen Construction and Seneca Real Estate Group. It’s a fascinating project and a great read.

Sustainably, IPD has the potential to really change the game. Often a problem cited in green development is that teams are brought on too late. But with IPD, all team members are brought on from the very beginning and allowed to flesh problems out on the front end. From a green perspective, this means more efficient or cutting edge systems can be added in holistically and potentially more successfully.

Speakers at the event include AP Hurd of Touchstone, Eric Smith of the University of Washington Capital Projects Office, Jay Halleran of NBBJ, Ken Sanders of Gensler, Scott Redman of Sellen, Ted Sive of Ted Sive Consulting and more.  It costs $195 for AIA members and will be worth your time.

However, IPD is intrinsically connected to lean construction principles. The event on Dec. 14 will focus on lean construction basics. Registration for that is $525.