Ichijo’s zHome project manager shares insights
August 9, 2011
This month’s interview is with Nick Nied, of Ichijo USA Co. Ltd., who is project manager for development and construction.
Tell us a little about your background and interests.
My first experience in construction was building a fishing lodge in a remote area of Southeast Alaska. Completely off of the grid, we cleared the land, milled lumber from the trees that we had cut and built the lodge from the ground up using no electricity. The lodge had many green features, including passive lighting design and a rain catchment system used for drinking water.
I graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in construction engineering management and have been in the Seattle residential building industry for the past six years. I am an avid outdoorsman and if not found on the construction site will most likely be on some outdoor adventure with my wife and/or dog.
What does zHome mean to you?
ZHome is the opportunity, unlike any I have ever seen, to bring together key people and organizations within the building industry to challenge conventional building standards and create a project unmatched by any other. As a leader within the industry, this opportunity will forever change the way we build homes in the future.
Growing up I dreamt of homes that produced the same amount of electricity as they consumed, captured rain water that was used for all water needs, green roofs for growing food that the homeowner would consume, with passive heating and cooling, a little zHome Utopia if you will! Building zHome I feel that my dream is becoming realized and I feel extremely fortunate to accomplish this dream so early in my career.
What have been some of the challenges on the project and how have you resolved them?
Many challenges of the zHome project are due to the advanced level of benchmarks, including energy, materials, water, recycling and indoor air quality. All of these benchmarks require a strict set of specifications that must be communicated to the skilled craftsmen performing the work. I have found it common, that even though communicated clearly to the management of the person performing the work, that it does not always get communicated clearly to the person in the trench. I have found that many craftsman are unaware of green alternates that cost the same and they want to use the same material that they always have. Source-separating waste products to meet our waste diversion requirements has also been a difficult and unique challenge but have accomplished many new techniques that I will carry onto future projects with the help of the King County Solid Waste Division. I have found that clear communication and setting expectations early has helped reduce many problems.
How do you think zHome will influence homes of the future?
ZHome set the benchmark for the next level of green building. ZHome is a great example of how attainable building extreme green is. Part of the zHome goal is to establish market change. ZHome has proven that with a lot of planning, a small incremental cost increase and hard work that it is feasible to build homes that are zero energy and more sustainable for our local environment.