City, King County leaders flip switch on zHome
September 20, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Issaquah and King County leaders gathered Sept. 14 to flip the switch on zHome, the first zero-energy, carbon-neutral multifamily community in the United States.
Built to use zero net energy and 70 percent less water than a traditional home, Issaquah, King County and other partners collaborated to open the 10-townhouse complex in the Issaquah Highlands. The project is meant to serve as a model for incorporating “green” elements into mainstream homebuilding.
County Executive Dow Constantine joined Mayor Ava Frisinger to open the facility at a ceremony in the zHome courtyard.
“This pioneering project sets a new standard for how homes can — and should — be built in our region and country,” Frisinger said in a statement. “Our vision is that zHome’s innovative approach will catalyze the market for much ‘greener’ building materials and technologies, as well as inspire the next generation of homebuilders through examples that are replicable and market rate.”
The project included aggressive benchmarks to set a different standard in “green” homebuilding. Units in zHome range from the low $400,000s to the $600,000s.
The photovoltaic panels on the rooftops capture sunlight in the summer and create energy for the units and the regional grid. In the winter, as the units pull power from the grid, the energy use evens out to zero.
The city spearheaded the project, alongside King County, Built Green — a nonprofit program focused on sustainable construction — highlands developer Port Blakely Communities, Puget Sound Energy and the Washington State University Extension Energy Program. Ichijo USA, a subsidiary of a large Japanese homebuilder, and local builder Matt Howland built the units.
The complex also opened for months of public tours as part of a long-term education effort. The outreach also included opening a Stewardship Center in a zHome unit to offer educational programs and tours for the community, builders, designers and students.
What to know
People curious about zHome — the first carbon-neutral and zero-energy multifamily community in the United States — can step inside the Issaquah Highlands townhouse complex during free tours through Oct. 30. The complex is open for tours any time on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and any time on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The site is located along Northeast High Street, just east of YWCA Family Village at Issaquah and the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride.
“The Stewardship Center will also offer folks innovative and practical steps for replicating zHome’s approach in their own homebuilding or remodeling projects,” zHome Project Manager Brad Liljequist said in a statement.
City joins regional climate-change effort
Issaquah joined a regional effort to address climate change Sept. 13 as Mayor Ava Frisinger signed the King County-Cities Climate Collaboration pledge. The pact binds local governments to address climate and sustainability efforts.
Frisinger — plus Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride and Shoreline Mayor Keith McGlashan — signed the pledge to open the Green Tools Government Confluence at Pickering Barn.
County Executive Dow Constantine launched the partnership in June to enhance the effectiveness of local governments’ climate-change and sustainability projects and programs.
The collaboration is focused on outreach and coordination. The effort is also designed to help local governments to secure grant funding and other resources to support climate-related projects and programs.