Issaquah’s zHome re-creates the forest’s natural hydrology

May 10, 2011

What sets zHome apart from other green residential communities?

We set the bar incredibly high with zHome. Conceptually, we asked ourselves, “What would a highly livable neighborhood with as close to zero impact as reasonably possible on the environment look like? Is such a thing even possible?”

We set benchmarks in each key category, including energy, water use, materials, indoor health and site practices, which all attempt to minimize the long-haul impacts of the homes on the environment.

Isn’t zHome mainly about using zero net energy?

We are pulling out the stops in every area, though of course zero net energy is an extremely high bar to achieve. In the area of storm water and site practices, we set as a standard that the volume of rain that infiltrates into the ground after site development should emulate the way it hit the ground in its original forested state.

That seems impossible, given the high density of the site, with paved and roof areas.

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Issaquah’s innovative zHome community to open Sept. 14

May 3, 2011

NEW — 10:30 p.m. May 3, 2011

The opening date is Sept. 14 for zHome, a groundbreaking cluster of carbon-neutral townhouses under construction in the Issaquah Highlands, the project manager announced Tuesday morning.

Construction is scheduled to conclude earlier, but the additional weeks should allow crews enough time to prepare the units for public open houses. The grand opening is scheduled on the same day as the Built Green Conference, a yearly gathering for building industry professionals interested in eco-conscious practices.

Plans call for tours to run from the conference at Pickering Barn to zHome in the highlands. Brad Liljequist, zHome project manager, announced the grand opening date.

The project is designed to produce as much electricity as residents consume — hence the zero-net energy name — and is meant to be a leader in energy and water conservation.

Construction crews also used a high percentage of salvaged, reclaimed and local materials to build zHome.

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Come behind the scene at zHome to meet the experts

April 19, 2011

What is zHome?

When it opens this September, zHome — just east of the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride — will be the first multifamily, production, zero-energy, carbon-neutral community in the United States.

Brad Liljequist

ZHome is a template for what 21st century, carbon-neutral housing looks like. It will use:

Zero net energy by balancing out its carbon emissions during the course of the year.

70 percent less water than a typical home.

Materials that come from some of the greenest sources possible.

Who is behind this project?

The city is spearheading the project. ZHome, however, is also a collaborative effort of several organizations and companies, including Ichijo USA, Built Green, King County, Port Blakely Communities, Puget Sound Energy and the Washington State University Energy Program.

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City offers energy retrofit classes

January 25, 2011

Step inside a retrofitted house and learn about energy conservation soon.

Residents can learn how to save money by learning steps to make homes more energy efficient at a series of classes sponsored by the city. The free classes are Feb. 5-6.

The city, alongside Puget Sound Energy and Gary Wood, from Applied Performance Technologies, plan to teach the class next month at a retrofitted home.

“This is a very unique class, in that we’re hosting it onsite, at a retrofitted home right here in Issaquah,” city Resource Conservation Office Project Manager Brad Liljequist. “We really wanted residents to see how easy — and affordable — energy-saving home improvements can be.”

The class covers basic building science to teach participants how a home “breathes” and how the heating system works.

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Search for savings this season in a home energy audit

October 19, 2010

From the crawlspace beneath the garage to the cramped attic beneath the eaves, no leak or cold draft escaped the attention of Gary Wood, a home energy auditor shimmying through the unseen corners of the Wilkinson residence on Squak Mountain.

The audit — conducted on a cool October morning — marked step No. 1 to make the 24-year-old home more energy efficient. The process is designed to help homeowners find small problems — improperly sealed roof vents, for instance — and, later, correct the issues. The result: savings on utility bills.

Gary Wood, home energy auditor, explains carbon monoxide and leakage tests he uses to check furnaces during a home energy audit. By Greg Farrar

“To cut our energy use by 30 percent would be huge,” homeowner Dan Wilkinson said.

So, Wood peeked inside the furnace and descended into the crawlspace, checked windows and light bulbs, deployed a high-tech infrared camera to measure temperature differences and — for the pièce de résistance — conducted a blower door test.

The test depressurizes the home using a large fan at the entryway and then measuring the airflow into the structure. The process allows auditors to check the amount of air leaking from the home.

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Governor shines international spotlight on Issaquah’s zHome

October 5, 2010

Gov. Chris Gregoire offered a high-profile shout-out to zHome during a Sept. 17 sustainability address at the Shanghai World Expo.

The governor, on a trade mission to China and Vietnam, mentioned the Issaquah Highlands townhouse project during a speech to the Sustainable Cities Forum, a part of the World’s Fair.

“The city of Issaquah is building a zero-energy housing development in partnership with businesses,” Gregoire said as part of her remarks. “It involves designing, constructing and selling houses that demonstrate advanced ‘green’ building technologies.”

Plans call for zHome to include 10 townhouses designed to produce as much electricity as the units consume. By harnessing solar power and using recycled building materials, developers hope the complex causes only minimal impact to the environment.

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Work will begin next month on Fire Station 72

May 25, 2010

Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 will be built on the undeveloped northeast corner of the Issaquah Transit Center property near state Route 900. TCA Architecture Planning

Construction should start by late June on eco-friendly Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72, the replacement for a threadbare fire station near state Route 900.

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Tour zHome construction site June 3

May 25, 2010

Track the construction of zHome during a public tour hosted by the city June 3. Project Manager Brad Liljequist will lead the tour at the construction site from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Look for the construction site near the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride, 1755 Highlands Drive N.E. The eco-friendly townhouse project does not have a street address yet. Contact Liljequist at 837-3448 or with questions about the tour. Find directions to the site here.

Plans call for zHome to include 10 townhouses designed to produce as much electricity as the units consume. The homes will harness solar power and use recycled building materials.

Officials expect zHome to be completed by next spring.

Dignitaries broke ground on the project in September 2008, but the recession delayed construction until last month.

The city spearheaded the development of zHome. Howland Development Issaquah — a joint venture of Shoreline developer Howland Homes and Ichijo USA, a subsidiary of Japanese homebuilder Ichijo Co. — handles the construction. Ichijo USA financed the project.

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Construction starts on zero-energy homes

April 6, 2010

Workers have started construction in the Issaquah Highlands on zHome, a townhouse development designed to produce as much energy as the units consume. Contributed

Construction has started on zHome — the long-planned, eco-friendly townhouse development launched with fanfare in late 2008 and then hindered by the recession.

Plans call for 10 townhouses designed to produce as much electricity as the units consume. Despite the attention the pioneering project received at the outset, progress lagged until a Japanese homebuilder indicated interest in zHome. Read more

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Construction starts Tuesday on long-delayed zHome project

April 5, 2010

NEW — 9:05 a.m. April 5, 2010

Construction will start Tuesday on zHome — the long-planned, eco-friendly townhouse development launched with fanfare in late 2008 and then hindered by the recession.

The project will include 10 townhouses designed to produce as much electricity as the units consume. Developers said zHome should use 60 percent less water than conventional residences. Workers will use only low-toxicity materials to construct the development.

The buildings will rise near the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride and the construction site of another high-profile highlands project, YWCA Family Village at Issaquah. Officials expect zHome to be completed by next spring.

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