Water conservation is priority at zHome, WaterSense honoree

March 6, 2012

The carbon-neutral zHome townhouses in the Issaquah Highlands receive most attention for steps to reduce energy use.

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City, King County leaders flip switch on zHome

September 20, 2011

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.

King County Executive Dow Constantine (right, at lectern) prepares to address the crowd at the opening of zHome in the Issaquah Highlands on Sept. 14. Contributed

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.

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City, King County leaders flip switch on zHome in Issaquah Highlands

September 14, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine (center, at lectern) prepares to address the crowd at the opening of zHome in the Issaquah Highlands on Wednesday. Contributed

NEW — 4:45 p.m. Sept. 14, 2011

Issaquah and King County leaders gathered Wednesday morning 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, the city, 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 in 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. The zHome team said the project used almost 80 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood, low-toxicity materials and salmon-friendly practices at the site.

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 Energy Program. Ichijo USA, a subsidiary of a large Japanese homebuilder, and local builder Matt Howland built the units.

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City plugs in energy-saving zHome, leader in ‘green’ living

September 13, 2011

Family spends night at zero-energy townhouse to test innovations

Some of the 10 carbon-neutral townhomes of the zHome community glow in the setting sun along Northeast High Street in the Issaquah Highlands. By Greg Farrar

The steeply angled roofs and street-side rain garden attract attention to the townhouses along Northeast High Street.

The effect is deliberate, because the 10-townhouse complex, called zHome, is designed to encourage people to explore and rethink notions about “green” living. The project is the first carbon-neutral and zero-energy multifamily community in the United States.

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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.

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Issaquah leaders honor zHome builder

July 26, 2011

Akinobu Ohno (left), president of Ichijo USA, receives the framed Ichijo Day proclamation from Mayor Ava Frisinger on July 18, for the zHome project in the Issaquah Highlands. By Greg Farrar

The long-planned zHome project under construction in the Issaquah Highlands — residences designed to produce as much energy as occupants consume — is in line to open in mid-September.

City planners and longtime project backers attributed the milestone to builder Ichijo USA, a subsidiary of Japanese homebuilder Ichijo Co.

In a July 18 ceremony, Mayor Ava Frisinger and Issaquah leaders spotlighted the pan-Pacific partnership responsible for jolting zHome from concept to reality. The mayor proclaimed the day as Ichijo Day in Issaquah.

“During our early discussions about Ichijo, the more we learned about the community, the more excited we became,” she said during the ceremony. “Although we were located thousands of miles away, many of our goals and ambitions were the same.”

Ichijo USA President Akinobu Ohno offered a graceful bow and accepted the framed proclamation from Frisinger.

Construction on zHome is scheduled to conclude in late summer, and then crews plan to prepare the units for public open houses. The opening date is Sept. 14 during the Built Green Conference, a gathering for building industry professionals interested in eco-conscious practices.

Ichijo USA joined the project early last year in a joint venture between the company and developer Matt Howland.

Ichijo Co. builds energy-efficient residences across Japan — a bonus for Issaquah officials.

“They have been a critical part of zHome coming together. With the downturn, we had worked very hard to find alternative financing and hardly any new construction is getting financed these days,” zHome Project Manager Brad Liljequist said. “Ichijo as a partner, they were very critical to getting zHome moving forward.”

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Innovative zHome community opens Sept. 14

May 31, 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 May 3.

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 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.

Construction on zHome started last April, after Howland Development Issaquah — a joint venture between Shoreline developer Howland Homes and Japanese homebuilder Ichijo Co. subsidiary Ichijo USA — teamed up to build and finance the project.

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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Explore zHome on Green Home Tour

March 8, 2011

Discover eco-conscious features at zHome in the Issaquah Highlands during a regional tour of “green” residences next month.

The project is a featured destination on the upcoming Northwest EcoBuilding Guild Green Home Tour. The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 16-17.

The tour includes in-depth education at residences throughout the area, so participants can learn tips about reducing energy costs and creating a more eco-friendly home environment.

Organizers offer more information, and a list of featured homes, at the guild website, www.ecobuilding.org.

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.

Dignitaries broke ground on zHome in September 2008, but the recession delayed construction until April 2010. The residences should be completed by late spring.

Explore zHome, ‘green’ highlands residences, on Thursday tour

March 1, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. March 1, 2011

Step behind the fencing at the zHome construction site in the Issaquah Highlands on Thursday.

The tour focuses on the ongoing effort to build 10 eco-friendly townhouses designed to produce as much electricity as the units consume. The tour runs from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

The construction site is near the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride, 1755 Highlands Drive N.E.

Participants can check out wall cavities inside the unfinished residences and discover heat-recovery ventilators designed to warm incoming air by using escaping exhaust air.

Plans call for the townhouses to harness solar power and use recycled building materials. Officials expect zHome to be completed in the spring.

The groundbreaking project is a featured destination the upcoming Northwest EcoBuilding Guild Green Home Tour.

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