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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Swedish’s Issaquah Highlands hospital is ‘green’ by design

June 21, 2011

Facility is built to lessen impact on environment

The highlands hospital campus features a 6,000-square-foot landscaped rooftop deck — a ‘green’ feature meant to improve aesthetics and patient wellness. By Aaron Blank

In health care, physicians pledge to do no harm.

The oath applies to the environment as much as to patients at the Swedish Medical Center campus about to open in the Issaquah Highlands. Cutting energy use is a challenge, because a hospital is always on and medical equipment gulps energy. The result: Hospitals rank near the top among industrial energy users.

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Issaquah’s zHome partners share project insights

June 7, 2011

This month’s zHome interview is with two key partners on the project — Dennis Rominger, of Puget Sound Energy, and Luke Howard, of the Washington State University Energy Program.

Q: What do you do for your organizations?

Dennis Rominger

Luke Howard

Dennis: My primary role is to manage Puget Sound Energy’s space and water heater rebate programs. I am also the PSE representative for zHome, roles I’ve held since March 2009.

Luke: I work on several residential energy efficiency projects for WSU’s Extension Energy Program, providing technical assistance and training for industry professionals. Additionally, I participate in residential case studies and research projects focused on cutting-edge technologies, design and construction techniques.

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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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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

Zero-energy housing project is delayed

January 27, 2009

The nation’s financial crisis is hitting close to home, or more precisely zHome. Read more