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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Issaquah’s zHome partners share project insights

July 12, 2011

This month’s zHome interview is with Patti Southard, program manager for King County GreenTools, the county’s green building program.

What do you do for your organization?

I provide technical assistance to the county’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and Built Green programming and work with nonprofit organizations, such as the Cascadia Green Building Council and Built Green to institutionalize green building and climate change strategies countywide. As a former business development director for Green Depot (formerly the Environmental Home Center) and Duluth Timber Co., I also have more than 10 years of experience developing markets for green products.

How do you define a green building material?

What makes a product green can vary depending on the material, but it typically has one or more of the following attributes:

  • Is manufactured using recycled material, and/or sustainably managed and renewable resources.
  • Is salvaged, refurbished or remanufactured material.
  • Is manufactured with locally available components, which saves energy and transportation resources.
  • Does not contribute to poor indoor air quality, meaning the material emits few or no carcinogens, toxins or irritants, and have minimal to no emissions of volatile organic compounds.
  • Does not pose health risks to employees during the manufacturing process.
  • Is manufactured to be durable/long-lasting, yet can be easily repurposed or recycled at the end of its useful life.
  • What is unique about zHome’s materials?
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Swedish Medical Center: A great fit for Issaquah

July 5, 2011

Mayor Ava Frisinger

As the entire region will soon enjoy the expanded medical care offered by Swedish/Issaquah, our city has much more to celebrate: a great fit with this community.

Some benefits are obvious. We now have a state-of-the-art hospital and medical campus that offers emergency services, a highly advanced cancer center and an impressive list of specialty-care services — all here in our backyard.

Swedish, however, provides plenty of additional perks for Issaquah. The healthcare provider consistently advocates for healthier lifestyles, which fits well with our active, outdoor-oriented community.

The nonprofit organization is also very much in sync with Public Health – Seattle & King County. Both organizations aim to educate the public that “health” is not merely the absence of illness, but is rather a longer, more enjoyable life. Look soon for Swedish’s great variety of free or low-cost classes regarding vital health topics here in Issaquah.

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Construction progresses on highlands townhouses

July 5, 2011

Homebuilder Pulte Homes has started construction on the $20 million Sunset Walk project in the Issaquah Highlands.

Plans call for Sunset Walk to feature 70 two- and three-story townhouses ranging from 1,460 square feet to 2,055 square feet. Sunset Park is located near the neighborhood.

Groundwork on the 5.86-acre project started in early June. The developer estimates model homes could be ready for tours as early as January.

“Issaquah Highlands is one of the most sought-after places to live in the area, one of the last true master-planned communities, and Pulte Homes is thrilled to become part of it,” Frank Anderson, Pulte Homes vice president of land acquisition, said in a news release. “Adjacent to a beautiful park, in a diverse and thriving community, with great schools, and close to high quality employment — this neighborhood is a terrific fit for people looking for a great new home community in the Northwest.”

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Eastside Fire & Rescue station showcases ‘green’ innovations

June 14, 2011

City Council authorizes $47,000 art piece for building

Construction is almost complete on Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 — a showcase for “green” innovations adjacent to the Issaquah Transit Center — and firefighters should start settling into the sleek structure in August.

Workmen perform a job June 9 before pouring the concrete driveway in front of Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 on Northwest Maple Street a block east of state Route 900. By Greg Farrar

The facility is designed to replace the aging Station 72 less than a mile down Northwest Maple Street from the construction site. The city, architect and EFR designed the modern Station 72 to use as little energy and water as possible.

The building includes a system to pump heat from the ground, photovoltaic cells to catch sunlight and triple-paned windows to reduce heat loss — enough features to achieve the toughest standards from the U.S. Green Building Council.

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Homebuilder starts construction on highlands residences

June 8, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. June 8, 2011

Homebuilder Pulte Homes has started construction on the $20 million Sunset Walk project in the Issaquah Highlands, developers announced Wednesday.

Plans call for Sunset Walk to feature 70 two- and three-story townhouses ranging from 1,460 to 2,055 square feet. Sunset Park is located near the neighborhood.

Groundwork on the 5.86-acre project started in early June. The developer estimates model homes could be ready for tours as early as January 2012.

“Issaquah Highlands is one of the most sought-after places to live in the area, one of the last true master planned communities, and Pulte Homes is thrilled to become part of it,” Frank Anderson, Pulte Homes vice president of land acquisition, said in a news release. “Adjacent to a beautiful park, in a diverse and thriving community, with great schools, and close to high quality employment — this neighborhood is a terrific fit for people looking for a great new home community in the Northwest.”

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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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