Greener Suburbs in Washington State

This article from Amy Roe of Realchangenews.org provides a refreshing look at an organization attempting to promote building with “greener” materials so that our homes do not add to the environmental dangers within our midst. From the article:

With their much-maligned sprawl and super-sized tract homes, the suburbs are hardly considered the home of environmentalism.

One of King County’s fastest-growing suburban cities is planning to change that by building homes so extremely green that they don’t just reduce net energy consumption, they eliminate it altogether.

The city of Issaquah is seeking a $420,000 grant from the state Department of Ecology to design and promote a plan for five to 10 “zero energy� townhomes or condos that each year would generate roughly as much energy as they consume. They would also be carbon neutral, meaning they would not add carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming, to the atmosphere, and would be built from non-toxic and renewable materials, improving air quality for the people who build the houses and live in them while lessening their impact on the environment.

“We felt that there was really a need to demonstrate the leading edge,� says David Fujimoto, resource conservation office manager for the city of Issaquah.

After developing a plan for the units, city planners hope to persuade a builder to construct them. The homes would be put up for sale but would also function as a presentation center, offering guided tours led by docents, workshops, a Web site, and audio tours like those found in museums.

“It kind of ends up being a living classroom,� Fujimoto says.

Fujimoto says Issaquah wants to demonstrate to risk-averse home builders that there’s a market for this type of housing.

Multifamily homes account for 49 percent of all homes in Issaquah, and planners expect that balance to tip further in favor of attached housing as single-family sites become more scarce and housing prices continue to drive demand for affordable homes.

“As this area continues to develop more, and in some cases housing becomes more dense, this is the kind of home people are going to be looking at,� Fujimoto said.

Issaquah is still awaiting word on the grant. Fujimoto said the city still intends to pursue the project.

Green is a growing niche in the booming real estate market. Built Green, a nonprofit arm of the Master Builders Association of King County, currently certifies about 14 percent of all new homes in King County as one of five levels of environmentally friendly construction, Executive Director Aaron Adelstein says. By 2010, he expects 30 percent of all new homes in King County to carry the certification. [full text]

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One response

  1. an old victoian house on my street is being beautifully renovated, and i saw solar panels on the roof.
    we can have green cities too, how cool is that?

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