5 Questions About Building Green Homes in Seattle
Green building is more than just a niche home trend in Seattle. Our city has long been known for its resident’s commitment to eco-friendliness and living a green lifestyle. According to a 2017 article by GeekWire, over half of new homes built in Seattle in 2016 were green certified for the first time. By 2017, that number had jumped to 65% of all new homes. Overall, we’re one of the leading cities for green built residential projects.
More and more, energy efficiency is a top concern for home buyers – whether those homes are new or resale. Homeowners are looking to save money and reduce their carbon footprints. This translates to a demand for homes that have energy-efficient appliances and materials. Saving money is the single greatest motivating factor to wanting to purchase a home with green features.
“Researchers compared the energy use of Built Green homes and non-certified homes using Seattle City Light data from 2014. They found that homes with Built Green certification used about 40 percent less electricity, amounting to approximately $500 in annual electricity bill savings.”
What is Built Green?
Built Green is a green home certification program put together by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties. The program certifies homes at 3, 4, 5 and Emerald-Star (Net Zero) levels based on a checklist of items worth points that relate to the home site and water usage, building materials used, energy efficiency and indoor air quality.
Items on the certification checklist are things like whether the home is located near mass transit and essential services, whether drought-resistant landscaping is used, the energy-efficiency of the home’s systems and appliances and the use of recycled or reclaimed building materials, to name a few.
Why Build Green?
There are some incentives to building green in Seattle, besides being good to the environment. Builders can have additional square footage and get their building permits approved faster. There are also cash incentives for using certain methods, and there is an added benefit when it comes time to market the homes for sale. The National Association of Realtors reported that 71% of Realtors see energy efficiency as a highlight when marketing listings.
Building to a green standard does cost more up front, so it adds to the total cost of the home which can make them less affordable.
Where Do We Build Green?
Here at Beachworks, almost all of our townhouse projects have been certified Built Green since 2014. Our projects are located throughout Seattle and Shoreline. Take a look at our portfolio of green built projects at the end of this post.
What Are the Top Built Green Features?
Energy Efficient Appliances
Energy efficiency in appliances is top of mind for most home buyers. The Energy Efficient Home Design Trends report by Fixr.com says that the top appliance on most home buyer’s wish lists is an energy-efficient dryer. Dryers can be one of the biggest electricity vampires in the home, so switching to a more efficient model can have a big impact.
Other appliances and systems that home buyers are looking for are heat pumps, tankless water heaters, and energy star appliances in the kitchen and the laundry room. In addition to appliances, low-flow fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom can also help reduce water usage.
Locally Sourced Windows
Most new construction homes today come with dual-pane windows. Aside from keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, they can also keep more noise out. For the Built Green certification, windows should be locally sourced and/or certified as sustainable harvested.
Energy-Efficient LED or CFL Lighting
Many new construction homes nowadays come with LED lighting as a standard. The incandescent bulb is going the way of the rotary phone—and for good reason. Though they are more expensive up front, LED lights last up to 25,000 hours compared to an incandescent bulb’s lifetime of 1,200 hours and cost less to operate during the year. LED and CFL lighting is an option for Green Built certification.
Green Building Materials
When we talk about building materials, we’re talking about what’s used to build the home and the construction methods. This can be specific to the type of material that’s used for construction of the home, insulation, flooring or roofing, whether it’s recycled or reclaimed and its level of toxicity.
The type of insulation used and its thickness can be a factor in ranking for what is called a highly insulated building envelope. The better the insulation, the easier it is to maintain the indoor temperature and air quality of the home. Homes built with good insulation and less toxic materials (i.e. pre-finished flooring and less carpet) can maintain better indoor air quality.
Solar Panel Installation
Solar panels were one of the first sustainability trends that emerged at the turn of the century when green building first started taking hold. However, it’s also one of the more expensive options when you’re looking to green your home. The Built Green Program’s Net Zero Emerald Star rating requires the setup to install solar panels in the future, but not the solar panels themselves. Because installing solar panels can be expensive up front, homeowners need to consider their energy consumption and the cost analysis of installing solar panels versus their long term return on investment.
Yards filled with grass are becoming less popular due to their upkeep and water needs—especially in drought prone places like California. Instead people are opting for landscaping that includes drought-resistant native plants and yards that accommodate urban farming. Using drought-resistant native plants and less grass are factors in Green Built properties.
Sustainability goes beyond the home. Many people are looking to live in a neighborhood where they can walk or bike to nearby amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants and shops. In Seattle, there are parts of each neighborhood called urban villages which have higher zoning and include commercial spaces. Urban villages provide services and employment to those living nearby, reducing the need to drive a car. Green Built certification takes into account how close a property is to essential services.
How Can You Go Green?
The city of Seattle has a rebate program for replacing old appliances such as washers, dryers, water heaters, and windows. They also have in-store discounts available for LED lights and low-flow showerheads. You can also take the DIY Energy Audit to find new ways to save energy in your home.
Our Built Green Projects
Beachworks LLC local, family-owned company in north Seattle committed to improving the value of our community. For those who need to sell their homes quickly and privately, we we provide an all cash offer and close on your timeline.