Net Zero Development In Washington A First

Deep green homes available for the mainstream? That’s what the zHomes development in Issaquah, Wash., is all about. This collection of 10 new townhomes is believed to be the first net zero, carbon neutral multifamily development in the country.

Brought to life through a collaborative public/private partnership spearheaded by the city of Issaquah, in conjunction with Built Green, King County, Port Blakely Communities, Puget Sound Energy and the Washington State University Energy Program, the homes supply all of their own energy and use 70 percent less water than conventionally built homes of similar size.

zHome town homes, Washington

image via zHomes

They were constructed by Ichijo USA and Seattle builder Matt Howland using nearly 80 percent Forest Stewardship Council certified wood, healthy, low-toxicity materials and salmon-friendly site practices. (Salmon-friendly practices minimize harmful runoff into local streams and watersheds.)

So how mainstream, exactly, is the retail price on these homes? While the pricetag may seem exorbitant for some areas of the counntry – from the $400,000s to the $600,000s – they’re in tune with middle-income buyers in the greater Seattle area.

The idea here is not just to sell houses, but to spur the growth of net zero homes in the area, as the zHomes project partners have also created a sustained, long-term education and marketing program with a goal to “radically accelerate the market adoption of sustainable housing in the region.” Toward that end, one of zHome’s 10 units will remain open to the public as a Stewardship Center for the next five years, offering educational programming and tours for the community, builders, designers and students.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.