Zero-Energy Multifamily Community Opens Its Doors

ISSAQUAH, WA - The first zero-energy, carbon neutral multifamily community in the United States is now open, demonstrating that cutting-edge environmental building technologies are not only possible - but also scalable - for mainstream housing production.

Located in Issaquah, Wash., zHome's 10 townhomes use zero net energy; 70 percent less water; nearly 80 percent Forest Stewardship Council certified wood; healthy, low-toxicity materials; and salmon-friendly site practices.

"This pioneering project sets a new standard for how homes can - and should - be built in our region and country," said Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger. "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 mainstream home market has always been a key focus for zHome. The townhomes' prices, which target middle income homebuyers, range from the low $400,000s to the $600,000s.

zHome was brought to life through a highly 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 were built and developed by Ichijo USA and Seattle builder Matt Howland.

Although the zHome townhomes will be sold, they are more than a place to live. Project partners have also created a sustained, long-term education and marketing program that seeks to radically accelerate the market adoption of sustainable housing in the region. One of zHome's 10 units will remain as a Stewardship Center for the next five years, offering educational programming and tours for the community, builders, designers and students.

"Buildings account for 40 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions nationally, yet modern homes are about as innovative as the Model T," said zHome project manager Brad Liljequist with the City of Issaquah. "zHome represents a huge step forward toward reducing your living footprint without radically changing your lifestyle. The Stewardship Center will also offer folks innovative and practical steps for replicating zHome's approach in their own home building or remodeling projects."

zHome was designed to push the limits of every sector of sustainable building and hit aggressive, numeric benchmarks in the areas of energy, water, materials, construction waste and site development. zHome townhomes:

Are zero net energy and carbon neutral, thanks to energy-efficient construction practices and products, as well as solar panels that generate needed power.

Use 70 percent less water than the average home, achieved in part through an integrated rainwater recycling system and water-efficient fixtures.

Incorporate 78 percent FSC-certified wood products and a high percentage of recycled, reclaimed and regional materials.

Diverted 90 percent of all construction-related debris through waste prevention, reuse and recycling.

Offer high indoor air quality through low toxicity materials and proper ventilation.

Reduce stormwater impacts through low-impact site development strategies - including recharging runoff onsite -- to mimic the site's original, forested state.

Achieve the highest ever Built Green certification score of 850 points.

Were developed in conjunction with an adjacent 150-unit YWCA Family Village workforce housing community. Together, they form a transit-oriented development adjacent to a regional transit center.

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