Category Archives: Green Homes

Building Green from Basement to Rooftop

Today, building an eco-friendly home requires much more than just installing extra insulation in the attic. There are literally thousands of eco-friendly products and building options out there to choose from and while daunting, all will deliver improved home efficiency and a unique home that could appreciate beyond standard properties.

In general terms, the best place to begin is to hire an architect. They should be able to articulate the features you’d like integrated into your property, in addition to providing a clear direction for prime and sub-contractors to follow as the home addition is built.

Once permits are secured, source a builder that knows local building codes, but is also a specialist in building eco designs. While in high demand, eco homes are still in their infancy, so be wary of builders who claim to be an expert in everything.

Additional considerations:

  • Choose a site that maximizes sunlight. This will help heat your home during the winter and provide an excellent charge for solar paneling. Also, if possible, position your home near deciduous trees whose bloom will shade the house in summer.
  • Choose building materials such as bricks or siding for their insulation as well as durability.
  • Select energy-efficient lighting options including “day-lighting” such as skylights to minimize energy use. Also consider building in timing, dimming and motion detectors that will turn lights on and off when areas in your home are not in use.
  • Consider having “structured wiring” installed for Smart Home options that enable one-touch (‘smart climate’) light and heat control.
  • A southern facing roof topped with solar panels can heat water, generate electricity and, in some locations, direct surplus electricity back to the electric grid which could earn you credits or additional income.
  • Ensure your insulation will be at R-2000 standards, including R-50 attics, R-25 walls and R-20 basements.
  • Consider the new, micro “combined-heat-and-power” (CHP) unit furnaces that not only heat your home but can also generate up to $800 worth of electricity per year. These can run $13,000 to $20,000, yet you should be fully reimbursed in about three to seven years depending on the cost of electricity.
  • If the CHP furnace is too expensive, consider a heat pump that can deliver energy-efficient air conditioning and heating capabilities.
  • As well, choose energy efficient appliances that have the ENERGY STAR™ endorsement;
  • Insist on low-flow shower heads and faucets, as well as water-efficient reservoirs in your bathrooms;
  • Green Landscaping shouldn’t be forgotten since it can be sculpted to provide natural drainage into flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, or onto lawns where you need water;
  • Finally, check out local and national government “green” programs that may assist you in the purchase of your eco-friendly products through rebates or discount programs.  

Undoubtedly, there will be choices galore while building your new home. However, be sure the ones you select are ones you need and they will deliver tangible benefits to you, the environment and eventually, potential buyers.

Try out our interactive home audit tool

Home Audit Tool partnered with Lowe

As a real estate professional I really focus on saving people money.
I am proud to be a part of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, which is putting an effort into their Green Leadership Initiative. Try out our interactive Home Efficiency Audit Tool, brought to you by Lowe’s. Learn how you can save money by making your home more efficient by using this online audit tool. Projects are broken out into everyday energy savers, conservation tip, weekend projects and big payoff projects. Scroll down to the “Live Green” section at the bottom of the page to learn more.

Summer is ON! High Point Farm Stand opens tomorrow

Admit it, you are jealous, just this once, that I can walk to a cool and productive garden and then go home with a canvas bag full of veggies for only ten bucks. Here’s the official announcement that came across the P-Patch list serv today from coordinator Julie Bryan:

The High Point Farm Stand officially opens Wednesday, July 13, offering fresh organic produce picked right from the High Point P-Patch Market Garden. Located at 32nd Ave. SW and SW Juneau St, the farm stand will be open every Wednesday through September from 4 pm to 7 pm.

Fresh right now is spinach, carrots, leafy vegetables, new onions, peas, turnips and radishes, to name a few.

Seattle P-Patch Market Gardens is a partnership developed with the community by the P-Patch Community Gardening Program in collaboration with the Seattle Housing Authority and P-Patch Trust to support low-income gardeners. Its mission is to establish safe, healthy communities and economic opportunity through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farm stand enterprises.

For directions for the farm stand, visit the website. To learn more about the Seattle P-Patch Market Gardens, visit their website

If you want to be able to walk to a local farm stand and buy fresh vegetables when in season, click to see High Point homes for sale and then call me for a personalized and detailed tour of the wonderful Built Green Certified community of High Point in West Seattle.

Low cost/affordable energy improvements available for 2,000 homes in Central or Southeast Seattle NOW

I recently learned of a company that has entered the Pacific Northwest home+energy market, called Energy Savvy. They have been contracted by the City of Seattle to provide a method to roll out affordable energy efficiency upgrades to home owners. It’s called Community Power Works. A press release in April provides the meat of the matter, but here is a brief summary:

Community Power Works for Home plans to upgrade 2,000 homes in its service area over the next two years. The project serves the central and southeast neighborhoods of Seattle, areas which have historically been underserved by energy efficiency programs. It will give residents of those neighborhoods an affordable way to make their homes more comfortable and healthy while making energy-efficient upgrades to their homes.

“Our leaky old houses waste so much energy, it’s like having a window open 24 hours a day, every day of the year,” says contractor Jason Lear, of Batt + Lear, a Seattle green design/build company. “We find our customers like having a home that is far less drafty. They had no idea how much more comfortable they could be in their home, in winter and in summer. And what so many people don’t know is that when you improve the energy savings of a home, you inevitably improve the comfort, the durability and the health of the home, too. ”

Community Power Works for Home is part of a $20 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant awarded through the Department of Energy’s BetterBuildings program. Over a two-year period, Community Power Works is leveraging these federal dollars to produce an additional $25 million in economic activity in the region from state funding, utility rebates, and homeowner investments in their homes. All of this investment will put a charge into a local green industry to preserve and create hundreds of living–‐wage jobs, help homeowners save energy, and reduce the City’s carbon footprint.

(read the whole press release here.)

Community Power Works offers:

  • A deeply discounted home energy assessment. Thanks to incentives from Seattle City Light, this assessment costs only $95 – a $305 savings.
  • Certified contractors to do the work.
  • Rebates and incentives to bring down the cost of your upgrade by up to $3,000.
  • Affordable loans with easy terms to qualify.
  • Energy Experts to help you every step of the way and make sure the job is done right.

From their website:
Community Power Works is offered by the City of Seattle with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal of the program is to achieve energy savings of at least 15 percent in each home served. The special incentives and financing are available only to projects that meet or exceed this savings level.

See if your house is inside the coverage area – map here.

What all of this means is that you need to jump on this opportunity if you are within the area served. Not only will you save money on your utility bills (I know you keep hearing this over and over) but what it ALSO does it make your home more sell-able in the future.

I can talk about this all day. If you’re interested in learning more about this whole concept of a “house as a building system” and nothing more, and how to improve your current home, please talk to me. Send an email using the button on the right, message on Facebook, or call me at 206.686.HOME (4663).

Thanks! and have a wonderful weekend!

Wendy Hughes-Jelen