Tag Archives: Seattle

Live…from the Built Green Conference 2012: Session 2, Double Down-Marketing Green and Universal Design (Aging In Place) | Dave Porter, PorterWorks

The Power of Synergy

Dave Porter of PorterWorks said we’ve all scared the crap out of each other enough. Take water for instance. Of all the water on the planet only 3% of it is potable, 2% of it is ice, and we are wasting so much of it.

What does green mean to you?
People spoke up with a lot of words –
Future Proofing
Smart Design

Dave says a lot of green building is missing the mark. He has seen a lot of 4 and 5 star Built Green homes, but they are not designed to last.

Words for Universal Design
Simple solution to a complex problem
Universal design
Proportional (too many homes are too large and just for two people)

We spent some time evaluating the room we were in.

Universal design is not a hospital or hotel room that is “accommodating”. They all look and smell like old nursing homes. He is talking about some spiffy places. European curbless shower. The tile does not have to scream hospital.

1 in 9 people have an issue with indoor air quality, lke asthma.

Why people buy green homes
Save money
Make money
Indoor air quality
They care a little bt about the world.
…in that order.

People are very interested in protecting their house. Indoor air quality and home security is something people will spend money on.
It is ridiculous that people will buy a green home to address indoor air quality issues but then bring in toxic furniture.

7,000 people become 65 every day.
2.7 million people in a wheelchair
6.8 million need some sort of mobility assistance
10 million blind or visually impaired, 1 million deaf and 10 million hard of hearing
NAHB has a program Certified Aging In Place. But Dave says it is about any age, there are 121,000 under the age of 15 in a wheelchair.

Someone you know is going to need Grace of the space

Intersection between green and universal design
A rambler – smaller home, no stairs
Floor coverings –
HVAC – ductless, remote control, accessible filter
Light switches – they should be lower
Outlets – should be higher
Windows – hand crank openings, good daylighting so no need to use lights
Materials – concrete floors, wood
Appliances – induction stoves since it inly heats metal and not people. Some people have sensory limitations. Central vacuum systems. Microwave drawer. Dish drawrs instead of front loaders. Front loading washing machine instead of top loader. Pull out shelves. More drawers.
Cabinets and hardware see above
Landscape and walkways – pervious concrete would offer traction on a ramp. Drip irrigation Biophylia. raised garden beds.

Seven Principles of UD

– Equity Use
– Flexibility in Use
– Simple and intuitive to use
-Perceptible Info
-Tolerance of errors
-Low physical effort
-Size and space for approach and use

UD and Green Checklist

-Think family
-Think ahead
-Think green
-Do not think disability, wheelchairs, or ramps
-Do not think ADA, Fair Housing Act or other accessibility guidelines

Now the room has been brokern into sections and we are putting on our “designer” hats to design a green and universally designed home.

Dave concluded with some photos of good universal design. Your job is to solve problems. Uncover problems then solve them.

This is a working post.

Live…from the Built Green Conference 2012: Keynote Speaker Denis Hayes, President/CEO of Bullitt Foundation

Wow what a great lunch

King County Green Tools staff Patti Southard and Kinney (missed the other name) made introductory remarks for Mr. Hayes. First they gave us some statistics and diversion rates for construction materials. Newest edition of the Construction Recycling Directory just came out. He suggests that builders use 2 bins on sites so the sorting is done immediately because it is very time consuming to sort it later. He also mentioned the 20/20 Refit Challenge. Rehabilitating older homes to become healthy, comfortable, energy efficient homes is a lot more sustainable than deconstructing a structure and building something new It’s all about keeping materials out of the waste stream.

Patti thanks the staff at Built Green for creating such a great model that others in the country look to. Collaboration is key. She says every day we are working on making this a beter planet it is like writing a love letter to the Earth. She says we are lucky to have the kind of leadership we have in our area – with Denis Hayes, the founder of Earth Day, having joined our community. She shared her own memories of how Earth Day is a holiday not for religion or anything else, but for doing something for others and the plant.

Denis Hayes
Funny guy! Seems to be speaking extemporaneously. He said normally he gives a rousing motivational speech about becoming more green. But he doesn’t have to do that here, since everyone in the room is involved in the green building industry. He talked about how the Bullitt Foundation stat=started out in a hayloft, and since joining the organization the Board agreed to the construction of a green building. The piece of property the foundation owned called for something larger than an office for seven people, and now they have a 52,000 sq ft mixed use building. Billed as “The Greenest Building in the World” He said there are 26 geothermal wells that are 400 feet deep. ALL of the energy that will be used in this building will be generated by the building. Net Zero is not accomplished very often. Hayes talked about trying to meet the requirements of the Living Building Challenge. He spoke about sourcing materials for the building, finding contractors who would

Bullitt Center – Hard costs up through TI: 17% more expensive than regular Class A office space and found they can’t rent it for any more than regular Class A office space. If you are a tenant in their building and meet ll of your energy goals, you have no energy costs, it’s free. Society needs to start placing real value on things that endure. These major investments count for something. He talked a lot oabout the features that went into this new building. I missed the last tour a couple weeks ago! So I sent an email to find out when the next tour will be. Defnitely have to get it on it.

If I had to do it gain knwoing what I know now and this will sound ridiculous – this is the first time I have worked on a building, but it has given me a lot of humility. So he deerred t a lot of te experts, vendors, and contractors, for elements and aesthetics that if he woudl have won on if he had stuck to his guns. And he would hold out to have it his way next time.

Live…from the Built Green Conference 2012. Session 1

Coming to you live this morning from the Built Green Conference in gorgeous Mukilteo. We are at the Rosehill Community Center above the ferry terminal.

The structure this year is breakout sessions bookending a keynote speech at lunch. There also is an expo where we can meet vendors and other stakeholder sin energy efficiency and green homes. It is hard to decide which session to go to. I picked the one that best matches my personal interests and professional role as a real estate broker.

So I am in the Fowler Room in “Transforming Markets: Community Power Works, 20/20 Home Refit Challenge, and Community Energy Efficiency Programs.”
This is a panel of multiple perspectives, including building science, outreach, marketing, and workforce development.
Jason Lear (Batt+Lear)
Andrea Petzel (City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development)
Ruth Bell (Community Power Works)
Dan Wildenhaus (Senior Building Science Specialist for Fluid Market Strategies)

Topics this session
Community Energy Efficiency Program
Do Energy Efficiency Programs transform markets?
Have local programs transformed our market?
How do we know?
What’s next?

Interestingly enough, I was an early participant in the Community Power Works program, before it reached its current iteration of providing a $95 energy assessment. A volunteer came to my home and talked about energy efficiency and how to cut your personal energy use. Low hanging fruit (one of the easy. low cost things you can do) included replacing all of our existing light bulbs with CFL bulbs. This was about two years ago. I had not changed out the light bulbs from when we bought the townhome as new construction in 2007. It is a 3-Star Built Green Certified home in the Built Green Certified Community of High Point in West Seattle. Besides energy efficiency, changing to a lower usage bulb makes your home more comfortable. All of those incandescent bulbs put out a lot of heat.

There are a number of measuring tools that are being utilized to show the results of the Community Power Works retrofits. Over 500 homes have been completed, with over 240 in the pipeline now. The gal si to reduce energy use by at least 15%. Only one home has not met that goa, anf there are some “audacious” homes that are saving 50-60% in energy use on their utility bills.

Building science
Rather than write all new specs, they use Department of Commerce specifications for building performance.
Reducing air leakage in a home (insulation)- leaky recessed lighting fixtures increases heat loss/gain, and can cause ice dam problems.
Most often performed corrective action taken in homes in the program:
Air sealing
Attic insulation
Wall insulation
Floor insulation
uct sealing
Duct insulation

Measurement used to be in carbon savings. Most people couldn’t understand it so it was changed to energy savings. Quality assurance has to be evaluate frequently so course corrections can be made. Programs like this leverage current training to bolster both new and existing workers and create not just jobs but quality companies.

Who are the customers/
Income between $50-$150k. There is a significant drop off in the higher income brackets, perhaps these flks don’t consider government programs for tem. There also is a low number of households with people of color. Perhaps there is a language barrier or translation problem that needs to be increased. More outreach to lower income communities. There are cultural liasons speaking about 12 languages
33% of households have children in the home
Most homes were built before 1959.

Average cost of upgrade $14,500
Average CPW rebate: $2,600. (18%)
Average utility rebates: $700 (5%)
Customers with CPW loans: 25%

Washigton State University (WSU) is a big participant in the program, helping with surveys of homeowners after they have participated in the program.

Now what? (Jason Lear)
20/20 Home Refit Challenge: 20,000 ohomes with 20% energy savings
Program participants get: Special financing and the market value of a Buitl Green Certification + Energy Score
Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union (PSCCU) has developed a special home equity loan for homeowners who participate in the program.
“Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union understands the challenge in affording energy-efficient alternatives for your home. We’re here to help with our Energy Smart Loans. Our loan products cover everything from heating and cooling, hot water tanks, gas conversions, windows and even renewable energy like SOLAR! Need to do some prescriptive measures before you can make your home more efficient? We can usually help with that as well.”

What is the future of Community Power Works?
Under negotiations now withs stakeholders trying to get interest gauged from utilities and assessing market need. By Jan or Feb 2013 there may be an extension to the program (but no new money coming in).

This is a working blog post and will be updated as more information becomes available to flesh out the details of this session.

How to sell your home now in a strong buyers’ market

There are probably a million “how to sell your home now” tip lists out there. But this one in today’s Realty Times has some good reminders for our modern times, specifying that “curb appeal” also means on the web.

In a buyers’ market, selling your home can be a frustrating lesson, especially if you make costly mistakes that can slow your sales opportunities.

Read the full story: Sell Your Home Now With These Tips

Top 10 from Sustainable Industries brought a Top 1 to my attention – Warmboard

This started as a post on my Facebook Page, Westside Green Living With Wendy. Then I realized it really should have started on my blog and gone the other direction.

Last week I attended the online presentation of the Top 10 new products from Sustainable Industries. I am very excited about “Warmboard“. They answered my question about it in their blog. It’s something we can actually install in our condo townhouse since it doesn’t modify anything (it can go over the existing plywood subfloor) and then we can put anything we want over the top of it! We really like some of the cork products we have seen, which also feel less “cold” to the stocking feet.

It will be interesting to see what the energy cost difference might be. We currently run electric baseboard heat only on the main floor in the largest area – kitchen/living room – and our bathroom in the mornings and both are on Honeywell programmable thermostat. The top floor is always plenty warm, and the lowest level we only travel thru to the garage (and the cats have fur) so are ok without heating it (it’s really nice in the summer). I think I would install the Warmboard only on the main level, I bet that will heat the same as how the house is heated now.

Have you seen any products that excite you?

18 homes/condominiums for sale in High Point (West Seattle)

I was doing a quick search for a friend who is considering moving up to a larger home here and there have been some price drops and a couple of new listings in the last week that I wanted to share with you.

You could be my next door neighbor – on either side. If you shared a front porch with me you would get to enjoy the smell of lemon blossoms right now. It’s heavenly!

See High Point Homes For Sale

My lovely home in High Point in West Seattle (along with a few others belonging to my neighbors!)

Urban Agriculture in Seattle – a decade long personal gardening saga comes full circle

I started urban gardening in Seattle in 1999, in the back yard of a friend of mine about 3 miles from where I lived in West Seattle. She provided the space and materials, and we provided the labor. It proved difficult to remember to drive the 10 minutes each way to water during that hot summer and some of the food was wasted. And it was lonely there. So in 2000 I moved to Marra Farm P-Patch in South Park. But the crab grass down there drove me crazy – even working nearby and going over to my garden after work it seemed like all I did was weed weed weed.

In 2001 we bought our first house and I moved to Delridge P-Patch in 2002 after changing jobs and South Park being the wrong direction for my work commute. I gardened in Delridge for three seasons then moved my gardening home to my quarter acre lot. I joined the Board of Directors of P-Patch Trust in 2004, and became Secretary.

I adopted a dog in 2005 and was not as attentive to my p-patch as I should have been, driving the mile to the garden to water at about the time I knew I didn’t all my plants would die. The dog was bored sitting there while all I did was weed weed weed – not crab grass this time but something equally obnoxious. My next-door neighbor took down a beautiful Douglas fir tree in his yard – which I hated him for – but now I had sun in my yard so I moved my gardenign home. Health conditions made it impossible for me to maintain the garden at the standard I believed it should be at beginning in 2004 which was also another reason to move home. But I was sick of essentially standing on my head weeding. You kneel, dig with one hand pull with the other and your feet fall asleep. Or you lean on one arm and work wth the other. It was just work. The occasional tomato or strawberry just did not make it worth it. The big windstorm of December 2006 took down the massive trees on our own lot and it just wasn’t the same after that. Then the dandelions and creeping buttercup got the best of me and we sold the property in 2007 and moved to High Point. To a townhome. With no yard. Where you actually get in trouble for messing around with the plants in front of your house. I am in heaven.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a garden. We dug up all of the plants I loved and brought them with us – I have a 200 square foot deck garden on the north side of my home filled with massive pots of hostas, huckleberry and salal and sword fern, maidenhair fern, many herbs and types of mint (for mojitos!), pots of bamboo, and some miscellaneous pots of shade preferring plants that a neighbor in the building facing us gave to us because her deck faced west and her plants were dying. And on my front porch, which faces south, I actually grow tomatoes, banana pepper and strawberries in pots, too. And other various edibles that I find entertaining. Oh, I have an amazing Meyer lemon tree that I have been babying since 2007 that is now in full bloom and it smells wonderful. And a small lime shrub. (Photo gallery below is the “Plots To Pots” transformation)

I’ve been walking past the p-patch garden built in the last year in Commons Park and wished I could be a part of the gardening community, but my health just won’t let me crawl around on the ground and garden. I still know most of the Seattle P-Patch staff and the Board of Directors (which I left in 2007 after 3 years of service), and whenever I would see the garden coordinator I would bug her for an ADA raised planter so that I and others like myself could garden while standing up. This is why gardening in pots has been so wonderful for me – I don’t have to bend, stoop or crawl to pull the occasional piss of grass or stalk of Herb Robert (also called “Stinky Bob” ). Completely manageable. (And don’t tell anyone, but I still pull the occasional dandelion out in front of my house.)

On Friday the dog and I walked by and the ADA planter was finally there – a wooden shell with just a bit of dirt thrown in the bottom, clearly waiting for someone to finish filling it. I sent an email to my p-patch contact, and she gave me a link to go get on the waiting list for the standing garden planter. I don’t know if anyone else has reserved it, or if it’s truly got my name on it since I have been asking for it for a few years. It looks like my gardening experience is coming full circle. A decade or more of growing plants in the city – so many ways to do it. I am looking forward to being part of a gardening community again. And it will be so easy to water every morning that it needs it since I walk the dog all over the neighborhood three times a day anyway. (I just hope no one steals my food!! I am afraid the planter might be a target.)

The email I got back from the form that I filled out on the web site to get on the waiting list offered some fantastic resources for eager gardeners who want to get their hands dirty sooner rather than later. For me, I can wait until this stand-up gardening space is ready for a gardener. But 10 years ago I was desperate to grow my own lettuce and tomatoes and lemon cucumbers and this information is very valuable to eager urban gardeners in Seattle.

While you’re waiting for a P-Patch community garden plot:

With the huge and growing interest in gardening and urban agriculture, you will have to wait awhile before getting a community garden plot. Some of the following websites may help get you gardening sooner.

Urban Garden Share http://www.urbangardenshare.org/  and Urban Land Army http://www.urbanlandarmy.com/ click on Land Link. These two web sites try to connect those who have spare land with those who want to garden

2010 Year of Urban Agriculture: The city sponsored web site is part of Seattle’s 2010 Year of Urban Agriculture; it list news, events and activities http://www.seattle.gov/urbanagriculture/

Urban Farm Hub. This local websites compiles an amazing amount of urban agriculture related news. http://www.urbanfarmhub.org

Community Harvest of West Seattle, Garden Helpers – Connecting New Gardeners with Community Mentors and Community Orchard. Learn more at www.gleanit.org

Solid Ground- Lettuce Link (an innovative food and gardening program growing and giving since 1988) creates access to fresh, nutritious and organic produce, seeds, and gardening information for families with lower incomes in Seattle. To learn more and get involved at http://www.solid-ground.org/Programs/Nutrition/Lettuce/Pages/default.aspx

Alleycat Acres an urban farm collective – “transforms vacant spaces to create a network of sustainable urban farms that reconnect people to food while helping to increase food security on a community level.” To Learn more visit their website at http://www.alleycatacres.com/

City Fruit works neighborhood by neighborhood to help residential tree owners grow healthy fruit, to harvest and use what they can, and to share what they don’t need. To get involved visit their website at http://cityfruit.org/

Spring into Bed http://www.springintobed.org/  is a grass-roots, city wide, garden building event and fundraiser – building, strengthening and celebrating the City’s flourishing community food systems

Garden your planting strip: Seattle Department of Transportation does allow gardening on planting strips with a simple permit. Click here for more information.

The photo gallery below is from my “Plots To Pots” experience – moving cherished and loved plants from our 1/4 acre lot near Puget Ridge into pots up the hill in High Point. It’s easy to remember to water these plants since they are right here – and it takes about 10 trips from the kitchen with my watering can to water everything. (Watering is the only time I really hate my low-flow water faucet. It takes so LONG to fill up the watering can!!)

Seed Rain ~ or ~ Bad Bird Poo

GreenSpacesTV — June 12, 2010 — Wendy checks in with her friend Steve Richmond at the Seattle Green Festival. He owns a business that removes invasives and restores native plants in their rightful habitat. He was telling people that if they let wild birds eat the berries off invasives like ivy or holly, the birds then poo it in flight and that’s how the seeds spread so rapidly. Save our forests!

greenfest day one recap

Wow what a day! I think I got to almost all of the booths, altho knowing I was coming back on Sunday meant there wasn’t too much pressure. I actually only went to 2 sessions altho I had marked a few more out. The conversations on the exhibit floor were too interesting to walk away from. And there are about 4 pavilions with presentations going on in addition to the formal presentations in the conference rooms across the overpass.

At the end of the day my husband Stephen came and picked me up with Sophia,who needed a walk. It was the first sunny day in what seemed like weeks, so we went to the Olympic Sculpture Park just to lie on the grass. It was a great end to a long day, and my feet hurt!

I do think the nice weather really impacted the turnout at greenfest. There weren’t any lines (except at the Nature’s Path cereal sample booth) and there seemed to be room at tables to sit and eat lunch. Last year it seemed a lot more hectic to me. Last year it also was in March, not June. I think they made a mistake moving it to June. Summer in Seattle means outdoors, not in. I hope next year they move back to an earlier month so the vendors enjoy the exposure they deserve.

So we’re leaving the house and headed down for day two. Steve will be with me today, and I did finally find my friend Steve Richmond’s booth, Garden Cycles, so we hope to shoot a short video. Otherwise I did not really find anything else worth taking the time for video.

How our day ended:

DSCN5022  DSCN5023  DSCN5029  DSCN5030

Seattle Green Factor is nationally recognized

Seattle Green Factor is nationally recognized

I’ve not actually talked much about Seattle’s Green Factor initiative, and I will work on a post about that.

In the meantime, the American Society of Landscape Architects awarded the Green Factor a 2010 ASLA Professional Award in the Planning and Analysis category. The ASLA Washington State chapter awarded a Research and Communications award to “Functional Landscapes: Assessing Elements of Seattle’s Green Factor” by The Berger Partnership.

See more about the Seattle Green Factor program online.