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Mini Apartments and Next-Wave Prefab, Part 3

This blog series profiles a new prefab development in San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood—a LEED Platinum-targeted building containing 23 "micro-studios." Built in a California factory in a month and assembled on-site in just four days, these 300-square-foot units are paving the path to a new approach to prefab—and to small-space city living. PART THREE: Factory construction and on-site assembly. Harriet Street represents the culmination of ZETA Communities’s original vision to build ultra-green multifamily and urban prefab buildings. Prefab multifamily projects have been built all over the world as global developers have realized the benefits; witness this time-lapse video (with almost five million views) of a 30-story modular building erected in just 15 days in China.
October 24, 2012
The Cedar River Watershed is a working forest resource in King County for lumber products and drinking water.

Building a Zero-Energy Community: Part 9

Project Manager Brad Liljequist chronicles the building of zHome, a ten-unit townhome in Issaquah, Washington—the first multifamily zero-energy community in the United States. Part 9: Social equity through green material selection Note from Brad Liljequist: Patti Southard has been involved in zHome since its beginning in 2006 and has helped inspire and leverage its core goal of market transformation in myriad ways. She'll be guest-posting for the next two installments of the zHome blog.    
January 26, 2012
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A Zero-Energy Community: Part 8

Project Manager Brad Liljequist chronicles the building of zHome, a ten-unit townhome in Issaquah, Washington—the first multifamily zero-energy community in the United States. Part 8: How it ends... Because I’ve been talking so much about various aspects of construction on prior posts, I’m going to skip that story, and jump to the grand finale—our education and media rollout.
January 4, 2012
At our initial design charrette, we consolidated around the site plan concept that exists today. Integrated design over time proved to be challenging due to the run fast/stop/run fast aspect of the project, changing builder partners, and scheduling challe

Building a Zero-Energy Community: Part 7

Project Manager Brad Liljequist chronicles the building of the zHome, a ten-unit townhome in Issaquah, Washington—the first multifamily zero-energy community in the United States. Part 7: Finding a new builder partner.   In our last blog, we described the early days of zHome. The story rolls on with us facing our first hurdle—finding a new builder partner.   In Spring of 2008, we were informed by our initial builder partner that they needed to pull out of the project. After working so hard to push the project forward quickly, including design team selection, initial design charrettes, energy modeling and finishing schematic design, it was a rough blow.   
December 21, 2011
Aaron Adelstein is the Built Green Executive Director and has been an essential contributor to the project from the beginning. The Built Green program is now planning to make a new certification level based on zHome.

A Zero-Energy Community: Part 6

Project Manager Brad Liljequist chronicles the building of zHome, a ten-unit townhome in Issaquah, Washington—the first multifamily zero-energy community in the United States. Part 6: The Backstory... Having already gone into the nitty-gritty of green materials and stormwater management, and chronicled the making-of a zero-energy building, I thought I'd back up even further, and talk a bit about how zHome originally came to be.   The project officially started life in March of 2006, when I brought a small group of regional green building innovators together with a common vision to build a community which radically redefined the environmental footprint of production housing. We each played leadership roles in green building in our respective organizations, which included the City of Issaquah (represented by David Fujimoto and me, working as a consultant with GordonDerr to the City), Built Green (Aaron Adelstein), King County GreenTools (Patti Southard and Katie Spataro, who now works for the Cascadia Green Building Council), and Chuck Murray (then with Washington State University Energy Program, now with the WA State Department of Commerce).
December 7, 2011
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Time-Lapse Prefab

I interviewed Peter Anderson of Anderson Anderson Architecture for our "American Prefab: A Shopper's Guide" story in the December/January issue, and found the firm's backstory and approach to prefab inspiring. The brothers trace their interest in modular buildings back to the toys their parents supplied them with when they were kids, including Lincoln Logs and Legos. Today they design all manner of buildings, prefab and otherwise, as well as experimental building systems, like steel building components built on the same production line as shipping containers.
November 22, 2011
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A Zero-Energy Community: Part 5

Project Manager Brad Liljequist chronicles the building of the zHome, a ten-unit townhome in Issaquah, Washington—the first multifamily zero-energy community in the United States. Part 5: How do ground source heat pumps and solar panels work?   Two of our most central technologies in achieving zero net energy are our ground source heat pump system (for heating and hot water), and our solar panels (which generate electricity). The two account for about 60% of getting to zero net energy, so obviously they play a key role.  Ground source heat pumps are a well-known technology, but are generally not mainstream, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. The system combines three highly efficient processes which together result in a system which over three times more efficient than a typical forced air furnace. The slides give a good narrative to how the system works, but if you’d like more details, check out the ground source system sign from the zHome education signage—it is the second sign in sign package one. Solar energy, surprisingly, works quite well in the Northwest—solar panels here put out about 70% of the solar energy of a panel in Sacramento. Solar energy quietly is becoming more and more cost effective, with prices coming down and efficiency going up. Currently solar panels convert about 15-20% of the solar energy hitting them to energy—quite efficient when you consider that photosynthesis is only a half a percent efficient! Also, solar panels are quite durable—many panels from the 1970’s are still functioning well.  There is little to go wrong in them. Given how little maintenance they require (simple occasional  cleaning) there is a huge amount going for them.  
November 16, 2011
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Highlights of Dwell Design Lab

This past weekend I attended Dwell's first annual Design Lab, which took over a raw penthouse space in the new Millenium Tower in San Francisco's SOMA district and spotlighted 13 local designers. (My colleague Diana Budds offers a good overview of the event here.) After a festive, Kim Crawford Wine-fueled Friday night reception, I spent Saturday afternoon wandering through the show, chatting with the designers about their work and their display spaces. Here are a few of the highlights I spotted... 
October 31, 2011
Achieving zero net energy required integration with every aspect of zHome’s design. Even in initial site planning, we had to take into account solar heat gain and ensuring clear solar access to each unit’s roof.

A Zero-Energy Community: Part 2

Project Manager Brad Liljequist chronicles the building of the zHome, a ten-unit townhome in Issaquah, Washington—the first multifamily zero-energy community in the United States. Part 2: Building REALLY green... It's easier than you think. Forty percent. That’s the share of total CO2 emissions each year in the US that comes from energy used in buildings. Building operations—heating, cooling, lighting, and everything else inside the walls—are the single largest generator of carbon dioxide in the country. It’s an easy thing to forget about, sort of like background noise. But it’s there, humming along, 24/7.
September 28, 2011
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