LEED Silver Townhouses

[ Photo: Dan Bertolet ]

Seattle’s first LEED certified townhouses, designed by OPA, built by Cascade Built. Located in the Central Area, at 712 26th S (one block west of MLK Way, two blocks south of Jackson), currently priced at $450k.

They claim these townhouses will be 30-50% more energy efficient than a typical home. That’s pretty impressive given that they haven’t done anything that radical. The most unusual feature: heat recovery ventilation.

And my favorite detail: they’ve set up wiring and plumbing for future installation of photovoltaics and solar hot water. I don’t believe there are any LEED points to be had for this sort of pre-setup, which suggests that the builder did it simply because it’s the right thing to do. Bravo.

The one unfortunate aspect of this project, which you won’t see in the real estate photos, is the siting. As shown below, the building is on the back half of a standard single-family lot, jammed in behind an existing house. It is completely paved between the two buildings. Nor is there an alley for access to the back side (shown in the upper photo). Too bad that this innovative project is on such a clunker of a site.

[ Photo: Dan Bertolet ]

12 Responses to “LEED Silver Townhouses”

  1. Dan Staley

    This is where LEED falls short, and LEED-ND needs to tweak its point scale; OTOH, one can still build a non-LEED house but sustainably on that site, we just wouldn’t have a rating system failure to cluck our tongues at.

    But perhaps a solution: in Denver this coming March, the RMLUI will unveil the results of its sustainable code initiative. I’ll of course pick up extras for my peeps.

  2. Sloan Ritchie

    In response to your posting about the LEED Silver townhomes, here’s a quick summary of the main things we did to exceed code energy efficiency – some are LEED requirements, some are LEED optional points, and as you pointed out, some are not measured by the LEED system:

    # Advanced Framing (24″ on center wall studs, 2-stud corners, drywall clips) means less wood and more insulation in the exterior walls (25-30% less wood & more insulation)
    # Blown-in insulation – instead of the cheapest “batts” we used dense pack blown-in insulation to improve R-value
    # Air Sealing – One of the advantages of LEED certification is they measure the air tightness of the building and won’t certify until you hit a certain level. We didn’t measure up on the first test, so we went back and improved until we could meet the standard (turns out one of the subcontractors had made a mistake that resulted in some building envelope air leakage).
    # Energy Efficient Windows – Code requires U-factor of .40, we were less than .32 average, a significant contribution to overall efficiency.
    # Heat Recovery Vent – ventilate without losing heat, about 65% efficient, so on a 30F day you’re bringing in 55F degree outside air. Most houses use window trickle vents, which let in 30 F air on a 30 F day.
    # Tankless hot water – don’t pay for “standby loss” with a hot water tank. Just heat the water you are using. Up to 50% water heating cost savings.
    # Daylighting – natural light floods this home, so you won’t need the lights, except after dark
    # Energy Star Advanced Lighting Package – use of mostly fluorescent lighting reduces lighting costs by up to 75%
    # Radiant heat – efficiency claims for radiant heat are more abundant than the evidence to support those claims, but there it’s probably somewhat more efficient.


  3. gw

    Recognizing that I’m unlikely to kindle any further discussion, I can’t keep quiet on this. Yes, it was admirable of the developer to include a rough-in for solar water heating, but let’s hope they left plenty of space to install a hundred+ gallon storage tank where the tankless heater sits. -Being that tankless heaters and solar don’t work together. Perhaps it wasn’t so well thought out. Maybe that’s what the 10’x20′ concrete slab with the roll-up door on the lower level is for….

  4. Matt the Engineer

    Actually, I can see solar water heaters working well with tankless heaters. Here are two options:

    1. Normal water heater sized insulated storage tank, small recirc pump. Water temperature increases as sun shines, preheating water for tankless water heater.

    2. No storage, just solar water heaters. Again, solar pre-heats water for tankless water heater. You’d have reduced energy storage capacity, but it will definitely help when hot water is coincident with sun energy. Besides, many solar hot water heaters have some storage built in.

    Why would you ever need 100+ gallon storage for domestic hot water? Do you take reaaaaly long showers?

  5. dan cortland

    Too bad that this innovative project is on such a clunker of a site.

    Can sustainable design of infill be based on site analysis?

    At least it’s not orange.

  6. Jasmin Frieze

    I think a beautiful flat need operate a solar water heater,it’s more convinent,Then I you introduce a company to you.Ejai Solar main products are solar water heater, solar collector and solar energy projects, which are highly recommendable for environmental protection.

  7. Clayton Juedes

    I approve with youSolar Water Heater,Solar Collector.

  8. Palmira Slisz

    Solar Lighting is a kind of environment friendly energy lamp. Favorably supply various Solar Lighting,Garden solar lighting,Solar Roadway Lights,Solar LED Light.

  9. Leo King

    We have installed a solar water heater at home and it is also as good as conventional water heaters.,’,

  10. Juan Torres

    Solar water heater is a very good technology because it helps conserve electrical energy for heating;.,

  11. Floating Shelves

    the good thing about solar water heaters is that they can help you conserve energy -:,

  12. TANKSHOTS (1) | citytank

    […] before too long.  But directly behind that empty lot on MLK Way in the Central District is the city’s first LEED-certified townhouse project, which is shooting for at least a 30 percent reduction in energy use compared to the current […]

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