Signs of spring are all around us, finally! Birds singing, flowers blooming and the return of The Northwest Green Home Tour. This self-guided tour will give the public the opportunity to see what is currently available for green building across Puget Sound. The South Sound Northwest Green Home Tour begins in Olympia on Saturday, May 4, and continues in Tacoma on Sunday, May 5. The tour runs from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on both days. The tour will also occur in Seattle on both days.
The Northwest Green Home Tour is one of the signature events of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild. The tour is an annual educational event, open to the public that showcases local, sustainable, and green new homes, remodels, and energy retrofits in the Puget Sound area. Take a look at some of the best green buildings, energy efficient homes, and net zero homes on the market, including multifamily residential, single family residential, and mixed used buildings.
There will be commercial sites that function as sustainability stops, to connect tourgoers with green building businesses. And the West Central Park Hub will bring together businesses at many different booths to provide information on how they can help homeowners, home buyers and renters to be greener in their choices.
“We believe everyone should have a healthy, comfortable, energy efficient home that they can afford to live in,” says Chris van Dallan, executive director of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild, “Energy costs are a large part of the affordability question as well as being a major component in sustainability.”
There are many different levels of green. The light green homes have taken small steps towards greener living with energy efficient features. Some green-ready homes are designed to implement features like solar panels at some point in the future, but in the meantime, they have taken advantage of design features and green placement.
Then, there are deep green homes, such as a passive house building: a super-efficient airtight, well-insulated building featuring a special heat recovery ventilation system with rainwater harvesting and other super green features.
“Passive homes are so energy efficient, they only require the amount of heat produced by a hair dryer to keep them warm in the winter,” says van Dallan. “You can actually have a home with zero energy bill. We have the technology and the industry skill to do that at very little cost increase from normal building.”
Here are just a few of the many stops on the Olympia portion of the tour:
Annie’s Artist Flats
Featuring an energy retrofit and green roof, this urban infill includes durable materials, energy efficient LED lighting, and a cool roof to improve energy efficiency among other green features. The site is completely ADA Accessible, equipped with elevator access.
Materials conservation, energy retrofit, and a green roof are some of the other main features of Annie’s Art Studios. The public will get their first chance to take a look at this site, which is still under construction. ADA accessibility will be limited.
Small Planet Supply
One of the tour’s Sustainability Stops, Small Planet Supply takes advantage of energy efficiency, stormwater management and an advanced building envelope. Certified LEED, Passive House, Net Zero Energy, and Living Building Challenge, Small Planet Supply is the leading west coast distributor of high performance and green building products. This stop is sure to inspire green renovation.
Hub at West Central Park
West Central Park, a model of low-impact development, will be the Hub for this year’s tour. An expo where many different businesses will come together with information booths and demonstrations. This stop is ideally located between several Olympia tour sites, making the hub a great place to sign-in, pick up a Northwest Green Tour map and explore the possibilities of sustainable living on display.
Olympia Federal Savings, a Sustaining Sponsor for the South Sound portion for the tour, will be located at the Hub. OlyFed provides lending to Thurston, Mason and surrounding counties. “Because we don’t sell our loans on the secondary market, we can provide buyers with more lending options for green building choices,” says Barbara Whitlow, AVP/residential relationship manager for OlyFed.
“We created loans that offer added benefits for energy efficient homes, and we have two types, the energy efficient mortgage and the retrofit H.E.L.P. mortgage.” Whitlow has noticed growth in interest and usage of OlyFed’s green mortgage programs as the public has moved towards sustainability and become aware of the lending options.
There will be many builders, suppliers and businesses featured on the tour. Among those are Thomas Architecture Studios, PCS Structural Solutions, Artisans Group, SouthSound Solar, and Bicycle Homebuilding Co., just to name a few. Tickets are available for the Northwest Green Home Tour online, for a suggested donation of $10.
A $25 “Tour Lovers” donation will help support the EcoBuilding Guild. Tickets cover both days of the tour. Register for tickets online to be eligible for a great raffle prize.