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Gem of Innovation:  Eric Thomas & Alexandra Salmon's affordable zero energy home.

Gem of Innovation: Eric Thomas & Alexandra Salmon's affordable zero energy home.

Eric Thomas and Alexandra Salmon wanted to build themselves an affordable "net-zero energy" home that would produce as much energy as it uses. But they had to stay within their budget which in burgeoning Seattle is not easy to say the least. Their dreams came true easier than you might think, when they met Ted Clifton, an energy efficient builder based in Whidbey Island, WA.

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Gems of Innovation:  Ben Ferguson pioneers Tacoma Work-Live code amendments

Gems of Innovation: Ben Ferguson pioneers Tacoma Work-Live code amendments

Ben Ferguson, an architect with a passion for historic preservation recently worked with Oakland-based architect Tom Dolan, to propose new code amendments that encourage redevelopment of the City’s large stock of unreinforced masonry buildings.

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Gems of Innovation: Sage Green innovates with “ply-on-foam” wall assembly

Gems of Innovation: Sage Green innovates with “ply-on-foam” wall assembly

Ben Walsh of Green One Construction built “Sage Green,” a development in Beaverton, OR with five net-zero energy homes using the unique “Martha Wall” ply-on-foam wall assembly we’ve posted on previously, to achieve 40% more energy efficiency than standard construction (R-33). With a goal of affordability, they used least cost and familiar 2x8 wood construction, a near-standard framing technique that made their assembly cost-effective and familiar ...

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Gems of Innovation: Amazon.com taps District Energy from nearby data center

Gems of Innovation: Amazon.com taps District Energy from nearby data center

To heat 3 million square feet of new office space in Seattle, Amazon partnered with Clise properties, McKinstry, and City of Seattle Dept. of Transportation to gain approval to use a city right-of-way to transfer thermal energy between buildings. According to Amazon, their newest buildings will be heated with an “EcoDistrict” approach by recycling energy from a nearby data center.

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Living Gems of Innovation:  The Bullitt Center harvests rainwater for potable use

Living Gems of Innovation: The Bullitt Center harvests rainwater for potable use

The Bullitt Center in Seattle exemplifies “Code Innovations for Living Buildings” because it took numerous code variances and policy innovations to get it permitted and built. One of those innovations, inspired by the Living Building Challenge’s (LBC) “net-zero water” imperative, is still awaiting approval after more than 2 years: harvesting rainwater for potable (drinking water) use in a public building.

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Gems of Innovation: Code Innovations for Living Buildings are “Living Gems”

Gems of Innovation: Code Innovations for Living Buildings are “Living Gems”

Chris van Daalen and Andrew Lee recently gave a presentation “Code Innovations for Living Buildings” to a packed house at Paladino and Co. in downtown Seattle. They told a remarkable story about policy innovations happening around Puget Sound, helping overcome regulatory barriers and incentivize buildings that meet the “Living Building Challenge” (LBC) the world’s most rigorous green building standard.

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Gems of Innovation: Molly Winter of ReCode is legalizing composting toilets

Gems of Innovation: Molly Winter of ReCode is legalizing composting toilets

Strict standards in health and sanitation codes can be some of the hardest regulatory barriers for innovators to overcome. For good reason, proper sanitation design and maintenance practices are essential to protect public health. In 2014, Molly Winter of ReCode worked with a stellar group of experts from 2020 Engineering, the Rich Earth Institute and others to legalize composting toilets the right way! They wrote a model national plumbing code for composting toilets ...

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Gems of Innovation: Terry Phelan credits the Guild with helping her Innovate

Gems of Innovation: Terry Phelan credits the Guild with helping her Innovate

Terry K Phelan, architect and past-president of the NW EcoBuilding Guild shares her thoughts on the importance of the Guild's grassroots network of innovators, and the need to document their breakthroughs. The Guild "is supported mainly through membership, but projects like the Code Innovations Database deserve additional support ...

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Chris van Daalen interview on the Code Innovations Database

Chris van Daalen interview on the Code Innovations Database

In an archival Radio Interview, Guild Education Coordinator Chris van Daalen gave an interview about the Code Innovations Database on the Eco-logical Home Podcast with host Terry K Phelan. Although this interview was conducted over 3 years ago, it still captures the essence of what we've been working toward from 2011 until now...

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Gems of Innovation:  zHome the first permitted "rainwater for indoor use" in Issaquah

Gems of Innovation: zHome the first permitted "rainwater for indoor use" in Issaquah

zHome is a groundbreaking “Net Zero Energy” townhome project completed in 2012 in Issaquah WA. It grew from an unprecedented partnership led by the City of Issaquah with King County, private property owners and the developer Ichijo, USA. Built Green Program Manager Leah Missik writes “It was the first project in Issaquah that was permitted to use rainwater for indoor use, and, as a result, helped change code and add flexibility for other green building innovations.”

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Gems of Innovation:  Joseph Becker's Super Insulated Light Earth wall

Gems of Innovation: Joseph Becker's Super Insulated Light Earth wall

Joseph Becker has won code approval for projects using strawbale, straw-clay insulation and “open diffusion” wall systems. Joseph’s latest approved project is a Super Insulated Light Earth wall system with traditional 2x6 stud walls, cavities filled with “light earth” clay-straw insulation, with rigid cork insulation on the outside.

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Gems of Innovation: Joseph Becker's Story of Mud

Gems of Innovation: Joseph Becker's Story of Mud

A few years ago, several Guild leaders took a class on digital storytelling together. Here is Joseph's beautiful, inspiring video. If he were on Facebook, he would urge you to make a generous donation to our "Crowdrise" campaign to expand the Code Innovations Database Since he's not, I'll do it for him! Please give and enjoy "Joseph's Story of Mud"

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Gems of Innovation:  Chris Herman and Iron Straw Group's 1st Load Bearing Strawbale

Gems of Innovation: Chris Herman and Iron Straw Group's 1st Load Bearing Strawbale

In addition to being a renewable energy guru and elder statesman of the NW EcoBuilding Guild, Chris Herman is also a natural building innovator. The year 2000 he worked with the IronStraw Group in Cashmere, Washington to design and win a permit for the first load-bearing strawbale house in Chelan County. Then they built the house in 2 days with a volunteer team of at-risk youth, led by IronStraw champions Michael and Spring Thomas. Eight years later in the 2013 International Code Council adopted the first-ever appendix on straw bale construction …

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Gems of Innovation:  Chris Herman, 1st Permitted Solar PV with Seattle City Light

Gems of Innovation: Chris Herman, 1st Permitted Solar PV with Seattle City Light

Chris Herman is a co-Founder of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild and an extraordinary innovator who has broken new ground with green building, solar and other renewable energies for over two decades. He owns Winter Sun Design, and also works for Sunergy Systems. In our second video in the “Gems” Series, Chris describes the painstaking process of helping the City of Seattle permit the first Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system installed under permit, for Seattle City Light's North Service Center in the year 2000.

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Gems of Innovation:  NK Architects introduces policy innovation from Brussels

Gems of Innovation: NK Architects introduces policy innovation from Brussels

Gems of Innovation#6: NK Architects recently welcomed a delegation from Brussels, Belgium including architects, trade officials and their Secretary of State, to share the remarkable story of their mandatory Passive House building code standards adopted in 2015. It began in 2007, when they launched an “EcoBuilding Cluster” and gained incentives for “exemplary buildings” – very low energy, economical and beautiful. Since then there have been 5 million...

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Gems of Innovation:  Dan Welch pioneers with Sanden CO2

Gems of Innovation: Dan Welch pioneers with Sanden CO2

Dan Welch of [bundle] design studio in Bellingham, WA recently built a home he hopes will produce more energy than it uses, a net-zero energy home. One key is the Sanden CO2 Heat Pump Water Heater, technology which delivers both space- and water-heating in one unit, with superior performance. There’s just one hitch – it doesn’t have a UL listing required by the building code.

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Gems of Innovation: Poppy's Masonry Hearthwarmer

Gems of Innovation: Poppy's Masonry Hearthwarmer

Poppy Sandoval of Lacey Washington who was President of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild South Sound Chapter in 2004, is the innovator whose Masonry Heater was the very first case study published in the Database. She won approval for her project through extensive research, hands-on training from recognized experts, and sharing what she learned with the code official in repeated meetings and two 3” thick binders of data to back up her application.

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Gems of Innovation:  The Martha Wall by Martha Rose

Gems of Innovation: The Martha Wall by Martha Rose

Martha Rose, EcoBuilding leader and past-President of King-Sno Master Builders Association, pioneered a breakthrough in affordable, energy-efficient home construction: The “Martha Wall” assembly adds a sheet of rigid foam insulation to standard 2x6 framing, sandwiched between the studs and the “shear wall” sheathing that covers it. Her innovative assembly makes a complete thermal barrier to reduce heat loss, and surprisingly increases seismic performance of the wall! Martha says “these details will become part of the Code Innovations Data Base, so that other builders can use them along with the information to show to a Code official.”

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Gems of Innovation: Architect Ross Chapin makes Pocket Neighborhoods Legal

Gems of Innovation: Architect Ross Chapin makes Pocket Neighborhoods Legal

Architect Ross Chapin well known for pioneering “Cottage Housing” is a trailblazer who has worked tirelessly to update zoning codes from the 1950s that often preclude such development. Now he’s promoting Pocket Neighborhoods as infill courts to larger developments, and regulations to allow them.

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Gems of Innovation: Tad Everhart's FutureFit Home

Gems of Innovation: Tad Everhart's FutureFit Home

Stories of green building innovators - the virtual R&D Department for Tomorrow's Building Industry!Tad Everhart, gained approval for non-UL ListedSanden CO2 heat pump water heater energy, in his Portland Oregon home, part of a passive house retrofit

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