Locally-made Building materials:

Premier SIP in Fife manufactures panels I have used in many projects.

Paperstone makes recycled paper/resin  panels for countertops, desks, and ledges.

If you can get down to Hoquiam and have a truck you can buy off-size pieces of Paperstone for a discount, from Green Countertops Direct.

Windfall Lumber in Tumwater, WA designs and manufactures architectural products made from reclaimed, salvaged, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood, the label to look for if you want sustainably harvested wood in your house.

BUILD TIGHT AND SNUG, AND VENTILATE RIGHT

I worked with Sarah Susanka In Minnesota when she was formulating the ideas about building thoughtful and comfortable homes rather than large and ill-proportioned homes that led to her excellent books.  I was fortunate to have my first job out of architecture school with Sarah, and she greatly influenced me. Her ideas about place-making were rooted in Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language, a wonderful book I read as a young architecture student and have never forgotten. More and more, people are seeing the advantage of smaller homes and thoughtful designs, a trend I see as good for residential architecture, communities, and the world.

I believe that sustainability starts with the not-so-big. Using fewer resources and having a smaller footprint on the land is the most obvious way to be earth-wise. Building smaller demands a more efficient use of space in designs. Making the best use of space requires a lot of work, but good design can create spaces that are well-connected and create a sense of  openness.

The family homes I have designed are typically 2,000 to 2,400 square feet, with some on either side. I have designed some smaller houses that are even smaller. My designs for the local Habitat for Humanity organization range from 1,200-1,800 square feet, many of which will house families of six.  I have designed many  smaller cottages, some in co-housing communities and many for retirees, mostly single women. Recently I designed a home for one of my oldest friends in a co-housing community on Whidbey Island at 975 square feet.

RESPONSIBLE

Remodeling re-purposes existing homes to meet our contemporary needs. My remodeling projects have run the gamut, from major projects to more focused ones. In some cases it makes sense to replace a house rather than remodel.  There are local options for the disposal of building debris that keeps as much of it as possible out of the landfill. Many materials removed from older homes can be recycled or salvaged. Salvage retail stores will come and get items out of your home before you do any demolition during a remodel project.

Earthwise in east Tacoma has been my go-to spot  for architectural salvage products. They are located by a a mill and there you can find awesome re-milled salvage timbers!

I have worked with many clients who are interested in resource conservation and energy efficiency. Many of them prioritize using natural materials, renewable resource and healthy products in home construction.  Energy-efficient construction and tight building practices are not only becoming the norm but are now required by the building codes.

 

Whether you want a certified Energy Star, Green Built, Passivhaus, or just a smartly built home, I have designed houses using many of the different products and technologies that are available to build smart. I will work with you to set your priorities and reach your goals. As a Passivhaus consultant, I have training in the principles of "built tight and ventilation right," the foundations for building sustainably.

NOT-SO-BIG

Insulation options are more numerous today then in the past. Spray-in applications can achieve better results but loose fill and batt insulation are still most common. Some of my favorite building components integrate the insulation into the structural system. Structural Insulated Panels, or SIPs, have expanded insulation sandwiched between layers of sheathing, creating a panel that is particularly good for roof construction. The seams are sealed tight, offering great insulation values per inch of framing. Insulated Concrete Forms, or ICFs, are large lego-like blocks that are stacked to form walls and have hollow cores that are filled with concrete to provide structural strength. They are made from various insulating materials, with higher values then standard walls can provide.  I like designing with ICFs. The walls are thicker than standard framed walls and give a home a distinct, cozy feel.

As we have begun building tighter, ventilation demands have increased. There are lots of good products available. Kitchen hoods often do too good of a  job pulling air out of the kitchen! Installing a big fan is easy. Making sure we control where the  fresh, "make-up" air comes from when we turn on the big bathroom or kitchen fan is the harder chore.  Heat recovery ventilation systems are a smart way to bring in fresh air for balanced distribution and energy recovery.

Heating and Cooling in the Pacific Northwest is not as challenging as other places, of course. Heat pumps work well in our climate and the ductless minisplit options have worked well in many of my designs.  Radiant floor heat is a wonderful heating system, as it warms you and not the air.

Building Green

Some building products I like to use or hope to use are linked to below:

Lumos E2, through-wall heat recovery ventilators that do not require ducting!

Whole house ventilation fan; a smart, efficient and quiet bath fan that can run continually and quietly at  low speed, and has an occupancy sensor to boost the exhaust rate when you enter the bathroom.

ICF's for home construction, an article about building with insulated concrete forms

Faswall is an ICF made in Oregon from woodchips and cement.

RESPONSIBLE /RESOURCE WISE

Ceramic tiles, made in the Nalley Valley with zero transportation costs!

ICF walls (made by Rastra) in a

Bellingham home

SIP panels going up on a Habitat for Humanity house.