Seattle’s Green Home Tour 2015

Seattle’s Green Home Tour 2015

It’s hard to believe it’s time once again for the NW Green Home Tour. This year be sure to sign up for a free ticket through Eventbrite, either download the guide from the website or pick up a copy of the Seattle Weekly. This year, the tour has grown so much it makes more sense than ever to have the event over two days on the weekend.

Smart Homes
Seattle’s Tour of High Performance Homes

April  25-26th 2015 are the days this year from 11-5. On Saturday interested attendees can tour the Eastside, and Central sites. Check out 21 Acres in Woodinville which is having their own mini show of sorts. So many things to see at one place. Sunday is reserved  for the sites in North Seattle. As usual this region has the densest clusters of green homes on the tour. Many people like to walk or bike this part of the tour (last year we had people arrive with a growler cage on their bike).

NW Green Home Tour
These NWGHT 2014 attendees came in style. On their bikes complete with a growler cage on their bike

Are you looking for remodeling ideas, want to know what a rain garden is, or interested in meeting service providers one on one? All of these objectives can be met on this weekend.

It’s strongly recommended by experts, OK maybe just me….that you start early in the day with a game plan:

  • Where comfortable slip on shoes, you will be in people’s private homes, let’s show the hosts we appreciate their generousity
  • Print up a schedule ahead of time and mark the “must sees’ depending on your interests and timelines
  • Bring a camera, notebook, umbrella, bottled water and what ever else you might need. It’s possible you might encounter a rare line this year
  • Bring a snack, you may not want to take the time to eat out once you see how great some of these sites are and want to see as many as possible
  • Bring your printed ticket to show you have registered and have read the legal waiver
  • Bring a cheerful attitude and an open mind, this tour can be fun! As well as very educational

The hope is the tour will ‘normalize”the concept of high performance homes for the unfamiliar. For those with a deeper knowledge, the tour will put them in front of the professionals that can answer those questions that have been in the back of their mind. A common complaint is people want to see all the homes and it is frankly impossible to do, so plan ahead and like any good tourist be flexible and I promise it will be time well spent or your money back!


Update on the NW Green Home Tour 2014

Update on the NW Green Home Tour 2014

The NW Green Home Tour 2014 sign up deadline has passed. The good news for you as a tour attendee, is now you can choose between 35 Site Hosts for living spaces and 12 Sustainability Stops or retail spaces–who are notable for pushing forward the green conversation. Want to get a hint of what this is all about. Check our the brochure on line, or pick up the April issue of Seattle’s Natural Awakenings magazine at a coffee shop near you.

The guiding principle of the tour is education. Think you know all about green building? Not many people can really say that, in fact the more the know they realize actually they know less than they thought they did. Many of the participates of the NW Green Home Tour 2014 are torn between being a host on the tour or spending the day learning new principles and concepts from their peers.

Ultimately all of us who have been involved with the planning process, want to show everyone that “Green Homes” aren’t outside of the box. Indeed they are familiar, cost effective, neccessary, and above all smart. OK , granted sometimes they are forward thinking or “hip” while drawing upon sometimes new technogies and systems taken for granted or even developed by previous civilizations. Other times they are the most ordinary looking, and yet high performance home on the block.

As a renter, home owner, home builder, cook or gardener, there is something for everyone here. When looking at the NW Green Home Tour Guide be sure to note the icons, they give you a hint of the site’s most prominate features. Each one of these categories contains a myriad of other concepts. for more information keep check back at the tour web site for more details about the different sites.


Green Home Features
Map Key of site features for planning out your tour day route


As the Map Key states this tour is for all shades of green. Think you don’t care? How about savings on 1/2 of your utility bill. How do you get green? Learn the “Low Hanging Fruit” on some easy to acquire upgrades. Think you are already green enough? You might be able to learn how to bump it up a notch. If you are thinking of buying, remodeling or retrofitting a home this day is a must. So mark your calendar, Saturday April 26th as your tour day. Get the maps and descriptions, plan your route, wear slip on/off shoes, make your game plan in advance–there is way too much to see in one day. Then after the tour join us for our wrap party immediatly after. Just ask any greeter/volunteer of the day of the tour for the details.

NW Home Tour Committee Chair
For your Sustainable Real Estate needs from now into the future

Phinney Ridge Home Design and Remodel Fair

Phinney Ridge Home Design and Remodel Fair

Home Design and Remodel Fair
Stop by and say hi when you come to this great event on Sunday

Even if you don’t live on Phinney Ridge, this is a home show of a different color. Mainly of the green shade. Not all the exhibitors are green or sustainably minded, however a large portion is. You can meet all kinds of people involved in everything to do with homes. One of the most popular tables there is comprised of the very people who approve your building permits. That alone is worth the price of admission!

A couple must-sees are the NW EcoBuilding Guild Booth. They will be promoting the free NW Green Home Tour this April. Of course not to be missed is the friendly neighborhood Green Realtors with Cooper Jacobs Real Estate promoting “Green” in the “Red Room”. Stop by the booth and I will be providing useful information if you are in the market to purchase, build or remodel your home. This is one of my favorite events of the year, a home show in a relaxed informative setting, very different than the  typical corporate home show. Think home show on a human, Norman Rockwell scale!0rr

Green Building in Seattle

Green Building in Seattle

Are you new to Seattle? Are you thinking about relocating here? Are you considering a remodel or perhaps building a green home from the ground up? Below are some ideas on how to start your research. When investigating you will find each organization takes you somewhere on another tangent. With Seattle homes and commercial properties, there’s an integrated web of people and organizations, with each one supporting the others. People aren’t involved in this movement because some might consider it trendy. The people at the core of these organizations are in it for the long term and are deeply committed while constantly sharing and supporting each other to advance the knowledge and options for the greater community. We are convinced it is the wave of the future, and it’s here now, and getting easier to find every year.

So where to start? . . . . . Dip your toe in the water

  • The Green Pages

Pick up a copy. It’s a local publication highlighting people active in Green Building.    This year it’s published by Natural Awakenings Magazine and available throughout the Greater Seattle area.

The Seattle Waterfront
Green Homebuilding In Seattle

Then it’s time to strike out into the Green Building community.

  • Green Drinks

Start by attending a Green Drinks event. The Seattle Chapter is well established. The get-togethers are often held in local LEED rated buildings. The topics and locations vary every month and is a great way learn about general green building concepts. See if you can take a tour of the various host’s site. Many of the commercial concepts can be put into service in a residential application.  The quality of food and beverage and company of Green Drinkers is never to be under estimated.

The Eastside Green Drinks is starting up their own chapter. If you live closer to their location, stop by and give them some support.

  • Green Home Tour

This self guided tour will probably have more homes than you can possibly visit in a weekend.  You can meet the contractors and architects in the actual homes and see sustainable systems in place.  There are non-residential sites with additional classes and product displays where you can get more in depth information on particular concepts. Some of the education might even be a hands on experience. These often occur in the Spring, so keep and eye out for next tour, the date will probably be announced at the beginning of the year. The most common comment is people think they know what a green house looks like, and they learn what a huge variety there is. Be sure and wear slip-on shoes.

Seattle Green Home Tour
Earth Day 2012 Green Home Tour
  • Mother Earth News Fair

Held about an hours drive south of Seattle, any one of a certain age has certainly heard of this former “hippy” magazine now considered an “early adopter” in ways of living simply and off the grid. Much of the information has been tested for years, if not centuries. Combined with newer products and newer technology. Much of what they encourage is long forgotten common sense of our ancestors or new technology.

  • 10x10x10 Building Slam

An annual September event where 10 people talk for 10 minutes and present 10 slides about their green projects. Not alway on the subject of homes, but something to take away for everyone.  It can include innovations, lessons learned (often the hard way), and interesting anecdotes.


So you decided the water’s fine, you want to go in up to your waist. Still not fully committed but more than curious:

  • NW EcoBuilding Guild

This is the parent organization and participator of many of the local building events in the region. Membership is encouraged but not required. You can tour their website and just drop in on a monthly meeting that interests you. You will be asked to donate a modest amount at the door. There are many layers to this dedicated group

  • Master Builders Association Built Green Program

The local industry standard for green certifications of homes in the Built Green Program.  3 stars is self-certifying by the builders and remodelers, 4 and 5 star requires 3rd party sign offs, also known as 3rd Party certification. This is part of the Master Builder’s Association of King and Snohomish Counties.  Many people believe there is an advantage to 3rd Party certification when you go to resell your home.

  • NW Energy Star

Our NW certification is more stringent than the national program. Due to our higher code for energy savings than other parts of the country, this is a rating based solely on energy use.  It also requires a 3rd Party certification.

  • West Seattle Tool Library and PNA Well Home Program

These organizations have home and garden tools to use for a modest fee to homeowners. They offer a wide choice of how-to-classes.  Gardening, tilesetting, drywall repair and rain water cisterns, etc.  If you don’t know where to find something, they most likely will have the answer.  Go here for more information: Well Home Program, West Seattle Tool Library.

OK, now you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and are a little bit proud of your self. You realize you have the foresight to increase the resale value of your home in addition to living a more comfortable and healthier life while you are in your house. You are fully immersed in the concepts of why these buildings make sense. You want to know how far other people are pushing traditional boundaries.

  • Passivhaus Model

Originally during the 1970’s energy crisis this concept was starting to take off in the US . Interest was lost when heating prices came down.  In Europe in the meantime, the movement took off and was perfected in places like Germany and Switzerland where there were much higher demands than ours at the time.  This matrix is back in North America and is a very intricate and carefully planned system of modeling where the heating and cooling load cannot exceed the energy required to operate a blow dryer. Passive Houses are being built again to much higher standards. To be certified one must go through the institute.

Don't turn those Wheels
Don’t turn those wheels, unless they are going backwards
  • Net Zero Homes

There is one in Ballard  and some town homes in Issaquah that meet this challenge. These homes use the same amount of electricity, but often less than they generate in a year. Usually accomplished by the use of solar panels, they also incorporate passive concepts for movement of air, day lighting and heat sinks.

So that should be a decent start!

Of course there are several other programs when one digs deeper. Curious if there is one you think I should also include on the list?

If you would like to see any Green Homes on the Market in the Greater Seattle Area, I’m here to help. Building lots are hard to come by, especially in the city limits. Several contractors specialize in deconstructing a “tear down” and reuse or recycle what they can. If you choose to go the reconstruction route, your building permit can be fast tracked and you can save money on your carrying costs

New Favorite Website = Eat the

New Favorite Website= Eat the

This website just scrolled past on twitter. Curiosity got the best of me, and I clicked to link to the site.  It describes plants and animals. As a mostly pescatarian, I focused naturally on the plants and followed the links for those items.  A native foraging class taught by Native Americans a couple of years ago informed me that foraged greens both invasive and native are much higher in nutrition than most cultivated crops. Dandelions mentioned on this blog is an example of that. I have noticed first generation immigrants harvesting the huge leaves in the roadside drainage ditches on Mercer Island and wondered what they did with what most people here would call compost. My answer came several months later when I learned a form of Kim Chi is made from the sawtooth leaves.

Weeds you can eat
Dandelions are nutritious

This also mentions Japanese Knotweed. I know this is a very invasive plant in the Interbay neighbor of Magnolia. Come to find out it’s related to Rubarb and when you harvest the young shoots it’s similar to asparagus. Poor Fredrick Law Olmstead introduced it to the East Coast. His landscaped design firm is a darling in the profession also designed many of  the public parks in Seattle. Does the East side of Magnolia have him to blame as well for the huge stands of knotweed?

A couple of springs ago I met a young couple snipping the spring green shoots off of nettles in Discovery Park. Come to find out this plant when harvested young is very nutritious and is supposed to help with allergies in the early spring. It can be stir fried or made into an herbal tea.

What is great about this website is not only do they help you identify the invasive species, they give you the often interesting history of how they were introduced to the United States and and some truly great recipes for cooking them up for a tasty meal. It’s a broad spectrum of ideas and a clearing house for new ones.

Want to help the native natural environment save money and eat healthy? Take a peek at this website and see how you can help struggling native environments and eat healthy meals while saving money on groceries, if you are so inclined.

Seattle’s Annual Greenwood Garage Sale Day

Seattle’s Annual Greenwood Garage Sale Day

The PNA or the Phinney Neighborhood Association is holding it’s annual event again this coming Saturday. It’s a veritable mega-mall of kid gear, furniture, household items, recreational gear, gardening equipment, tools and things you may not even know what the heck they are. If you are the kind of person who enjoys the “hunt” this annual event might be right up your street. Many people pack comfy shoes, a hat and sunglasses, lots of one dollar bills and quarters and of course the garage sale map and descriptions. This year it’s on-line on a Google map and can be easily downloaded or stored on your smart-phone.

PNA_GarageSaleDay 72 dpi_2012_logo 3

The PNA, as usual, does a great job organizing this Seattle neighborhood event and it draws people from all parts. To learn about the type of shoppers one might experience click on this link. If you live in Greenwood, Phinney, or West Green Lake, you are bound to run into your neighbors. Especially in nice weather, this sale brings out all kinds of people walking with wagons and carts in tow. There are people driving in trucks and cars filled to the headliners with baskets, stools, plants and what-nots. People drive down the street with one arm out the window holding especially large items on the roofs of the slow moving vehicles. If it sounds a little chaotic. . . . . it is.

Especially nice weather brings out the crowds, and the forecast is great. Want some cheap entertainment? Want to promote the lemonade stands of the next generation of entrepreneurs? Want to furnish your new studio apartment? Want to meet the neighbors? It’s all here in the Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods this Saturday May 19th .

Reduce, REUSE, Recycle!


Kent Award Winning Home on the Seattle Green Home Tour

Kent Award Winning Home on the Seattle Green Home Tour


5 star built green
This Home is on the Seattle Green Home Tour

Do you have a preconception of Kent? I have to admit I did having spent some time there in the past. I love the city of Seattle and all it has to offer, it’s quiet sophistication, it’s culture and yes it’s beauty. I also happen to love getting away from the city to enjoy the great outdoors Washington State. All the water, the forests, the vistas and viewing the wildlife. Just like Ruth Anne on Northern Exposure, I go shooting quite often when I go out to the country, but it involves F-stops and lenses, and finding the elusive perfect lighting.

So I have to admit, when I heard a house was in Kent on the tour this year, I thought it was great, that green building concepts were spreading further out than just Bellevue into the suburbs of our metropolis. Then I opened the file with the pictures attached. All I can say now is WOWIE! (In my best Christopher Walken voice)

What a view inside or out
Award winning home
Awarding winning green home
Worth the drive from Seattle to see this home

Here is what Sockeye has to say about it:

Located in Kent, this custom home is so packed with ideas it has been named The Northwest Idea House of the Year. Come see for yourself the incredible design ideas, cutting edge systems, and Built Green features, making this a 5 star demonstration home and Click Here to View Case Study

Especially if you are in the south end of the Seattle grid I urge you to go see this home and be inspired by the creativity in solving the matrixs of what green can be to come up with such a lovely solution!

You can see the whole tour brochure at the NW Eco Building Guild’s website

West Seattle Home on April Green Home Tour

West Seattle Home on April Green Home Tour

Seattle area residents are lucky enough to have a Green Home Tour that is drawing interest other parts of  the country.  This years tour is appropriately on Earth Day weekend. A popular home is back this again this year so more people can be inspired by seeing how one growing family did so much for less money than you may think.

Does “green” mean:

Using fewer resources?

Re-purposing existing elements?

Saving energy and costs?

Improving indoor air quality?

Solar power?

Saving water?

Renewable materials?

Improved indoor air quality?

Increased comfort and simpler lifestyle?

Planning for the future?

In short, YES!!!

Here’s an opportunity to see why simple (and not so simple) things can make a difference, why it may not look like you think it might,  and why it’s worth it!


From the  website:



A [Little] Mighty House


3108 SW Webster StWest Seattle, WA 98126

Mighty House Construction

This West Seattle home provides a story of innovative use of materials, green and healthy finishes, energy conservation, integrated, expandable solar, and a multitude of solutions to accommodate the ebb and flow of a young and growing family.

Mighty House Front DoorThe mainstay of this project is conservation — conservation of costs and conservation of materials; all the meanwhile maintaining a high level of sustainable building measures and excellent indoor air quality.

The house is a 1980, rambler which when purchased in 2006 had clearly not had any finishes or renovations made to it since it’s completion in 1980. A remodeling plan was put into place to update the home’s aesthetics, remove low-quality and crummy fixtures, and to find better solutions for a growing family’s spatial needs.

As we mentioned, the big story in this home is conversation and simplicity. The projects feels tangible, something anyone can do to make big change to the use and/or aesthetics of their home… although truth be told, the work not only took fine craftsmanship, but a dedication to thoughtfulness and a lot of patience. The budget was a driving force to the schedule of projects and part of keeping to the budget often meant waiting for the ‘right’ salvaged or re-purposed materials to present themselves.Mighty House Office

The scope of the remodel to-date includes:

  • Maintaining existing footprint to maximize outdoor spaces
  • Salvaged or re-purposed materials in every room.
  • Low-impact flooring (including bamboo and remnant marmoleum) replaced vinyl and carpet.
  • Low-/No-VOC or reused paints throughout.
  • “Water-wise” fixtures.
  • “Energy-star” appliances.
  • Tool-shed entirely from salvaged materials.
  • Smart powerstrips throughout (as appropriate).
  • Radiant ceiling heat (office only)
  • Expandable solar installed (1-panel up, brackets ready for 3 more next spring, system ready for 23 more!)
  • Redesigned yard for fun, privacy, and low-water and low-maintenance with a few edibles thrown in for yum.
  • And more.

The kitchen itself is exemplary of all the attributes of the remodel:

  • Mighty House VanitySalvaged cabinets
  • Butcher block countertops re-oriented and re-worked into an island top
  • Paperstone countertops surround
  • Bamboo flooring
  • Salvaged garden window
  • Low-voltage pendant light
  • Dimmers on all switches
  • Low-VOC paints
  • Salvaged pantry shelf
  • Marmoleum backer for future wine rack
  • Energy Star and Water Wise appliances/fixtures
  • Smart cell phone charging station

Some of the other features of this sustainable home are in the choices made on a daily basis furnishing and living in the home. From homemade cleaning products to a “no-more new plastics” intention, every decision is made with indoor air quality, health, and sustainability forward.

A [Little] Mighty House

The kitchen is exemplary with salvaged, low toxic materials and energy-efficient appliances
A [Little] Mighty House

Low-impact flooring and re-purposed materials make this living area supremely sustainable

Stay tuned to learn more about a post-tour class about buying or greening an existing home April 28, 2012

Eco Building Guild Home Tour

Eco Building Guild Home Tour

Show Us Your ‘Green’!

Green Home Tour in Seattle
Coming this Earth Day 2012


Northwest EcoBuilding Guild – 2012 Green Home Tour – Call for Sites & Sponsors

This just in:
The 2012 Green Home Tour hosted by the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild (NWEBG) is underway. People want to ‘do the right thing’ when it comes to remodels, retrofits, and new construction but often times need to see “green” in action and how the benefits to people, planet, and profit unite in everyday practice. To that end, the inaugural 2011 Green Home Tour hosted 28 sites and over 1,250 visitors with great success! This year we’re planning to build off that success and make it bigger and better! There are 4 ways to participate:
  1. Showcase Your Project. (early bird deadline Jan 16, 2012)
  2. Showcase Your Services/Products through Sponsorship.
  3. Volunteer Your Heart Out.
  4. Attend and Tell Your Friends to Attend!
Two Tours – One Great Weekend! 2012 Green Home Tour is being hosted by the Seattle and the South Sound Chapter April 21 & 22, 2012. Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union has already stepped up as an event sponsor, and we’ve just gotten started!  The earlier you get involved, the greater benefit will be realized by everyone!! Website updates are underway, in the meantime contact Cate O’dahl, Event Lead (Seattle Chapter),
Last year there were sites all around the Seattle area. Several in North Seattle, some in West Seattle, and several on the Eastside including Bastyr University. If you want to see your neighborhood represented then have a green home in your area sign up for the tour.
If you participate in the tour or just want to enjoy the weekend learning about sustainable building mark your calendars now.
Hope to see you Earthday weekend 2012!

Great Opportunity to Safely Dispose of Old Paint

Great Opportunity to Safely Dispose of Old Paint

Update 11:00am Monday 10/17/2011

Reed painting had an overwhelming response and has informed me that they reached their capacity on Saturday. You still can contact them if you can put the recycled paint to a good use. They plan on having another drive in the future or to look up another location where you can safely dispose of your unwanted paint you can find your answers on line.


This Saturday Oct 15th is the first day Reed Painting will be taking latex paint from homeowners for recycling and reusing.  This local company is providing a valuable service as it allows us to recycle the paint that is in our basements, garages and sheds and know it to will be put to good use one again.

Word is out, get there early!

The organizers have asked me to pass on the following information:

“ Due to the overwhelming response so far it is estimated that the paint drive will not run the full week – people with donations are encouraged to come this Saturday. When we have reached capacity we will have to close the drive.”

“We do need to put the recycled paint to good use so we need people that are interested in taking some for community service projects or even individual projects. It will take some time to go through the paint but it will be available soon for use. We have donated to churches, schools, the Sheriff’s Dept for graffiti removal and artists for mural painting – to name a few.”

“ We are a painting company that specializes in residential interior and exterior painting, as well as cleaning services such as gutter cleaning, window washing, power washing and even holiday lighting.”

“Lastly, we are active in community service and strive to promote environmental conservation. We use NO and LOW VOC Paint and can use recycled paint at a customer’s request. The paint is high quality.”

The drop off site in located off Stone Way and Aurora roughly in the Wallingford and Fremont neighborhoods not too far from Green Lake.  What a great public service these independent contractor is offering. To learn more about them and this paint drive you can contact them here.