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!


Value it Green Home Tour In Portland OR

Value it Green Home Tour In Portland OR

Portland, our like-minded city to the south will be having their Green Home Tour on September 9, 2014. Put on by Earth Advantage it offers continuing education and clock hours for Real Estate Professionals. One can take the tour, and for an increased price attend the mixer after.

Green Home Tour Draws Chinooks
A father and son Design/Build came all the way from British Columbia just to see the tour

Unlike Seattle’s own NW Green Home Tour which is self guided and free to the public, the commonality at the heart of each tour is education and “normalizing” green building. There has been so much “greenwashing” the greater public and real estate professionals may have a distorted sense of what green building truly is, not to mention the benefits to residents and owners.

If you like comfort, low maintenance demands, low utility bills, more free time, economy of scale, universal and smart design, healthy indoor air quality, and sometimes just really beautiful finishes, you might be a candidate to be the owner of a green home.


NW Green Home Tour

These NWGHT 2014 attendees came in style. On their bikes complete with a growler cage on board.

One of the best ways to learn about green homes and green living is to attend a local green home tour.  You can stand inside of the homes, talk with the homeowners and contractors, see, touch, smell, and imagine what it would be like to live in a more efficient home

NW Green Home Tour

NW Green Home Tour

It’s getting toward the end of April, for many that means taxes are done, but for the NW Green Home Tour committee that means we are busier than ever. We have been working hard since November scoping out the local neighborhoods for interesting sites for our third annual NW Green Home Tour.


North Seattle Green Homes
Some committee members of the Green Home Tour who have been putting this together since last October

If you have been on the tour in one of the previous years, then you know what a fantastic opportunity this FREE tour is to garner information and see what real life solutions look like.  Generous homeowners open their doors and allow the public to see what kind of improvement they have made to their homes.  This not only usually benefits their utility bills, but also quite often their indoor comfort and indoor air quality. There is something for everybody here. This year will also feature the rain gardens in Ballard, the subject of some controversy lately.  There are experts at each site there to answer whatever questions you may have about what makes these homes and sites so special.

There will also be several Sustainability Stops this year. Some will be offering drinks and snacks. Others will be offering product information and other services.

So mark April 27th on your calendar and reserve the whole day. Sometimes you get more than you paid for!

Go Green & Go Home!


Backyard Cottages in Seattle

Backyard Cottages in Seattle

Part 1

Welcome to the beginning of a series. The plan is to follow this Backyard Cottage from this point (City of Seattle Planning Department permits in hand) to completion and being featured on the NW Green Home Tour. Detached Accessory Dwelling Units are also known as an DADUs in the City of Seattle. One can go to the DPD’s website and find the CAM 116B or “Client Assistant Memo” regarding the separate living structures Seattle homeowners may build on their single family property.  Much depends on the the size of the lot as well as available setbacks etc., but this is a great solution for increasing density without disturbing the feel and the lines of the neighborhood.

Seattle DADU
The beginning stage, nothing to write home about . . . . yet!


If there is room on your lot this might be a great option to investigate, perhaps above an existing garage or the space at the back of the lot by the alley. Many Seattle neighborhoods are no longer car dependent and have readily available public transportation and such is the case of the build we will be following. The owner of this build could easily rent it out to a young professional who buses or bikes to South Lake Union or a student who attends the University of Washington. These projects can easily be built without having much long term impact on the neighbors or affect on-street parking.

An underused part of pricey Seattle Real Estate
An underused portion of pricey Seattle Real Estate


Seattle DADUs can be a great option as extra guest space, as an income producing unit or as a home office or studio. Quite often these are designed as an “aging in place” solution using universal design techniques. The old wonderful homes we have here quite often have the kitchen and bedrooms on different levels. Accessory Dwelling Units can be a great solution for downsizing when the time comes to transition into an ADA compliant structure right in ones own back yard. The main house can become the younger generation’s family home or as a rental when social security may not be enough to cover the bills.

I will be following this project through completion  with thanks to the generosity of the General Contractor Wayne Apostolik, and the patient homeowner.

Stay tuned as this project progresses over the next 3 months.

Shoreline Home Featured on Green Home Tour

Shoreline Home Featured on Green Home Tour

New fireplace
Family Room Focal Point

It’s just around the bend and we just received some pictures from one of the homes on the north end of the Seattle Green Home Tour this coming weekend. This home has a view and is featured as N10 on your map and Natural Awakenings brochure.

Here is how the designer described her project:

Jolly Green Giant Home on Seattle Green Home Tour

by Interior Designer Wendy Albee, Albee Interior Design

This is the story of the Ekrem family who built their dream home on a small parcel of land taking advantage of the beautiful views of Puget Sound. Though they did not specifically set out to make a green home, they wanted to incorporate some green and sustainable features that made sense, making their home a little more earth-friendly and energy efficient than most. And we incorporated universal design features to ensure the family can live in their dream home for a very long time.

Because the concept of ‘green’ building or remodeling can be daunting to the average person, we decided to be part of the tour to demonstrate simple, practical steps that the this home incorporated to save money on energy costs and to improve air quality. We also used recycled materials where it made sense esthetically rather than setting out purposefully to use these materials.

Bathroom with water wise toilet
Green can be beautiful

(From an interior design perspective, if a client is not that interested in being ‘green’, I do make a point of showing my clients products and materials that are recycled or upcycled that fit in our design style and color palette(s). The dual-flush toilets are an easy sell as they look great and function so well and when I tell them 1/3 of their water usage is from the toilet, they don’t hesitate. Low voltage lighting is getting less expensive so that is also easy for clients to see the benefit).

The first thing you’ll notice walking into the home is the enormous amount of natural light. The windows are all high-performance, triple pane glass.

The main floor includes one bathroom with earth-friendly Marmoleum flooring and recycled glass tiles in the shower and vanity backsplash. A second bathroom has a solid surface countertop that is made from86% recycled materials including corn, ceramics, mirrors and glass (Eco from Consentino). The laundry room also has Marmoleum flooring and Energy Star appliances. All cabinetry is made locally in Monroe.

The great room is located on the 2nd floor where the extended family gets together every Sunday. The kitchen appliances are Energy Star rated and much of the lighting is LED. The family side of the great room has an energy efficient gas fireplace.

The master suite, also on this floor, hosts a dual-flush toilet, radiant heated floors with programmable thermostat, engineered quartz countertop, locally-produced finishes, and Water Sense fixtures. Ambience is created with the LED soffit lighting.

2012 Green Home Tour
Newly remodeled bathroom

The lower floor has hydronic radiant heat with Marmoleum flooring. It contains a small bathroom, mud room and ‘man work cave’.

This home goes to show how so called “green professionals” can make small changes in the perceptions of our clients. A lower flow toilet is a painless step to take towards saving resources and reduction of infrastructure. Insulation not only saves money on energy costs in the long run, but increases the comfort of a home. . . . and it all adds up!

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!

Seattle Empty Bowls Event Venue Changed

Seattle Empty Bowls Event Venue Changed

June 16, 2011 Last year’s Empty Bowls event held at the Ballard Community Center was a huge success. This year it has been changed to the Nordic Heritage Museum.  Just like last year, this year’s event will have lots of live music, yummy soup provided by Ballard Market and fresh baked bread. The best part of the event is the ability to peruse a large number of handmade bowls (some don’t even work well with soup!) and go home with the vessel of your choice. They also have ceramics  meant for Fluffy, Fifi or Bruiser!

The suggested $15 donation goes to the Ballard Food Bank —  in need of help more than ever this year. The event runs from 4-7 PM Saturday night. This is a great way to top off the day after touring the Northwest Eco Building Guild’s Green Home Tour. You can visit several of the many stops on the tour, work up your appetite and carpool to Empty Bowls at the end of a satisfying day learning about the latest in sustainable building in Seattle.

Seattle Green Home Tour

Seattle’s 2011 Green Home Tour

Green Home Tour Seattle
What does "Green" mean to you?

Seattle is anticipating it’s first annual Northwest Eco Building Guild Green Home Tour. See the latest in sustainable housing, techniques, ideas and inspirations.  The South Sound chapter had great success with their tour last year, and the Seattle chapter is expected to exceed their success the first time out of the gate.


There will be three clustered areas. The first in North Seattle, second on the Eastside of Lake Washington, and the third in South Seattle. The featured properties will all be different, and incorporate different aesthetics and different techniques for achieving a “Green” status.

It’s a great way to see what all this fuss is about if you are just curious; if you are in the market to purchase. Or if you are seriously looking for tangible ideas on how to build your own Eco Friendly house. You are bound to meet some of the local leaders in the industry, many of which are members of the Guild.

The tour will be on April 16th and 17th, you may want to attend both days if you want to see all the houses on the tour!

Stay tuned for more information.