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!


NW Green Home Tour 2014

NW Green Home Tour 2014

The date is set –April 26th and the committee is off and running. Site hosts are signing up sooner than ever. No doubt based on the success of the previous three years, the NW Green Home Tour promises to be the biggest and best ever. Builders are building again, buyers are in the market and the general public is more aware of how diverse green building really is

The tour is a go! Currently there is still room for sitehosts, sponsors, sustainability stops and volunteers.
The tour is a go! Currently there is still room for sitehosts, sponsors, sustainability stops and volunteers.

Think you know what a “Green” home looks like? Many people attend this free to the public tour and learn the ordinary looking house on their street might actually be quite extra-ordinary. Tour goers can expect to see single family homes, town homes, DADUs, and this year apartments. Innovative outdoors spaces, rain gardens, urban agriculture, and maybe some livestock are all possibilities. Sustainability stops and retail outlets that tie into the tour, such as Green Home Solutions, are all part of the tour.

This self guided tour is from 11-5 on a Sunday. Preview and plan an individualized route by visiting the official website, or pick up the yet to be published free April issue of Seattle’s Natural Awakening Magazine.  Keep an eye out for publication the beginning of April.

The tour is a joint partnership of the NW Eco Building Guild and Built Green. We welcome inquiries regarding site hosts, sustainability stops, sponsorships and volunteer opportunities.

For your Sustainable Real Estate needs from now into the future
For your Sustainable Real Estate needs from now into the future

Green Building Slam

Green Building Slam

The NW EcoBuilding Guild’s anual green building slam is this Saturday night. It also happens to the the 10th year it’s been presented.

From the EcoGuild’s email blast:


10th Annual 10x10x10 Green Building Slam

10 projects.  10 slides.  10 minutes.

Saturday, September 15, 2012    5:00 – 10:00 PM

Kane Hall, Walker Ames Room, University of WashingtonTickets are available from BROWN PAPER TICKETS!
Were Ready!!
The venue is outstanding, the appetizers will be scrumptious beyond belief, jury decisions are made – winners are notified, adventure get-a-ways ready for auction and raffle. The latest in green innovations within the Puget Sound area will be presented making this 10th year a wowser for all to enjoy.
Registration / Blueacre / Networking          5:00pm – 7:00pm
Slam Presentations start promptly at         7:00pm – 9:00pm
Dessert, coffee ‘n tea / Adventures             9:00pm – 10:00pm
Adventure get-a-ways are up for auction and raffle:
Way out west into the Pacific is the Waldorf Astoria, Maui providing the ultimate  luxury in paradise…….
Going South of the boarder – Puerta Vallerta, Mexico offers a five star condo  that is outstanding, with views to take your breath away, luxury at its best…..
Our own back yard is the Ultimate Seattle – see our town like a tourist, from staying in the Olive 8 to seeing Seattle from the air with Kenmore and Ride the Duck……..
Woodinville, Seattle Country has us staying at Willows Lodge & Spa, enjoying dinner at Barking Frog., and just for the sheer adventure, an exclusive private reserve wine and cheese pairing for ten of your closest family and friends at The Woodhouse Wine Estates……
Kitsap Adventure stay at the incredible Cedar Cove Inn BnB, where you will be welcomed like family in this truly one of a kind Kitsap Inn.   Complimented with dinner at Amy’s on the Bay…….
Finally to the North we have Tree Frog Inn & Spa offering a perfect Northwest in the woods experience, sustainable and rustic, …
Bring your family, friends, associates, coupled with the spirit of adventure for great fun, networking, good eats and libations. Take one (or two) of these adventures home with cash, check or credit card.  Must be present to win.
Tickets are now available from BROWN PAPER TICKETS! Secure them early for the best discount.

This is a most enjoyable event. It has something for everybody and this year it even has food and drink.  Support the Guild and learn something in the meantime!

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

It’s Time To Kick That John To The Curb

It’s Time To Kick That John To The Curb

Have an Old John spending too much time in your bathroom? Toss out that expensive no-good lout and find a more charming, less demanding and one that’s better with budgeting!

Dual Flush for even more efficiency

Most people don’t put much thought into the porcelain bowl in the bathroom, but something we take for granted can take up a large portion of our utility bills. The Saving Water Partnership is offering homeowners in a certain income bracket rebates to throw out the outdated 5 gallon guzzler for a more efficient one. In the City of Seattle we know that our home Combined Utilities bills keep going up, and they aren’t stopping anytime soon. For every dollar we spend on water, we will spend about two dollars more for the sewer charges. It’s as if we use one gallon of water and pay for three. This is a great opportunity to make the switch and perhaps even upgrade to a nicer toilet. Many functional commodes are well under $80.00, and of course there are plenty well beyond the price range that will add beauty to any bathroom.

Are you resistant change because of an experience with a so-called low-flow toilet a decade or two ago? Well, they have figured out the physics since then, and quite often one might find the new toilets work much better than the old ones. They operate just fine with gravity now and don’t need to sound like a Lear Jet fly-by.

While you are at it, you might want to consider replacing your showerhead at the same time for a real improvement with your utility bill. Once again, the showerheads work very well.  Some even have a valve so you can shut off the water and not have to readjust the temperature if you are into the “Navy” style of showering.  As an added bonus, some heads have a feature that allow you to easily clean out the accumulated scale to make sure every shower has the perfect pressure and water flow.

Typically most homeowners can replace the showerhead or add an aerator. The weekend warrior can usually handle the toilet replacement (even if it takes 2 trips to the hardware store). If you think you would need a professional plumber, why not get the neighbors involved? Most toilet replacements take more time for the plumbers travel time then for the actual job of replacement. So why not line up several neighbors on the block for the same time on the same day and make it worth everyone’s while? Remember to keep checking the City of Seattle website and your utility bills for recycling of the old toilets.

Old John doesn’t have to be completely out of your life. You might see him recycled into the next roadway or highway project.


Seattle Green Festival 2011

Seattle Green Festival 2011

May 21st & 22nd  is the weekend of Seattle’s Green Festival. If you are wondering why you should attend the 2011 Green Festival, this link will give you a few reasons.  Formerly held in the convention center, this year it will be filling the Qwest Event Center. Put together by Green America and Global Exchange,  it offers something for everyone.  There are vendors with products and services, food, music and some great speakers.

This is the first year for the Sierra Club Green Cinema. Four films will be screened with discussions and Q & A sessions as well.  The speaker line up includes Dennis Kucinich and happily many of our local and innovative leaders on the cutting edge of sustainability.

Seattle's Green Festival May 21-22nd,2011

There is a small entry fee and discounts can be found on the website.  Between the exhibitors and the myriad of speakers, not to mention all the free samples, it really will be a full day of fun, education and swag. The 2010 festival diverted 88% of it’s waste from landfills and each year the organizers strive to divert more.

Avoid the construction in the area and in the spirit of the festival take public transportation, or carpool to Qwest field.


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.