An environmental ethic elegantly executed

Thursday 26 Jan 2012

A new home in Washington State becomes the first LEED Platinum residence

The Ellis Residence is an example of modern residential design incorporating local environmental concerns, state-of-the art energy efficiency and visionary educational opportunities for the public. The project embodies the client’s vision of home that raises the bar for energy producing housing while maintaining aesthetics and livability. This LEED Platinum certified home is a milestone in the efforts to create truly sustainable designs.

Perched high upon Yeomalt Bluff in Washington State, this home enjoys a commanding 180 degree view of the Puget Sound and City of Seattle. It features a 70% energy use reduction compared to an average North American home through the use of geothermal heat, photovoltaic energy collection, solar hot water, thermal massing, and heat-recovery technologies. Additional key features include: rain water collection cisterns, radiant floor heating, site-milled wood trim, triple-glazed windows and a vegetated roof.

A key goal of the project was community outreach and education. Owners Ed and Joanne Ellis wanted to prove that sustainability can be achieved without compromising a modern aesthetic design and they wanted to motivate others to follow suit. The Ellis’ are proud that their home is the first LEED Platinum residence outside the City of Seattle. The single family residence houses two bedrooms and many flexible living spaces combining many functions such as living, dining, office, and media spaces. The design limits its impact on the environment with a multitude of sustainable practices.

The use of local materials, native vegetative roof systems, rain water gardens and permeable paving the building works in synergy with the landscapes natural systems. An innovative hybrid insulation system of closed-cell spray foam and batt insulation was used to provide maximum insulation performance and air-tight construction at an affordable cost. In addition, triple-glazed wood windows were installed throughout the project. Untreated FSC certified hardwood ‘rain screen’ siding assembly provides a low maintenance, moisture resistant cladding system. In addition to the hardwood siding, recyclable metal panels and CMU block comprise the remainder of the durable exterior envelope.

The project’s ecologically small footprint was not just constrained to the construction of the new house. The site had an existing structure on it that the team deconstructed, effectively diverting 98% of its material from the landfill. Before construction began, subcontractors created detailed lists of FSC certified framing and sheathing to more accurately place their lumber orders to reduce waste. Additionally, the contractor tracked all waste and recyclable material on the site to provide a 75% landfill diversion rate. Interior trim and stair material originated from site-milled fir trees that were fallen from a neighbour’s property.

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United States

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