Washington’s foremost green builder and developer has completed Seattle’s first home that meets Emerald Star certification, a new standard that challenges LEED and Built Green.
Dwell Development uses a third-party green certification program, known as Built Green, to test the sustainability of its homes. Built Green uses a star-rating system from three to five stars, with five stars representing a net zero or net positive home that relies on efficient tech and sustainable design.
Dwell is the only builder in the city of Seattle that exclusively builds Built Green five-star homes, but it wants to inspire an industry change. It set out to build and design a home that could exceed five-star certification, meeting a new standard known as Emerald Star.
The homebuilder exceeds the existing five-star standard by ensuring these homes are net zero ready through the use of rooftop solar panels. Essentially, Dwell makes it easy for homebuyers to include rooftop solar as an add-on by designing and running electrical systems to the roof and other key areas. This would typically require extra work should the homebuyer want to add solar.
Preparing a home to be net zero is an easy way for more builders to market green, solar-ready homes without committing to a major solar standard.
“We looked at very innovative systems that went into the home, from a heating and cooling and energy-efficient standpoint,” says principle at Dwell Development, Anthony Maschmedt.
Finding Qualified Green Labor and Meeting Emerald Star Certification
According to Maschmedt, when Dwell first began to explore ways to improve the existing green standard, it was difficult to find contractors that knew how to build green.
Dwell has been working with Built Green and the Washington Homebuilders’ Association to find new contractors that are already familiar with green building or eager to learn. Builders in other markets could try a similar approach to find skilled, green-focused labor.
To meet the Emerald Star rating, this home was modeled after the Passive Haus standard. It relies on sealed ductwork, a constantly-running HRV, a graywater system and 8kW solar array.
Aside from the home’s sustainable design, Dwell also relies on a home automation platform to keep the energy efficient tech working efficiently and responsive to homeowner behavior.
This home uses the Kirio home automation platform to conserve energy and water, automate lights and react to homeowner behavior. One of the highlights of the system is the programmable smart water management system, which conserves 70 percent of the water that a traditional code-built home would consume.
The platform uses sensors to maximize performance throughout the entire home. Integrators can connect multiple devices that complement the home’s green design such as standalone IAQ monitors and dehumidification systems.
“We are looking at Kirio more for what it can do for our mechanical, heating, hot water and fresh air systems in our homes. When the homebuyers move in, due to the robustness of that platform, they can do anything,” says Maschmedt.
Dwell is considering making Kirio the standard in all future homes due to the platform’s ability to ensure that the house’s components are working as advertised to conserve energy.
Tour of Dwell’s Greenest Home
Dwell’s Emerald Star home was built to blend in with the neighborhood’s modern design, a move to help homebuyers understand that a green home can be as aesthetically pleasing as a traditionally built home.
“A lot of people, when they first walk by it, don’t know it’s the only Emerald Star home ever built, because we designed it architecturally to fit in with the neighborhood,” says Maschmedt.
The home’s modern appearance should demonstrate to other builders that you can build high-performing green homes without sacrificing the homes’ style of branding.