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Issaquah zHome development shows 'uber green' a real option

A project in the city of Issaquah is hoping to "change what it means to be a home."

Using a series of what Brad Liljequist, the Sustainable building coordinator at the City of Issaquah, calls "hard-core environmental benchmarks," the city has built a 10-unit townhome development which they say proves it's possible to produce a zero net energy home for mainstream production.

"A group of us came together and we said, 'OK we want to build a home that's not just a little bit green, but just way uber green,'" says Liljequist.

Homes in the zHome's development boast zero net energy use, zero carbon emissions, 70 percent reduced water use, and use low-toxicity building materials for clean, healthy indoor air.

"It's pretty amazing what we're doing," says Liljequist.

He says there hasn't been strong record for innovation in home building. "We're building homes like Model-T's still."

He says his team is "pushing the envelope in every single way." Their considerable energy savings were made mostly by rethinking the heating system.

"In the Northwest, the leading thing that uses energy in homes is the heating system. That's about 60 to 65 percent of all the energy used in the home. So that's really where you want to focus."

They used double insulation, double paned windows, sealed up the exterior, and used a water heating system which is more efficient than air.

Other energy savings were made by using high efficiency lighting and appliances. All energy used in the homes is offset with solar panels on the roof.

There are still four uber green homes available in the Issaquah zHome community, and Liljequist says their builder, Ichijo USA, who has built over 100,000 homes in Japan, is now offering custom homes for the Puget Sound area.

This week's Home Improvement is sponsored by Zero Footprint Homes.

Jamie Skorheim, MyNorthwest.com Editor
Whether it's floating on Green Lake, eating shrimp tacos at Agua Verde, or taking weekend drives out to the Cascades, she loves to enjoy the Pacific Northwest lifestyle as much as humanly possible.
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