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High-performance Seattle homebuilder chooses to deconstruct

deconstruction Indian Wall

High-performance Seattle homebuilder chooses to deconstruct

Seattle home-builder Martha Rose, President of Martha Rose construction, when possible chooses to deconstruct and recycle existing structure on a building site as opposed to the standard demolishing and hauling away.

Rose has been building high-performance green homes in the Seattle market since the inception of the King and Snohomish County Built Green program over 10 years ago.  Recycling and using material with recycle content is a large part of green building.

Much of the dimensional lumber from the deconstruction of the side-by-side duplex that occupied the site since the early 1950 will be reused in framing the new high-performance City Cabin homes that will be constructed on the site.  Construction on the new City Cabin homes will begin in late May or early June 2014. For more information contact Adrian Willanger 206 909-7536/mailto:adrian@adrianwillanger.com

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Trendy energy saving device

Trendy energy saving device

The Nest Learning Thermostat has been around for several years, invented by ex-Apple designer Tony Fadell. While at Apple Fadell design the iPod and ran the iPod and iPad divisions while at the company.

So it’s not much of a surprise that a ground breaking home energy saving device like the “Nest” thermostat is being heralded as the iPod of thermostats.

Its round shape displays a red leaf when the heat is on and a blue leaf when the AC is on and a green leaf when you’re being energy efficient. Over a week’s period of adjusting your thermostat up or down the Nest learns your tendencies and uses this to help cut energy cost.

The nest has a built in WiFi connection that allows you to check your energy usage online and to control home temperatures when away. Priced at $249 it typically has a two year pay-back period of course this can fluctuate depending on fuel cost and ones heating and cooling behaviors.

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Columbia City: You might want to wait for one of these new homes

Columbia City: You might want to wait for one of these new homes

Coming in the Spring of 2012 is Martha Rose’s newest collection of high-performance homes City Cabins at Columbia Station.  These homes will be built to reach or surpass Building America’s goals for energy efficiency.

The goal of Building America is to demonstrate how cost-effective strategies can reduce home energy use by up to 50%, for both new and existing homes, in all climate regions by 2017. For a new home, energy savings are determined using the Building America House Simulation Protocols. For new construction, this represents a typical home built according to 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) with updated appliances, lighting, and miscellaneous electric loads.

Rose’s City Cabins are an “urban hybrid” designed and built to be ultra-efficient,  following a whole house as a system philosophy.  The benefits, other than the dollars saved on reduced energy cost, are often over looked because it’s extremely hard to quantify benefits like comfort, health and overall livability. These homes have been engineered, designed and built to optimize all of the individual components to enhance their counter parts. For example a tight building envelope reduces the amount of moisture and air flow coming into the living areas providing a healthier indoor living environment, reducing drafts, and also the amount of heating and cooling equipment needed to live comfortable.

Cost and livability

The real winners are the buyers who are looking for next-generation energy saving standards in a new home. These homes are constructed utilizing the latest construction technology, product innovations, designs, appliances and equipment and will be competitive with other priced homes in the area.

Features (all included not added as upgrades)

  • Heat-recovery-ventilator for improved indoor air quality, which can benefit occupant health
  • Higher comfort levels in all rooms throughout the home
  • Durable and moisture-resistant building designs and renovation
  • Custom Insulation, a blown-in blanket insulation (BIBS). This formaldehyde-free, spray-in fiberglass
  • Energy Star appliances
  •  Advance air sealing
  • Concrete floors
  • CFLs and LED Energy Start lighting
  • Infrared heating

For more information visit CityCabins.com or contact Adrian Willanger @ 206 909-7536.

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City Cabins Priority Green

City Cabins Priority Green

As part of the City of Seattle’s suite of permitting incentives, City Cabins at Columbia Station will be using Seattle’s Priority Green residential permitting process.  The Priority Green expedited process shortens review times for single family, multi-family and commercial projects that meet typical green standards.

Builder Martha Rose, President of Martha Rose Construction, plans on breaking ground for their high-performance City Cabins in mid-September. Rose mentions “that she is spoiled using this process.” All plans are submitted through an e-file submission, no paper, allowing for faster intake appointments, routing and issuance.

The e-file format allows for multiple reviews to look at the plans simultaneously instead of each reviewer waiting for the last reviewer to finish and handoff to the next in line. Kudos to the City of Seattle for building in some lean principles into the plan review process allowing up to a 4 week faster construction start for single family houses.

Priority Green Fundamentals

DPD’s Priority Green incentives set high but achievable thresholds for energy efficiency, water conservation and waste reduction.

For more information regarding City Cabins at Columbia Station please visit CityCabins.com or contact Adrian Willanger @ 206909-7536.

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Successful micro neighborhoods help revitalize green building in Seattle

Queen City Eco-Village

Queen City Eco-Village Seattle, Wa.

Pocket neighborhoods offer a unique alternative to the traditional subdivision, typically these small micro-neighborhoods are built on a large infill lot or a lot that has a structure that is beyond its useful life and needs to be torn down.

Martha Rose, president of Martha Rose Construction, has completed two micro-neighborhoods over the last several years just north of the Seattle city limits in the City of Shoreline. Rose purchased two parcels of land approximately ¾ acres each, both of the parcels had old farmhouse on them that were originally built in the early 1900s.


Pocket neighborhoods offer a unique alternative to the traditional subdivision, typically these small micro-neighborhoods are built on a large infill lot or a lot that has a structure that is beyond its useful life and needs to be torn down.

The micro-neighborhoods, Queen City Eco-Village and Fish Singer Place, were both build as low-impact developments. Special attention was given to help control stormwater runoff.  Installing pervious pavement, rain catchments systems and green roofs at Fish Singer Place were used to help control the stormwater and keep it on site.

All the homes were built and designed using Rose’s signature whole house as a system approach.  Both of the micro-neighborhoods featured high-performance homes built beyond today’s building codes, built to be extremely energy-efficient, durable and healthy.

The 8 homes at Queen City Eco-Village and Fish Singer Place all received certifications from Energy Star, Building America, and the highest certification level from the Built Green program of King and Snohomish County. Both projects were awarded Built Green’s Small Community of the Year awards.

The success 0f these micro-neighborhoods has sparked a new wave of home builders in the Seattle market place that are looking for a way to differentiate their product mix by building high-performance homes.  These homes are built beyond code and will be certificated and verified by an independent third party, tested and document that  the home’s performance meets or exceeds the program’s certification requirements in energy & water efficiency , material use, indoor air quality, and recycling & waste.

Rose will be starting 4 new homes in late June for an early 2013 release, follow the  link to view other high-performance homes that are currently for sale in the Greater Seattle area.

Related posts:

  1. My top 3 green home picks in and around Seattle (16.9)
  2. Green Building: Sustainable Benefits (16.2)
  3. Green Jobs on Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill (15)
  4. Seattle Green builder laces up the boots and straps on the hardhat (14.5)
  5. City Cabins on Queen Anne to Host Summer Green Building Classes (14.4)

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Has residential solar power moved beyond the enthusiast?

Has residential solar energy crossed the chasm into an “early adopters” marketplace?   Or is solar equipment only popular with solar equipment enthusiast?  There’s strong evidence that supports the benefits of solar power, but has adding solar equipment to your residence gained enough popularity to get over the financial outlays of adding a system to your house? Will increased market penetration of solar equipment or rising energy cost make residential solar-systems more feasible?

It could be argued that spending the same money on residential energy efficiencies will give you a better ROI on your investment like adding more insulation, higher quality windows and door, more efficient heating/ cooling equipment, and Energy Star appliances.

This is a tough question to answer; perhaps the answers are in what are your current costs of energy? What kinds of incentives and credits are available for energy efficient upgrades in your state?

Where I live, Washington State, one could make a good argument that solar power makes sense, particularly with the incentives available if you purchase solar equipment that is made within Washington State higher incentives are available.

What Incentives Are in Place for Solar Energy Systems?

Homeowner’s can take advantage of a variety of federal, state, and local incentives to help make solar more affordable. Here is a breakdown of the most current federal and state incentives

Federal – Applicable to Solar Electric (PV) and Solar Hot Water (SHW) Systems:

Homeowner’s will receive a Residential Income Tax Credit of 30% of the total installed system cost. This incentive is available until 2016 and can be “carried over” each year until it is completely used up, or until 2016, whichever comes first.

Washington State – Applicable to Solar Electric (PV) Systems Only:

There is no sales tax on any of the equipment or labor associated with solar electric systems

In addition to offsetting CO2 emissions from traditional power and lowering your utility bills, Washington State will pay you $0.15 for every kWh that your system produces. Additionally, if you are using Silicon Energy (Washington-made) solar panels, the production incentive jumps to $0.36/kWh. Throw in an OutBack (made in Washington) inverter and the incentive maxes out at $0.54/kWh!

You can also sell Renewable Energy Certificate (RECs) during the lifetime of your system.

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Seattle green builder takes lighting to task

The benefits of natural daylighting in a home or office can’t be over expressed.  Aside from the obvious energy-savings daylighting can offer a bit of drama, energy and add to ones cheerful disposition. The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has documented increased worker productivity and a reduction in employee absenteeism in it’s LEED Certified buildings that has enhanced daylighting features.


Seattle home builder Martha Rose takes daylighting and interior lighting to a whole new level in her latest new homes in Seattle, City Cabins.  Maximizing daylighting with strategic placement of windows to allow the natural light to filter into the living spaces, one of the key elements are the 9’ tall ceilings which allow the windows to be placed six inches higher allowing greater depth of natural light into the living areas.


When the sun goes down the homes come alive with well thought-out ambient, task, way-finding and accent lighting.  The open stairways are well lite, using George Kovas’ wall sconces that direct light upward illuminating the tall ceilings as well as casting a soft light downward defining the wood slab steps.  The kitchen features 3 Hudson Bay pendant lights that offer the rare trifecta of lighting ambient, task and accent lighting perfect for a kitchen that looks more like a living area than a food prep area.


The advance lighting package allows the homeowners to easily transition from dinner to after dinner by way of ambient style lighting with undercounter LED lighting and a custom designed dining room fixture that is also a great transitional piece.  The custom fixture is made from a 4’ piece of apple wood (same as the kitchen cabinets) shaped into an artist palette.  Suspended from the ceiling wrapped in stainless steel, the palette shaped fixture takes on a bit of a commercial look while helping to define the dining space from the living room and kitchen areas.  The fixture has a solar tube coming through it surrounded by 7 LED micro-spot lights which can be directed to showcase or to accent.


All of the lighting is eco-friendly energy saving CFL and LED bulbs which use less electricity, last longer than regular light bulbs and put out minimal heat.


The two homes are currently listed for sale, for more information contact Adrian Willanger, 206 909-7536


Related posts:


  1. People-centric Homes in Seattle near completion (9.8)
  2. Invest In Seattle Green Real Estate and Reduce Your Electricity Bills (9.4)
  3. Tips To Help You Find Hi-Performance Houses In Seattle (8.9)
  4. Get your kitchen ready to help sell your Seattle home (8.3)
  5. Stainless in Seattle (7.9)










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Where are the green home buyers?

Over the last several weeks I’ve met with several developers regarding the lack of sales with their new green homes.  Common comments keep coming up, how do we get buyers to pay for the additional cost to build a hi-performance green home compared to a traditional built home and where are the pool of buyers who want these features?

The costs to build a green home can add a 3-10% premium on to building costs; the more experienced builders can keep these costs at the lower end with experienced subs familiar with green construction techniques, improved building efficiencies and knowing what the hot buttons are for buyers.

The other part is how to reach your target market of buyers and engage local real estate agents? Green homes are a bit different; most of the value is behind the walls, improvements and high efficient equipment.  Perhaps the key element is creating value by showcasing the individual components and having a long list of benefits for each part.

Here are four steps that every green home marketing plan should include:

  • Dedicated blog site, this is where you engage buyers with informative content explaining the upgrades, benefits and it also creates more transparency and trust (one tip start early and include lots of photos).
  • Agent engagement, it starts with educating the agent about the product, they can’t sell what they don’t understand, and an ongoing well designed e-mail campaign works very well.
  • A knowledgeable staff that understands and can articulate the product and turn the features into benefits for the buyers.
  • Green home buyers like to be involved, interior displays showing how, what and why these homes are built for the next-generation of buyers. This is a great buyer engagement piece.


Adrian Willanger has an MBA in Sustainability, LEED AP, Real Estate Broker, and is a certified Earth Advantage Broker, EcoBroker, Built Green Agent and is founder of Eco-Redux Media.

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Game Changing Lighting at Seattle’s City Cabins

Builder Martha Rose, president of Martha Rose Construction in Seattle Washington, is electing to upgrade traditional builder grade incandescent lighting in her new homes, City Cabins in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, with ultra-compact and extremely efficient Juno Mini LED Downlights and Gimbals.

The living rooms of City Cabins will be displaying the much sought –after “quiet-ceiling” architectural designed fixtures featuring Mini LED Downlights and the Gimbals that feature a 30 degree aiming and 360 degree rotation, perfect for adding a bit of drama to your favorite work of art!

The beauty of this type of task lighting is that it produces virtually no heat while enhancing visual comfort while using 1/10 the energy of traditional lighting. The lights are expected to last 50,000 hours which equals about 5 years if you left them on 24/7.

Rose mentions “sustainable building is all about doing more using less.” This type of think has influential in their selection of light bulbs for the “Cabins.” It just makes sense to use more efficient bulbs that use less wattage even though the cost is greater but once you look at the whole profile or payback for a LED bulb compared to a standard incandescent bulb it makes more financial sense.

A typical incandescent bulb would take 60 watts to produce 800 lumens where a CFL bulb would take up to 15 watts and a LED would take up to 12 watts to produce 800 lumens. The initial cost of an incandescent bulb is small compared to the cost of the energy it uses over its lifetime.

City Cabins are due to be competed in December of 2011, for more information visit CityCabins.com or contact Adrian Willanger 206 909-7536.

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New Homes on Queen Anne Hill approaching net-zero

New Homes on Queen Anne Hill approaching net-zero

City Cabins builder Martha Rose’s passion for sustainable building can be traced back to the energy crisis of the 1970s. “The Carter administration started giving grants to people with innovative about how to use less energy,” mentions Rose.

When Rose learned about the Built Green program in Seattle in 2003 she thought this would be natural transition for her company to become “certified green home builder.” Her company was already following much of the guidelines on the Built Green checklist.

Since 2003 many of Rose’s project have become more energy efficient than the previous projects. Rose continues to push the energy saving envelope utilizing new techniques in building science and material innovations to get closer to the goal of building a net-zero home.City Cabins in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood are getting very close, the two high-performance come with many built in features that most builders charge extra for such as increased insulation, quadruple glazed windows, heat-recovery-ventilator, and extremely high-end Energy Star appliances.

The homes are at finishing stage and are scheduled to be completed in December 2011. For more information visit CityCabins.com or alternatively contact Adrian Willanger 206 909-7536.

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