For blackberry lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and baseball fans, summer is a cherished time in the Pacific Northwest. It is also a time cherished by Green Canopy Net Zero Energy homeowners whose solar panels are performing at their highest potential. As the sunnier months are rolling through, some exciting trends are emerging regarding the energy that our homes consume and produce.
Contributed by Alexa Ashley
Green Canopy's first net-zero energy home is now available on the market. This home is the first of it's kind in Magnolia with only a handful being listed on the NWMLS in the last 20 years. Green Canopy's Accounting Manager, Jen Trujillo remarks, "I didn't realize how few houses like this there are." The Company has been building a diverse range of homes (including single-family, townhomes, rowhouses, net-zero ready houses) in Seattle since 2009 and this project is their first net-zero energy home, which includes solar panels.
Green Canopy believes that net-zero energy homes are the future and will become the standard for new construction since they are more sustainable, comfortable and resilient. Project Manager, Wilson Deaton explains, "It's exciting because net-zero is really the pinnacle of green building... you can build as green as you want but until you get to a place where you're not using any energy in a house, then you haven't quite gotten there. If you can build a house that uses no energy, then you've completely switched the math when it comes to how much pollution you put out and how much carbon goes into the atmosphere– and that's the goal."
In the past, net-zero energy homes have been more expensive than similar homes, but Green Canopy has been able to offer this home within the normal market range by staying on budget (1.8% budget deviation compared to the industry standard of 13%) and implementing strict quality control checklists. The project manager, Valeriy Korol, who carried this project to completion says, "I think as a company we have a pretty good strategy (as to) why we're building the house. It's not about money, we're Green Canopy. We're trying to improve the world. We're changing the world. So... it's a small step overall, but it's a step to save energy, to think about the future of your kids and the future of the world."
The high-performing ventilation systems in these homes also provide a more healthy indoor environment as Deaton explains, "you have ERVs (energy recovery ventilators) and HRVs (heat recovery ventilators) so you can change the air and make sure you get enough fresh air... not to mention when you build Built Green 4 star or 5 star you're always using building materials that have less chemicals in them. Less harmful chemicals."
The project was recently listed, with it's first public open house and class to help brokers and buyers understand the benefits of net-zero and solar power. When asked why this project is exciting, Chief Financial Officer, Andy Wolverton, responds, "It feels like the next step. In the last few years... our quality has improved, our process has improved but what we're building hasn't changed all that much as it relates to our mission and this is evidence of that. Going another leap forward."
Thank you to all of of the Green Canopy partners who have helped make this leap possible including but not limited to: Northwest Electric & Solar, Van Wyck & Porter, Evergreen Certified, Performance Insulation, Built Green, and Tesla.
f you have questions about this property, would like to schedule a showing, or be informed of upcoming Green Canopy projects, email firstname.lastname@example.org
This home features:
- Soaring views with expansive rooftop deck
- Built Green 5 Star certification
- Clean lines with open spaces
- Lots of natural light
- 5 bedrooms
- 4 bathrooms
- 3,643 square feet
as well as net-zero technology which includes:
- Energy recovery ventilator to properly ventilate while providing highest air quality
- Solar panels that have the ability to fully power your home and eliminate energy bills
- Sense energy monitoring system which allows you to see how your energy is being used
- Ducted mini-split heat pump with AC for comfort
- High-performance weatherproof construction
- Smart home technology
- Induction range
Net zero homes are about the details. The accumulation of these details, of these seemingly small changes to the homes’ building process, multiplies the homes’ efficiency and comfort. To build these homes, Green Canopy has cultivated a vast system of checks and balances both originating from within the company and from partners of the company. The team at Green Canopy’s net-zero home in Magnoliarecently completed one such check: the blower door test.
There are well-known frustrations with homes built in the 70’s and 80’s that were sealed up very tight with little thought put into proper ventilation. Without that proper ventilation, the airtight homes get moldy and begin to rot. When talking about making our homes airtight, people often have reactions associated with these mold-prone homes in the past, but the contemporary phrase in the industry is to "seal up tight and ventilate right." With proper ventilation, we can get a temperature-controlled environment without the negative side effects. The home's structure is set up to last with a Heat Recovery Ventilator that reduces pollen and dust giving the home constant fresh air. The ventilator also takes the stale air from inside the house, recycles the heat, and joins it with fresh air from outside.
In the test, a blower door machine is mounted to an opening such as a door or window. A large fan located at the lower end of the blower door depressurizes the space behind the machine, and the ACH—air changes per hour—of the building can then be calculated with the help of the blower door’s manometer. Because the room is depressurized, the air is forced in through small cracks in the house's structure that would otherwise be invisible. With the smoke test and other tests, these air leaks can be found and sealed up, and homebuilders can create a more airtight home.
Most new construction homes do not undergo the blower door test, but those that do usually only manage to reach an ACH of 3 or 4. At completion, Green Canopy’s net-zero homes will have only 1 ACH. The difference is in the timing. Instead of conducting the blower door test when the home is nearly finished as many homebuilders do, Green Canopy enlisted Performance Insulation to conduct it during the framing stage, giving the team the ability to find and fill more of the house's air leaks. The goal is to seal the leaks up tight in the home, then add the proper amount of controlled ventilation to the home.
With so many of the air leaks in the house filled, less heat is needed to warm it, increasing efficiency and decreasing costs. This one detail, though it may seem insignificant, combines with others to create a home efficient enough to become net-zero after the installation of solar panels. Green Canopy’s goal in building net-zero energy homes is to help spark a transformation toward a more sustainable and resilient housing market.
Green Canopy is looking forward to the Built Green Conference 2017! CEO, Aaron Fairchild will be the moderator as well as a panelist alongside Co-Founder, Sam Lai and Vice President of Construction, Justin Hooks. Seattle mayoral candidates Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon and Seattle City Council candidate Teresa Mosqueda will join keynote speaker Alan Durning for an exclusive roundtable discussion, as well.
The conference "has been occurring annually for a decade with the aim of providing valuable and cutting-edge information on green building and sustainability. The conference will cover a variety of topics related to green building, ranging from building science to policy, from post-occupancy research to discussions on equity, affordability, and community issues. This content will be covered throughout the day, which will include a keynote address, a variety of sessions to choose from, and lunch, all followed by an awards ceremony and reception."
The Green Genius Award winners will also be announced and recognized during the reception & awards ceremony. Come meet the leading professionals in the green building and real estate industries!
Register before prices increase tomorrow!
We're looking forward to hosting the 6th Annual Green Genius Awards Ceremony at the 2017 Built Green Conference this year. The Green Genius Awards are the region’s first and only awards to honor real estate brokers who are helping to transform the residential housing market. By listing, marketing and selling homes that have an ecological and social impact in Seattle neighborhoods, these agents are educating a generation of homebuyers and disrupting the status quo of homebuilding. They are helping to change the paradigm of how real estate is valued in a growing city and working to build a more sustainable community.
The judging committee will be awarding one listing agent, one selling agent, one listing office and one selling office this year based on how many certified Built Green homes they've sold and how much they've promoted green building and the green movement in the past year. Here are this year's Green Genius finalists:
SELLING AGENT FINALISTS
Angelo Ongpin | Keller Williams Downtown Seattle
Michael Carnovale | Keller Williams Downtown Seattle
Melissa Harris | Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Northwest
LISTING AGENT FINALISTS
Van Wyck & Porter | Windermere Capitol Hill
Tom Skepetaris | Keller Williams Downtown Seattle
Ravi Dewan | Real Property Associates
SELLING OFFICE FINALISTS
Keller Williams Downtown Seattle
Coldwell Banker Bain
Windermere Wall Street
LISTING OFFICE FINALISTS
Berkshire Hathaway Northwest
To find out the winners, attend the awards ceremony with the top green agents and green building experts in Washington State, register here.
The Green Genius Realtor Awards and Education Program are made possible by:
Pioneers like Thomas Edison have been excited for decades about the use of solar power. “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that,” Edison anticipated. Starting this Fall, the first of many Green Canopy's Net Zero Energy homes will be available on the market in Seattle - with a commitment to offering these high-performance homes at a price that is on par with code-built new construction homes.
Green Canopy is a mission driven Portland and Seattle infill homebuilder. The Company has always built resource-efficient homes to a standard far beyond building code requirements, keeping our communities and planet in mind. In order to serve their mission, it is important to continually be changing, improving, and innovating. The Company has been conscious of this, and it is now advancing yet another significant step forward.
Zero Energy Bills, Less Negative Impact on the Environment
Net Zero Energy homes are revolutionizing green housing. Every Net Zero Energy home is modeled to produce as much power as it consumes over the course of a year using solar energy. They typically look like other modern and minimal homes except that they come with an abundance of benefits many people don’t realize. The thought of buying a house that is modeled to cover the electricity bill is cool, particularly in hot housing markets that feel hard to keep up with, like Seattle and Portland. By soaking up the sun’s rays these homes generate enough electricity to power the home over the course of the year. Solar panels on each roof are among the many applications that make this possible.
Higher Level of Comfort and Less Expensive to Own
Net Zero Energy homes are also more comfortable because their high-performance envelopes (the wall, roof & floor systems) are ultra-efficient; The cold spots and drafts common in simple code-built homes tend to disappear. Furthermore, the advanced appliances and ventilation systems help to ensure evenly displaced temperatures throughout. Due to the intense efficiency and solar power generation, these homes cost much less to operate, offering homeowners, even in the PNW temperate climes, hundreds if not thousands of dollars in savings in their electrical bills.
Understanding the Challenges and Breaking Through
As one would expect, building Net Zero Energy homes require a dedication to mastery. Most importantly, the roofs must be designed large enough to fit all the solar panels needed to offset the amount of energy needed. Additionally, most housing envelopes aren’t efficient enough so achieving net zero energy isn’t possible in most existing homes in the PNW climate. For example, the average Seattleite’s home has roughly 1,500 square feet and three floors and consumes about 28,000 kilowatts per year. To fit around 100 solar panels needed to offset the energy consumed by the average heat-leaking, Seattle house, it’s roof would need to be four times larger. However, if a 1,500 square foot Net Zero Energy home consumed </= 8,000 kilowatts a year instead, it would require roughly only 32 panels for the net annual energy consumption to be zero. Getting to this level of efficiency and performance requires a thoughtful and dedicated approach. To accomplish it, Green Canopy had to recalibrate several of its processes and checklists relating to feasibility, designs, estimating and purchasing, and project management.
Other builders have risen to the challenge over the years. However, a search on the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, revealed only five (5) of the tens of thousands of homes sold over the last 20 years have claimed to be a Net Zero Energy home. Though custom homeowners have built more Net Zero homes, they very rarely enter the market for sale. The building science and technology needed to make Net Zero Energy homes possible has finally caught up to the times. As a result, these homes will likely be available to buy at a far greater rate than over the last 20 years, and Green Canopy is set on blazing the trail to help transform the market as quickly as possible.
Green Canopy itself has built several certified Platinum LEED for homes, Earth Advantage Platinumhomes, Built Green homes, and Net Zero “ready” homes in the past. Net Zero “ready” homes are efficient enough to be Net Zero if the homeowner installs solar panels—the most obvious and expensive part— after buying the home. Additionally, on occasion, a home will be built to offset the electricity use but not the natural gas used for heating, cooking or domestic hot water heating, so the homeowner stills pays for non-renewable energy.
Net Zero homes are the future of home construction and ownership, and Green Canopy is determined to accelerate their arrival on the market. Evidence indicates that Seattle and Portland homebuyers are early adopters, technologically savvy, educated people who care and think about the environment and their long-term, financial investments. The Company’s commitment is to offer Net Zero Energy homes not just to higher-end markets but also to markets that young families and first-time buyers can afford, priced on par with new construction, code-built homes. “We aren’t looking to offer our homes outside of the current market’s range for homes,” Co-Founder, Sam Lai, states. “In every market area, there are run-down homes with single-pane windows and oil heat furnaces that sell for less than average. Likewise, code-built, new construction, well-designed homes with high-quality systems are selling for higher than the average at each price point in the market. We believe our Net Zero Energy homes will demonstrate enough benefit and value to homebuyers that they will be excited to experience the lifestyle, while being able to acquire them within the market range.”
The New Standard
Green Canopy’s first Net Zero Energy home represents the future for the Company as it rotates its entire pipeline to build only Green Canopy Net Zero Energy homes in the coming months and years ahead. This wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the dedicated team and partners such as Evergreen Certified, Van Wyck & Porter, and Northwest Electric and Solar. This is also made possible due to the Green Canopy design, purchasing, and project management teams that are so efficient the Company is able to maintain cost control far beyond industry standards. The Green Canopy team is a highly motivated and passionate group that follows a tight, quality-control system performing more than 50 quality inspection checklists throughout the time of construction. This ensures that Green Canopy’s homes are quality built, focused on craftsmanship and sustainability both inside and outside the walls.
For these reasons, Green Canopy Homes is proud to now be able to call themselves today and moving forever forward, Net Zero Energy homebuilders. "Our vision is to help make Net Zero Energy homes the new standard and broadly accessible across the income spectrum." – Aaron Fairchild, CEO.
Green Canopy is a Portland and Seattle urban infill homebuilder, developing environmentally advanced and thoughtful homes for sale to a broad range of communities and income levels since 2009. It is a certified B-Corp company with the impact investing community making up 100% of shareholders in support of the movement. Their mission is to inspire resource-efficiency in the residential market, with a vision to transform homebuilding and urban communities across the nation.
When Green Canopy began, our region was in the grips of a housing crisis. Streets were filled with “for sale” signs that wouldn’t budge. It seemed as though everyone wanted to sell before the market dropped further, and that no one really wanted to buy a home. Green Canopy’s solution was to acquire existing homes and deeply remodel them as certified Built Green Remodels for sale. The Company’s mission is, and has been since that time, to inspire resource efficiency in residential markets. Remodeling existing homes using sustainable methods and materials and certifying the home Built Green, was at the time the most viable and sustainable method for accomplishing the mission during the last housing crisis. However, as the market began to shift, Green Canopy began feeling the symptoms of a new emerging market crisis. Today’s housing crisis is a result of a shortage of supply and there are more people looking to buy than there are homes to acquire. The market economics have changed, making it no longer viable to buy homes, remodel them to a rigorous green building standard and remain in business. Rather than bemoan the current market, Green Canopy can now lean into its mission with a greater sense of purpose.
Green Canopy’s homes are nearly three times more energy-efficient than the average Seattle home.
It is difficult to achieve the same efficiency in an older home that you can when building a new home. A Green Canopy home includes energy-saving appliances, optimized heating and cooling systems, and is built with air-sealing, insulation and a design that helps to properly regulate the temperature of the home. Even if an old home is renovated with the same benefits, the efficiency of the remodeled home cannot match the efficient structures of a new Green Canopy home.
Building more homes on each lot is more resource efficient and helps to preserve the bioregion around us.
By optimizing each lot in the city, we can slow down the rapid expansion and sprawl that is inevitable as our cities continue to grow in population. By keeping our housing dense within the cities, we can continue to enjoy the beauty of the landscape around us and survive on the resources that it supplies us with. Shy of this, the metropolitan area will more rapidly sprawl and it will be harder to preserve the surrounding natural resources that we rely on. Adding density is simply one of the most resource efficient things Green Canopy can do.
Making the most use of each build-able lot helps to offset the negative impacts of gentrification and displacement. In a very short period of time we have become acutely aware that there are not enough housing options to equitably support our population. An emphasis on increased density is intensely important given that demand is forecasted to continue growing relative to supply. A sustained increase in demand will likely continue to drive prices up, and moderate- and low-income households further out unless we build more housing in all areas of the city. Building more homes on each lot, allows us to offer more resource efficient and well-built homes to a broader variety of occupants.
The previous structures that Green Canopy deconstructs, is salvaged and repurposed.
Although the Company no longer exclusively remodels existing homes, most of the existing structures that are deconstructed get to live on in other projects within the community. In 2014, we began a deconstruction company to learn what it takes to manage responsible deconstruction of existing homes. After training the team and taking apart three projects piece-by-piece, the team learned that it was simply not cost effective to continue in that manner. , As a result, the Company worked to build lasting relationships with local organizations to selectively harvest reusable material from existing homes. By adding only one or two more days to the process, the materials include embedded infrastructure like floor and wall-framing members, not just old door nobs, or cabinets. Today, the company works with groups like Ballard Reuse and 118 Design to recycle, reuse and repurpose materials from existing homes.
118 Design is a part of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission; their program works with young men (ages 13 — 26) in the Rainier Valley to decrease gang membership in Seattle. The young men in the 118 Street Outreach program transform broken and discarded lumber into quality, urban inspired, one-of-a-kind furniture.
Their Street Outreach program offers:
Technical job skills training
Workplace environment education
Business and entrepreneurial classes
Leadership and role model opportunities
Mentors and counseling services
Accountability and drug testing
Additionally, Green Canopy can occasionally offer the neighbors of an existing home an opportunity to claim items from the home to reuse and repurpose before these other organizations gain access. A few items that neighbors have been excited to reclaim have been: kitchen cabinets, a farm-house sink and vintage light fixtures, etc.
Where Exactly Do Our Deconstruction Materials Go?
Taken from a sampling of three of our projects, this is where we have donated and diverted waste from the landfills to (see individual waste diversion reports here):
• Asphalt Shingles: Evergreen Shingle Recycling, CDL
• Construction Debris: Clean Scapes, CDL
• Crown Molding: Ballard Reuse
• Washer Dryer: Ballard Reuse
• Lath: 118 Design
• Clean Wood: 118 Design
• Siding: 118 Design
• GWB: New West GWB, Resource Recovery
• Metal: Recycling Depot, Seattle Iron and Metal, CDL
• Wood: Ballard Reuse, Port Townsend Paper
• Windows: Habitat for Humanity
• Brick: Dirt Exchange
• Concrete: Renton Concrete Recyclers
• Cardboard: CDL
• Land Clearing: Dirt Exchange
• Rock and gravel: Dirt Exchange
We continue to inspire resource efficiency by salvaging architecture and have taken the necessary steps to get even better at it. When we started, it looked like remodeling; now it needs to be mindfully crafting more well-built, eco-friendly homes for a vibrant and diverse city.
Learn more about how to Recycle Construction & Demolition Materials
Summer is just around the corner and that means the building season will soon be in full swing. Do you know how to properly dispose of the waste materials from your projects? Please join us on June 29th to hear from two speakers who will provide strategies to manage construction and demolition materials sustainably and legally. Kinley Deller from the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks’ Solid Waste Division will talk about existing and forthcoming codes regarding recycling and disposal of these materials, and Justin Hooks, Vice President of Construction Planning at Green Canopy Homes, will offer tips for reaching a 100% recycling rate in your projects. The event is sponsored by the King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review.
When: Thursday, June 29th 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Where: Snoqualmie Falls Room at King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review office, 35030 SE Douglas Street, Suite 210, Snoqualmie.
Who: This event is open to the public and will be especially helpful to contractors
Cost: Free & lunch is provided
Mission Metrics: Case Studies on Impact Part 1
Written By: Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy
"The current housing crisis can not be easily solved because the issues are not black or white. Our solutions will require a more colorful, creative and collaborative approach."
Green Canopy is a walkable urban infill developer with a mission to Inspire Resource Efficiency in Residential Markets. Since our company's inception, we believed one solution to our global resource scarcity and climate change issues should be infill homebuilding done differently. So began our journey to create a different kind of homebuilder that is more socially and environmentally aware and responsive. In the weeks ahead Green Canopy will publish a series of blogs and data sets that highlight some of the more curious approaches we incorporate to help create positive social and environmental outcomes.
We began Green Canopy as a for-profit, market-based model with the desire to make a difference. The thinking was that if we were successful in making a difference, profits would follow and allow the Company to scale our outcomes and impact.
In 2009 we purchased our first infill lot. Our next 59 homes were deep-green, energy efficient, complete home remodels. With the subsequent changes in the market and City regulations, we pivoted entirely to new construction with an emphasis on energy efficiency, sustainable methods and materials as well as increased density through a fabric of single-family, duplexes, triplexes and rowhouses; a mix of housing that is considerably more resource efficient where urban land is scarce. Rather than remodel one home or replace an old home with one new home, we now replace a single, older home with an average of four new, third-party green built certified homes that are over 300% more resource efficient than what was there before. We will sell roughly 40 third-party certified, deep-green homes in Seattle and Portland this year.
As a mission-focused homebuilder we are often looked at with confusion and curiosity from other homebuilders. Occasionally we are mocked and written off as “do-gooders.” It is often assumed that we really don’t know what we are doing. After all, homebuilding is an old profession, historically operating in a similar manner for generations.
Well, the times have changed in just one generation, and many of us have not yet recognized it. In the last 50 years the population has doubled. The consumption of water and food has tripled and the use of fossil fuels has quadrupled. Species are going extinct at a rate of 1,000 to 10,000 times of the normal background rate of 1 to 5 a year. We currently lose dozens of species a day. Humans have done more irreparable damage to the planet in the last 50 years than all of humanity before. Today, humanity continues to flood our cities in droves. Managing the increased density has triggered a serious societal housing problem that will likely be with us for years to come.
As a result, Green Canopy is increasingly relevant in these turbulent times. However, our business model is not a perfect solution, and no solution is. Our housing crisis will not be easily solved because the issues are not black or white. Our housing issues are full of pigment requiring more colorful, creative and collaborative approaches.
Embedded in this thinking, perhaps a silver pellet is revealed? Green Canopy is not a panacea. We are simple. Green Canopy is not particularly sexy. We are straightforward. Green Canopy is not a silver bullet. We are just one pattern in the colorful quilt of potential solutions needed to increase access, affordability and sustainability in urban housing.
In 50-years from now, when we have 14 billion human heart beats on the face of the planet, underwater coast lines, food and water security issues, what will our cities look like: Bastions of hope, or of hopelessness? In 50-years Green Canopy’s homes will still be standing as evidence of the purposeful actions that an earnest group of investors and operators took to help make our cities bastions of hope and opportunity.
Up next - Part 2: Community Meetings Provide Context
Community meetings are not required for the relatively small-scale development projects undertaken by urban infill homebuilders. However, for the last four years Green Canopy has been conducting community meetings for every project we have undertaken. We will share our rational and the data collected from the surveys we have given to the neighbors in the communities in which we build.
With waves of humanity flooding into our neighborhoods, and no simple or easy solution to address our density issues, take some time to read through these two Sightline research articles. They are informative, well researched and helpful as we consider the choices ahead of us. Both of these articles highlight the need for Green Canopy’s approach to increased density.
By: Krystal Meiners, Director of Marketing
What are the most impactful personal or business choices I can make to fight climate change? And is it my responsibility to do so?
As Green Canopy gears up for our first Empower Happy Hour of the year – I’ve been thinking about Forterra’s question of the evening. What are the most impactful personal or business choices that I can make to fight climate change? And is it my responsibility to do so? The second part always resounds with a bright, assertive “Yes!” in my mind. However, the other part of this question flutters and lands throughout my workday, across my desk, in and out of meetings; with answers both big and small. What are the most impactful personal or business choices that I can make to fight climate change?
My internal responses tend toward the personal solutions; challenges to buy local, volunteering for park cleanup in my community, reducing my consumption, eating more vegetarian meals, meditating on the power of fresh air, spending more time with my family outdoors connecting to nature. Beyond the personal, though, what are the business solutions that I can lean into to fight climate change?
In our Energy Performance Guarantee Program at Green Canopy, we have the opportunity to influence and incentivize conservation behavior with our homeowners. This guarantee amplifies our impact and empowers our homeowners to be able to live more efficiently and with a smaller carbon footprint than the average Seattle homeowner. We guarantee that each home that we build will perform as it was modeled by our third-party energy audits, or we will reimburse our homeowners the difference.
For the past two years, we have collected energy performance data through this program with surprising results. What we learned was that the majority of our homeowners were not buying into the program, and that the ones that did admitted that they did not understand their building systems well enough to operate their homes efficiently. Nearly two thirds of the claims that were submitted to us were showing overages beyond our 3rd party energy models. The average deviation from all of our claims was a 966kWh overage against the model. While that number is not a lot considering the average Seattle home consumes over 28,000kWh in a year, we still believe that this program is an incredible opportunity to influence, inspire and educate our homeowners. We want this program to be able to drive efficiency in our product in order to create real impact in our fight against climate change.
That is why our team is actively working to improve our process, educate our homeowners, and collect more data in order to achieve greater effectiveness. At the end of the day, we do more than just build homes. We want to live into our mission to inspire resource efficiency. The Energy Performance Guarantee is simply one business solution that we have that empowers our homeowners to live better, more efficiently and closer to the planet that we share.
Stay tuned for more ideas in our upcoming blog series "Mission Metrics: Case Studies on Impact."
With the annual Built Green conference is only five days away, we’re getting increasingly excited to gather as a community of green building professionals to exchange ideas, connect and honor those among us who have done an outstanding job this year of bringing people into Built Green homes. Before heading into the weekend, we took a minute to get to know one of our Selling Agent of the Year finalists – Daniel Burton of Redfin.
AN INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL BURTON
GREEN GENIUS SELLING AGENT OF THE YEAR FINALIST
Now that the green building movement has become more mainstream in Seattle, what are the most relevant value propositions that make homebuyers choose green homes over a code-built conventional homes?
People don’t always realize that sustainability is more cost effective in the long run. The process of real estate development is already so complicated; to raise the bar on the quality of construction and integrating all of those green features says a lot about the product that you’re buying into. While it does take more advance planning, time and thoughtfulness, it’s so worthwhile in the end. The final product is not only built better, but it was done using non-toxic and renewable-sourced materials. You know that it’s not just thrown together, which can happen with a lot of new construction projects.
When people make the connection and actually see the numbers add up, not only in the short term but in the long term life cycle of the building, they see that you can save thousands and thousands of dollars if you just make a few smart choices upfront like focusing on high energy-efficiency appliances, improved ventilation, LED lighting, and capturing natural daylight whenever possible.
How can we push the green building movement forward?
I think the best way is to brag about it – to promote it more. People don’t always know what they want until they know it’s an option. Once they understand they’re options and are educated, they’re like ‘Yes, this is definitely what I want’. The more we do that, the more the industry will feel pressure to accommodate those demands. In a sense, consumers vote with their dollar. Employing visuals that can incorporate the data, like infographics, so that more people can actually see the differences in Built Green homes, which could help make green standards the new normal. It’s one thing to read about it, but a visual that puts it all together for you really helps the ideas click.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability to me means a comprehensive, holistic, and thoughtful approach to how human initiatives impact our world now, and more importantly later. It also involves an identity shift to thinking about ourselves as global citizens who think globally and act locally. A collective effort to pursue a Triple Bottom Line mindset where people, planet and profit are taken into equal consideration is essential as well. From a real estate perspective, we have to think about how our buildings effect the people and animals that live in or around them, health-wise, cost-wise as well as how our built environment impacts its surrounding natural world.
Why do you think the Seattle area is national leader in the green & sustainable building movement?
We were one of the first cities to make it illegal to not recycle and implement standardized compost. That kind of ‘granola’ culture has been part of Seattle's natural fiber for a long time; since that was already here, it was a really good place for this kind of movement to take off. A lot of people are already mindful of these types of things. The Native American history that is woven into our region may have also played a part, especially concepts like the Seven Generations principle – the idea that anything you’re doing today needs to be thought of in terms of how it will impact, not just people today, but seven generations from now. I think that captures the spirit of the green building movement, because it’s not just about saving money now, but also being really serious about how our actions will impact the planet seven generations later.
The landscape and regional locality of Seattle is also really important to consider. We’re so incredible lucky to have nature all around us. We’re positioned between two major mountain ranges, in a beautiful valley of vegetation with water surrounding us. All of that is definitely something that is propelling the sustainability movement. We can’t not think about it, because it’s all around us.
What do you like to do to enjoy the PNW summers?
Some of my favorite summer activities are hiking and camping in the Cascades and the Olympics, as well as taking an annual trip to Lake Chelan.
What is your favorite place on Earth?
It might sound cheesy, but it’s Seattle. I’ve done a lot of traveling, especially all over the U.S., and after visiting so many different states I feel really lucky to be in Seattle. This is where it’s at.
If you could be an Olympic athlete, what sport would you want to compete in?
It would have to be snowboarding. My fate was sealed by having the same last name (Burton) as such a popular snowboarding brand!