eco homebuilder

Architectural Salvage: Then & Now

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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. 

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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:

  • Internships

  • 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.

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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 RecyclingCDL
•     Construction Debris: Clean ScapesCDL
•    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 DepotSeattle Iron and Metal, CDL
•    Wood: Ballard ReusePort 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

Green Trifecta in Motion

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Post contributed by Aaron Fairchild:

I got back from the West Coast Green building conference recently, and I continue to be struck by issues of contrast. Green “do-gooders” and green “capitalists” mingle about with policy wonks like one big happy family. I have written about this contrast before. But what I continue to find is that, while tension still exists, we are for the most part coming together nicely. There are a lot of people out there who have been fighting for the environment and changing their behaviors for a long time. Some of these folks have a proprietary feeling regarding issues of the environment, but the majority holds open their arms to welcome in the mainstream. I see the convergence of three major sectors around a new green economic imperative or paradigm on the horizon: for-profit business, non-profit, and government.

On the government side, I had the opportunity to talk to a small business owner at West Coast Green named Nathan Doxsey who wanted his city to do more to support sustainability. Nathan owns a small real estate company in the city of Austin, and is focused on marketing Green homes. Nathan was instrumental in helping the city adopt a brilliant ordinance requiring most all residential homes to have an energy audit done during the purchase and sale of a home. Energy audits performed at the point of sale is just smart policy. Energy is a public good and the use and application of energy affects everyone in society. It is already a regulated resource and the thoughtful use and monitoring of energy should not be left entirely up to the free market. The arguments pro and con couldn’t be exhausted in one or even two essays. Needless to say, at G2B Ventures we are promoting a similar policy for the city of Seattle.

At West Coast Green I also listened to panel discussions that were full of good intention and short on actionable ideas. Those panel discussions brought me back a few years, because they had the activist feel without creating pathways to sustainability through profitability. However, I also met Adam Boucher at West Coast Green. His resume need only read: “Entrepreneur with a golden revenue model; eco-capitalist.” Adam is creating financing solutions at the project level in addition to bringing solar panel to over 100 homes in southern California. Go Adam!

More recently, this afternoon I was at a round table discussion at McKinstry sponsored by Climate Solutions talking about Federal regulation. That was the trifecta of for- and non-profit coming together with federal and state policy makers around the issue of climate change and cap and trade. I have rarely seen such as sense of possibility and urgency as I witnessed in that gymnasium.

In meeting after meeting, I have become more and more convinced the world is changing as you read this. All sectors of our society are pivoting toward green issues. Green had become code for being environmentally and socially responsible. Green equals awareness, but it shouldn’t only equal non-profit “do-gooder” or government bureaucrat. The free, public markets and making money is part of the economic green transformation. Note Apple rejecting the US Chamber of Commerce for its stance on climate change. Note Wal-Mart’s efforts to create a more sustainable supply chain. Note Daniel Pink’s video,  “the surprising science of motivation.” Green gives us a purpose to our businesses and makes those businesses more productive and profitable as a result. The green revolution is not only being televised, it is being brought to you in every sector of your life.