energy efficient homes

Now Available: First Net Zero Energy Home in Magnolia

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 & SolarVan Wyck & PorterEvergreen CertifiedPerformance 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 info@greencanopy.com

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
- EV-ready

MLS #1211653

You Blow my Mind Like a Ductless Mini-Split

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"What speaks to buyers when they are looking for a green or high performance home?" 

Contributed by Sam Lai, CMO for Green Canopy, Inc.

Last Wednesday I was on a panel at the Home Performance Guild of Oregon Conference in front of an audience of performance contractors, energy efficiency organizations, realtors and appraisers.  

My fellow panelists and I were discussing how to help customers understand the value of high performance homes, when Waylon White of Earth Advantage posed this question:

"What speaks to buyers when they are looking for a green or high performance home?" 

Sometimes the best way to answer a question like that is to describe what DOES NOT work. To that end, I recited awful pick-up lines that sound like they belong in a singles bar, but are value propositions for green and high performance homes gone horribly wrong!  

These were my top 5 “worst pick-up lines”  

5. Hello!  I’m really complicated and high maintenance.

4. Pick me!  Or else you will feel guilty the rest of your life.

3. I’ll cost you more than normal, but you’ll be thankful in 10 to 15 years.

2. I’m clearly not easy on the eyes, but I’m good for you.

1. I may not be that big, but I’m really, really, flexible.

Later, in the conference, there was a brilliant idea that cut through the noise of home performance geeks, like myself, whipping out the results of our latest blower door tests.  Fiona Douglas-Hamilton reminded all of us that green, high-performance homes are “simply better homes.”  

Ah, yes, thank you Fiona!  Great reminder.  For us, as we always offer our products at the same price (or more competitively) than other conventional homes.  And, while many of our homeowners did not start looking for a green home before seeing a Green Canopy Home - we hope that all our homeowners continue to feel that their homes are simply better homes. 

Keeping out the Giraffes

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Contributed by Sonja Gustafson:

What is Your Monster?

Last night was a beautiful Halloween evening; the sky was clear, the air crisp, and my neighborhood was alight with various ghosts and goblins going from door to door.   Then today came with gloomy grey skies and drenching rain, and we are faced not with the costumed monsters of our children, but the more terrifying specter of a cold, dark autumn.

This reminds me of a recent podcast I listened to where the narrator was working with his 5-year old daughter to caulk their home’s windows against drafts coming in.  The daughter watched silently as he ran the caulk along the window seams, and as their work progressed, finally asked, “Daddy, do you really think this will keep out the giraffes?”

I love the thought of that girl working out the problem in her head:  there are giraffes that want to come into our home!  Daddy is trying to protect us! But really, how can this silly gummy stuff keep those monstrous animals out of our house?

Maybe we all have huge monsters in our minds that are keeping us from imagining how simple it really is to “keep out the giraffes.”  Or maybe it’s difficult to imagine how something as simple as caulk can make such a big difference in the comfort of a home.  And yet, take a look at the chart below to see how many areas of our home can be made more weather tight with the some simple attention. Each of these represents an opportunity to make your home more comfortable while saving money on utility bill.

Now wielding a caulk gun to ward off the drafts is not the only way to fight the energy monster, but it is one of a number of simple things you can do today to make your home more energy efficient.  In the spirit of easily keeping out the giraffes/monsters out of your home, here are 5 simple things you can do to ward off the cold and save on your energy bills:

5 Things You Can Get Done Today

  1. Buy caulk.  Then read this tutorial on how to fix leaks in your home. (You can schedule the work for this weekend!)

  2. Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120°F.

  3. Install a programmable thermostat for your heating system.

  4. Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle – let them dry overnight tonight!

  5. Use a power strip for your computer accessories, phone chargers, and other “vampire” devices and turn off the strip when you leave the room.

If after completing this list you are ready to take on more energy monsters, you should consider having an energy audit conducted on your home to more thoroughly determine ways to make your home perform to its best. (Seattle City Light customers can get a discounted audit here) You can contact your local home performance expert (Washington users can search here to find an energy auditor) to help you with next steps.

And then you’ll be keeping out those giraffes

The Energy Rebound Effect

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Contributed by Canuche Terranella:

Peter and Kristi live in a 1915 un-insulated Craftsman house.  In the first months in their new home they kept their thermostat at 68 degrees.  In December, with their first energy bill, they learned this behavior costs $350/month. Oh the financial pain!

Energy efficiency improvements are motivated by pain.  Energy pain comes in two varieties: financial and comfort.  Most energy models are based on customers like Peter and Kristi making energy improvements to reduce wallet pain.  As soon as they’ve insulated their home they will continue to keep their thermostats at 68 degrees but consume less energy.  These models point to great reductions in energy demand based on customers with financial pain installing cost effective weatherization and insulation measures.  If utility companies can use rebates and incentives to encourage customers like Peter and Kristi to invest in improvements to their homes it will be as good as investing in new power generation equipment to keep up with demand.   The assumption is that the pain of high utility bills will motivate investment in energy efficiency improvements and decrease energy demand.

Another possibility, however, is that their twins, frugal Keith and Patsy, might choose to put off the efficiency improvements and instead turn the thermostat down to 50 degrees and put on a hat and scarf for dinner.  This choice shifts the pain from financial to temperature discomfort, a challenge for the traditional energy models.  When utilities predict savings from improvements to homes incentivized by rebates they don’t usually predict what happens when Keith and Patsy finally make energy improvements and take off their sweaters.

After saving for a year frugal Keith and Patsy install attic insulation and weatherize their home. Now they can turn the thermostat up to 68 degrees.  Their energy bills are a much more reasonable $100/ month but they are consuming more energy than they were when the thermostat was at 50 degrees.

This results in what building scientists call the rebound effect. The rebound effect describes the difference between the actual society wide energy savings after energy efficiency improvements are made and energy savings as predicted in the lab models. Sometimes the rebound effect can be so large as to even result in an increase in energy used across the society. The UK Energy Research Center studied this effect and pointed to human behavior as the key component of the rebound effect. While seemingly counterintuitive, the examples above make the point clearly for residential customers.

The commercial impact is even more striking. If a local bike manufacturer invests in a new, more efficient, welding process and can therefore produce bike frames more profitably, then it will likely build more bikes. More bikes mean greater electricity use and a net increase in demand to the utility.

Does this mean we as a society should stop investing in energy efficiency? I’d say no.   The bike manufacturer is now making more bikes every month for less energy per unit. More bike production means more economic activity for the region.  Peter and Kristi have a higher quality of life in their home and are likely more productive members of society as a result. The utility company increased the efficiency of the energy used in both cases. Overall the demand for energy may be higher but the benefit to society per unit energy used is improved. Incentive decisions must measure society benefit in addition to energy savings to decide which new efficiency programs to fund.

G2B Homes makes smart efficiency improvements to homes to help families find the sweet spot where energy savings and comfort create lower operating costs and a higher quality of life.