Green Building

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

Zero Air Leaks in a Net Zero Home

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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.

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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.

Built Green Conference 2017

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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!

2017 Green Genius Awards Finalists

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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
Metropolist
RE/MAX Metro

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:

Solar Powered Homes Charging into the Pacific Northwest

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.

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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.”

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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 CertifiedVan 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.

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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

Density Decisions

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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. 


Additional Reading:
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.

Amplify your Impact by Empowering Others

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."

Gearing up: The Built Green Conference and Awards are Right Around the Corner!

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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!

The PNW is the hub of Greener Living: Thanks to These Geniuses

We are thrilled to highlight another year of excellence in green real estate. The 4th Annual Green Genius AwardS are right around the corner and we are excited to introduce some fabulous brokers this year. As the PNW transforms into a hive for sustainability - these brokers are capitalizing on new greenbiz trends in real estate. On September 13th We will be awarding the top Listing and Selling Agents as well as the top Listing and Selling offices at the Green Genius Award Ceremony during the Built Green Conference. These teams and individuals are key players in helping to transform the market, and their influence contributes to the growing trend of bringing more Built Green homes to the market every year. We’re excited to honor the great work they’ve done and the value they bring to their client’s lives. 
 
We hope to see you there! 

AN INTERVIEW WITH FIORE PIGNATARO
GREEN GENIUS LISTING AGENT OF THE YEAR FINALIST

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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? 
 
It’s a combination of things. There are definitely individuals who are really interested in the metrics and being able to see the difference in a very concrete way and understand the processes involved. That exists particularly in Seattle, where we have quite a sophisticated group of buyers and sellers. But it also has to be valuable to a greater audience, to the bulk of buyers who are right there in the middle.
 
Articulating the value to that group of people and helping them understand how a Built Green home is going to be financially sustainable over the long term is really important. One builder that I work with is very hands on and accessible to buyers. His willingness to meet with them in person and articulate that value really helps the buyer feel confident that it’s not just smoke and mirrors, it’s real, data driven information.
 
In your professional opinion, how can the green building movement continue to push our society and communities toward more sustainable living? 
 
Systems that will be able to constantly renew your ability to harvest your own energy such as solar panels or geothermal position you to really be able to pull yourself away from the grid and be self sustaining. That’s super exciting to me.
 
How do you incorporate sustainability into your own life?
 
Right now I’m remodeling my own home. I’m trying to bring in as many sustainable systems as I can, like solar panels, an improved heating system and tightening up the insulation. I’m looking at how these improvements are going to help me save money over time, and I also think there’s a lot more care and quality in this kind of development. Builders that build sustainably have put a lot more into that house, period. You’re just getting a better product over all, the bar is set much higher.
 
Why do you think the Seattle area is national leader in the green & sustainable building movement? 
 
It’s part of our DNA as Seattleites! We have the mother ship for REI here, mountain climbers, people who move here so they can be skiing in 45 minutes and people who hop on Lake Union on a Tuesday afternoon for sailing races. While Seattle isn’t necessarily a rugged frontier anymore, I think that’s how it started and you have people who wanted to preserve that spirit and character from many, many decades back. Now that we’ve had this tech boom, they go hand in hand because it’s brought a demographic of people who are looking for above average homes.
 
What do you like to do to enjoy the PNW summers?
 
I love playing soccer, running, getting out on the Puget Sound and going crabbing and harvesting oysters with my family at our beach property. We actually have our own oyster bed there.
 
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
 
The Italian Riviera. While I’ve been there before, I really hope to go back soon. I was a teacher for 12 years before I got into real estate, and got to teach at an international school in Genoa, Italy. I’d love to be able to be able to go back and visit every little hamlet and unknown city on that stretch of coast. It’s like a second home to me.
 
If you could be an Olympic athlete, what sport would you want to compete in?
 
It would have to be something in track and field. The marathon would definitely be a candidate, or the 1500-meter or 200-meter sprint – which is always such a dramatic race. The Olympics is still the pinnacle of running going all the way back to the ancient Greeks.

Seattle's Branded Builders: 2015 Market Share Report

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4034 Linden Ave N - Green Canopy Homes, Image Courtesy of Soundview Photography

The numbers from the NWMLS are in! Below you will see the list of the Top 20 Branded Builders in Seattle as pulled from our local Multiple Listing Service data. More importantly, you will also see the percentage of the homes that each builder listed as certified Built Green.
 
Why is this data useful? It is a market insight that clearly shows builder trends and market impact. The data reveals the local trend toward more sustainable construction practices that impact our region and our nation. As Seattle remains at the top of national growth centers - builders here are in the spotlight and the quality of our housing stock sets a precedent.

So, how do Green Certifications impact our market? The Built Green certification standard means that Built Green certified homes were built to a standard that is beyond code. Simply put, Built Green certified homes are better than code-built homes because they are built to a standard that meets and exceeds our building codes. Not only are certified Built Green homes better quality than standard code built homes, but they cost less to own, have a reduced impact on the environment and put less strain on our water and energy resources. They are less toxic and have better indoor air quality which is imperative considering our growing asthma rates for adults and children across the US. Life in these homes are simply more comfortable and healthy.

Why aren't all builders building to this standard? Often the argument you hear builders make for not building to a standard that exceeds code is that it costs too much money, or that people will not pay extra for better quality. And yet most of the builders in the Top 20 are building at least some certified Built Green homes. So it stands to reason they have figured out how to make it work. Green Canopy would like to continue to encourage the Seattle homebuilding community to advance our collective building practices and embrace green building standards and techniques wherever and whenever possible. There will always be better quality homes than others, and homes that are more “green” than others. For those builders that have built and are continuing to build leading edge quality homes – THANK YOU and keep on keeping on blazing the trail for all of us to follow!

1122 23rd Ave S, gProjects; Images Courtesy of gProjects

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Susan Stasik: 3rd Time Finalist, Full Time Genius

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Last week we posted about local Brokers who are making an impact in the Seattle real estate market. That list could never be complete without a hat's-off to Susan Stasik. Susan has won the Green Genius Awards for Listing Agent of the Year for the last two years - and we are so honored to know her, her work and the work that she does with one of Seattle's most notable builders - Dwell Development,

Dwell's mission is to create livable, walkable, sustainable communities. They are responsible for completeing over 40 Built Green properties in the mixed-income community of Rainier Vista near the light rail - as well as completing the first Emerald Star Built Green Spec Home in Seattle.

That's what the Green Genius Awards are all about - educating a community and transforming the market to consider sustainability when homes are bought and sold. That's Susan's job. 

Susan Stasik
Green Genius Listing Agent of the Year Finalist
Windermere Real Estate  -  Madison Park

  • Sam: What gets you excited about the green building movement?

  • Susan: I am buying some acreage in Ce Elum’s high country where I hope to some day soon build a home as close to off-grid that I can achieve, so my most-immediate answer would be solar. Building a home that doesn't have to be hooked up to utilities is an amazing feeling. And now so many buyers and builders are using solar and that is an exciting thing to take advantage of. 


  • Sam: What was your favorite green project?

  • Susan:  Probably our most recent Emerald Star project. From finding the lot at the very beginning to getting the site orientation correct, and all of the details like the 450% efficiency Sanden heat pump, the barn wood, and the energy efficiency. The Emerald Star home was pre-sold, but there was so much geeking-out about the home. It was fun.


  • Sam: What advice would you give to buyers and sellers of green homes?

  • Understand the green features... there's a difference between green enough vs sustainability/health and energy efficiency.


  • Sam: What do you like most about living in the PNW?

  • Susan: I love Seattle. It is a vibrant, big city with big city issues - but the progressiveness of the city is amazing. You can't get that everywhere. We are lucky.


  • Sam: What was your superlative in high school – (ie most likely too…)?

  • Susan: Most likely to Lead. I had a wide assortment of friends.


  • Sam: What is your favorite pump up song? 

  • Susan: Most recently it would have to be the mashup of Rachel Platten & Kelly Clarkston's Heartbeat Fight Song.


  • Sam: What is your favorite comfort food?

  • Susan: Definitely cheese & bread.

Is your Dream Homea Green Home? The Challenges of First Time Home Buying

Leah Missik - The new Director of Built Green talks to happy hour guests about the Built Green program.

Leah Missik - The new Director of Built Green talks to happy hour guests about the Built Green program.

Last month we had the honor of hosting Greendrinks with a fantastic group of organizations. The Youngstown Cultural Arts center was buzzing with folks from Built Green, Sustainable Seattle, Green Canopy and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission; all there to answer one question for the happy hour attendees - "How can we make green homes more accessible to first-time homebuyers?"

Promoting green building in the retail, real estate market is a paradigm shift in the way we have traditionally shown and sold homes in the past. Value in real estate has always been determined by location, price, amenities, neighborhood, school districts, etc. with little thought given to long term investment in things like utility bills or walkability.  However - as we see the Millennial generation step into the homebuying arena - a generation known for their values-based consumerism -  we can and should expect these individuals to be more interested in long term savings from resource conservation, healthier and local materials that benefit the local economy, and access to amenities in walkable locations that will keep them out of their car. It's not just the Millennials making these decisions though. Today, the typical homebuyer is tech-savvy and non-traditional. They tend to research more or their own and, while decisions still weigh heavily toward cost and location, energy efficiency is topping the charts on the "Must Haves" list for new buyers.

That being said - there are still not a lot of resources to help first time buyers get exactly what they want from the traditional real estate market - and certainly not many incentives to help aid in that decision to go green. Speaking from my own home buying experience, you tend to throw your values out the window when things start to get competitive!

Greendrinks was a perfect opportunity to explore the ideas and programs that are currently at the intersection of the market and values. Folks left the following comments on our interactive ideas board - and conversations circled many of these topics and solutions all evening.

  • More education - many people do not know where to start when it comes to homebuying for the first time. Green homes can quickly become less of a priority as bidding wars heat up the market and first time buyers are forced to keep searching when product is scarce.

  • Incentivize green building - making it worthwhile for builders to actually build green product is a huge part of the equation. Programs like WSHFC's Energy Trust and Built Green - make it easier for builders to finance projects and adapt green building practices that make an impact in our market.

  • Incentivize green home purchases - Green mortgage loans and new products like WSHFC's Energy Spark program are paving the way for buyers to experience real financial relief on their mortgages for purchasing a green home. Additionally, programs like Green Canopy's Energy Performance Guarantee give buyers the peace of mind that their home will perform as it was modeled. This 3 year guarantee means the builder will pay any utility bill that exceeds the amount modeled in the Energy Performance Score.

As mentioned above - the Greendrinks event was an opportunity to talk about a new program from Washington State Housing Finance Commission that was launched just this month. We were especially excited to be alongside WSFC as they revealed Energy Spark - a program that works hand in hand with their down payment assistance program for first time buyers. This incentive comes in the form of an interest rate reduction for mortgages on energy efficient homes. You can learn more about it in this short clip from Kiro News. 

Community Opportunity: How to Impact the Seattle Housing Market

"The current fight over how we should pay for affordable housing, and who will fund it, is beating on the wrong drum."

Social and environmental impact investing and businesses continue to capture the interest and imagination of the Pacific Northwest, part of a broader global trend. Local early adopters affiliated with Element 8Impact HUB SeattleSeattle ImpactMission Investors Exchange and other institutions and individuals have forged impact investment paths that many others now find themselves traveling. It’s exciting to see the local impact investing ecosystem and communities flourish. However, a market imbalance persists with more impact investor dollars available than the limited number of qualified investment opportunities can absorb. Fortunately we’re seeing signs that the supply of impact investment opportunities is starting to catch up with demand from impact investors.

Green Canopy is an example of an impact-investor funded company that has been fueled by local early adopters. The company operates in a commodity industry: designing and building single family homes. However, we have been fortunate to attract thoughtful, impact-motivated equity and debt investors, due in large part to our mission, vision and values focused on achieving long term positive environmental and social change while simultaneously pursuing solid financial results.

Since 2011 Green Canopy has acquired nearly 90 projects; steadily building a community of homeowners, real estate agents, employees, shareholders and fund members that share our passion to inspire resource efficiency in residential markets. Importantly, we pursue our mission while being uncompromising in achieving key sustainability metrics, paying our employees a fair wage, selling our homes at fair market prices and generating long term shareholder value. Green Canopy has an opportunity to demonstrate it is not only possible, but highly rewarding for all involved to create and operate under a business model predicated on shared, blended value creation.

Similar opportunities are emerging across a wide spectrum of investment strategies that seek to satisfy growing consumer and investment demand for highly impactful market-driven solutions. As Seattle continues to attract tens of thousands of employees each year to fill quality jobs at companies like Amazon, Nordstom and Microsoft, our entire region feels the benefits. And yet, we are all faced with the unintended consequences of the additional infrastructure needed to support increased demand for critical services, including affordable workforce housing. The current fight between the City and the Coalition for Sustainable Jobs and Housing over how we should pay for affordable housing, and who will fund it, is beating on the wrong drum. Neither side seems to be asking the right questions or putting forth a broadly acceptable or effective solution for quickly increasing the supply of affordable workforce housing. 

One example of an alternative solution is Bellwether Housing’s recently launched Seattle Futures Fund. Bellwether has successfully developed and managed affordable workforce housing in Central Seattle for 35 years. However, as affordable housing has become an increasingly rare commodity in the communities Bellwether serves, the organization has had to innovate how its projects are financed; necessity = the mother of innovation. Through the Seattle Futures Fund, Bellwether believes it will more rapidly scale the number of units available to house social workers, teachers, baristas, police officers, firefighters, government workers, data center workers and others that serve our communities. A potentially wonderful, local example that attracts private capital as part of the solution to develop housing that is affordable and accessible to our urban working families.

As a community, we must collaboratively develop innovative, smart, market-driven solutions to problems that impact a wide range of constituents. Hopefully, a greater supply of viable impact investment opportunities for investors to assess, like Bellwether’s Seattle Futures Fund, will be forthcoming in the near-term. In the meantime, we would encourage investors and entrepreneurs alike to continue viewing our social and environmental problems through the lens of impact opportunity.


Contributed by Kyle Mylius, Board of Directors for Green Canopy, Inc. & Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy, Inc.

Green Homes, Green Builders & Built Green

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Recently I was asked by a neighbor if I knew any custom green builders. Ahem! I proclaimed - I just so happen to work for one! What can I do for you? They were interested in building their very own green home in the near future and were currently saving to buy property on Bainbridge Island. Great! Let me know when you're ready, I said - and I can get you started. 

My neighbor's next question is one that we get often. How do I know if a builder is a green builder? Do they have to be LEED Certified? To which I replied... first of all - buildings are certified, people are accredited. What you really should look for when searching for a green builder is whether or not those sustainable business practices are embedded in the culture, their people and their product. But also - LEED, while it is an incredibly robust program, is not the only green building guideline out there. In fact - Built Green carries many advantages in our region. It's tailored to the needs of the Pacific Northwest - and is incredibly in tune with the builder community here.

Of course my neighbor had never heard of Built Green - which goes to show that the USGBC has a great marketing budget and a good hold on the market. Still - any green builder should be familiar with both - and that was my point.

In light of the conversation with my neighbor - I decided that I would post our latest Built Green Case Study that was submitted to their newsletter. Every Green Canopy Home is Built Green Certified, but this one was a particularly amazing rehab project that presold in Ballard. We were happy to work with Evergreen Certified to get the job done and truly believe that Built Green is a critical brand and program in the Pacific Northwest.


CASE STUDY
ARABELLA: 6527 5TH AVE NW

What can you do with a harsh, stucco-clad bungalow in Ballard? This 1911 home was thoughtfully reimagined by Green Canopy Homes and reconstructed into a charming yet modern home with light and bright spaces, a stunning communal kitchen addition and vestiges of reclaimed features throughout.  

This 4 star Built Green Home, nicknamed Arabella, was gutted and rehabbed – maintaining 75% of the original structure. The project was carefully deconstructed, with building materials source separated and recycled on site. This process allowed the team to harvest framing lumber to reuse as a feature wall – highlighting the history of the original home. 

Arabella was in desperate need of systems upgrades and originally tested in at an EPS score of 37,000kWh per year – nearly 10,000kWh over the Seattle average. Green Canopy replaced each system, incorporated a ductless heat pump, rigorous insulation and air sealing as well as spot Energy Recovery Ventilators to maintain fresh air in the new super tight envelope (3.7 ACH @50 Pascals). The project finished out with and EPS score of 16,000kWh, reducing energy costs by over $1,400 a year!

In addition to deep energy efficiency upgrades, Arabella exemplifies intelligent site design and finishes. Drywells and a rain garden infiltrate 100% of storm-water on site, and the new addition’s low impact, post & pier foundation minimizes site disruption.  Arabella’s stylish “pickled” cedar siding was dipped in a natural wood treatment that never has to be reapplied and patinas for protection. Better for the environment, and less hassle for the happy new homeowners!

Whether you are in the market for a green home, interested in building your own - or just looking for builders - it might be important to know whether that builder is leading the movement - or just following market trends. All green builders in the area should be keenly aware of the certifications, accreditation, and sustainable business practices such as deconstruction and recycling. The kinds of homes we build and the intentions of the people who build them impact our community, so ask questions

Home for the Holidays

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Contributed by Krystal Meiners; Director of Marketing

The holidays are usually a time for family, a time for friends and loved ones and a time of reflection and celebration for what you have. For many, it is also a time for worship or travel or even shopping.

What I find especially exciting about this Christmas – is that many families including my own and will be celebrating this holiday season in their very first home. All across Seattle (and the world really) there are people, couples and individuals building new traditions in a brand new place. It is a special time of year and a special moment to realize that, as a homebuilder, we are incredibly involved in the process of helping to build those dreams and traditions for people.

While our designers are not typically thinking of where to put the Christmas trees or menorahs – we are thinking about spaces in terms of entertainment, family, capturing moments, creating delight, delivering mystery and excitement, connecting to nature and cradling that low winter light from the Pacific Northwest. We think that the spaces we build can help shape these experiences into lasting memories that live with the home and create a safe and inspirational space for generations.

Green Canopy has built 20+ homes this year. We hope that that will equate to thousands of exciting, warm and happy memories for the families and individuals that will be celebrating this year in a brand new Green Canopy Home.

Welcome Home to our newest Green Canopy Homeowners and Happy Holidays to all!

Here are some of the inspirational spaces that Green Canopy has built this year:

"Density" Empowers Bold Conversations in Seattle

Contributed by Krystal Meiners

Good conversations are typically born in the company of good people. 

That was the driving thought when we created the Empower Happy Hour at the beginning of 2014. We wanted to have good, meaningful conversations with people outside of our own organization (because frankly we were all preaching to the choir internally and were probably consuming too much booze just to keep things interesting). What we didn’t want, however, was to host a formal event, or a networking opportunity. We wanted to have real conversations with interesting people, so the Empower Happy Hour was born.

The format of these events have always been the same… low key, in a bar, no nametags, no soapboxes, no formally led discussions – just a topic to unite us, an amazing sponsor and an impactful non-profit. Each event has been unique – but the most recent one in Ballard was especially inspiring and a great indicator for successful future events. We are truly thankful for the opportunity to have hosted with Sustainable Ballard and we were especially grateful to our sponsor Redfin Builder Services.

While this event was a bit different from our other Happy Hours - there were a couple of key ingredients that helped mold it into something very special and eye-opening.

1. An AMAZING question. 
Our non-profit cohost has always provided a topic of discussion for our happy hours – and Sustainable Ballard really hit it home with their topic.

a. Does Density = Sustainability?
b. Does Sustainability = Density? 

This two-parter really has a huge impact in Seattle right now and is on the tips of everyone’s tongues. Despite the "breathing room only" crowd – the quality of conversation was fascinating. Not everyone chooses to talk about the topic during our happy hours but this really captured the attention of many including Councilman Mike O’Brien who was discussing Ballard’s new apodments – considered both a scourge and blue-sky solution to housing in Seattle.

The rest of the conversations spanned walkability (a fun topic in light of Redfin’s recent acquisition of Walkscore) – as well as Ballard’s most recent developments and the addition of quality locations to eat, shop and sip. The idea of a “carless lifestyle” as the new definition of luxury was a spirited thought when considering the changing mindset toward livability in times of climate change and a return to urban living.

Not all of the conversations were light-hearted. Serious attention to community wants and needs and the impact of more density on transportation was a common topic; as was the builder-bad-guy issue with neighbors. Not everyone loves the way development looks, feels and changes a neighborhood – so thoughts on working with community were abundant. In particular - discussions around Green Canopy's new Neighborhood Design Survey and community meeting approach were inspiring to neighbors that had visited the event.

2.  Another key ingredient to the success of this specific happy hour was the LOCATION. 
We went against our own rules and decided to host the event in a small event space – but to keep it lively, we started off with drinks at the nearby Skillet – and then moved indoors. While it may have been difficult to corral folks - no one was lost and the “bar-hopping” effect made the event feel less stiff. 

Aside from just the venue – the fact that the event was held in Ballard – a community common to our hosts, co-hosts, sponsors and mired in the topic at hand – made it easier to talk about density relative to where we were all feeling excitement and pain. The Greenfire Campus was a perfectly inspirational space with only enough room to kiss or kill whoever you were speaking to. Skillet made for the perfect pre-funk, and Parfait made for the perfect after-hour snack.

We were very excited to host this event with Sustainable Ballard and Redfin. The event lasted well past our 6:30 cutoff and folks lingered having friendly discussions. While there was no Bocce, like our previous event at Von Trapps, and there was no policy big-wigs like our event with Climate Solutions – it was intimate, refreshing and exactly what we could have hoped for.

We definitely look forward to hosting many more Empower Happy Hour’s, and aim to keep them simple, sexy, and substantial. We hope you will join us the next one to help ADVANCE THE DISCUSSION.

The Empower Happy Hour is a quarterly event hosted by Green Canopy Homes. If you are interested in sponsoring the event or if you belong to a non-profit that is interested in co-hosting, please contact krystal@greencanopy.com . If you are interested in joining the event – please sign up for our Newsletter to receive updates on event dates and venues.

Where is Density?

Contributed by Krystal Meiners

As we gear up for the November Empower Happy Hour, I am excited to write an article that relates to the topic of Density.

Density is one of those subjects that can be mired in analytics – but it is also a very real phenomena that hits many hearts and can have an extreme impact on the life of a community. It has the capacity to improve or ruin neighborhoods – so it can be especially hard to know if you are doing it right.

One of my most recent and favorite density conversations was this past September at the Built Green Conference. The discussion was focused on enhancing Walkability in the suburbs by increasing the number and quality of connections between where people lived and where the wanted to go. The reason that I loved the conversation so much was because it completely challenged the notion that density does not exist in the suburbs.

Niko Larco, a professor from the University of Oregon and author of the book Site Design for Multifamily Housing: Creating Livable, Connected Neighborhoods, was the conference keynote. His address proposed that we take a new look at suburban density to see how we can make improvements in the walkability of what is currently existing. What he wanted to challenge was the idea that “No one walks in the suburbs”. Because, seriously… no one walks in the suburbs right?

When people think about the suburbs – they often think of sprawling single-family homes and whirling subdivisions that have no exits. It is true that this landscape exists a great deal in the suburbs and that this low-density development tends to blight  the countryside.

What we often glaze over, however, is the existence of real density. What Larco showed in his presentation was that DENISTY DOES EXIST in the suburbs. Maybe not in the single family housing that we are so familiar with – but perhaps somewhere else. What we are missing is that medium-density apartment developments are also a huge part of the suburban landscape and have been since the 70’s. While the analytics of density might point to extremely low ratios in the suburbs – the fact is that there are dense micro-developments that rival even the densest downtown core.

In fact, Larco and his students did a great study on walkability in the suburbs and surveyed hundreds of residents that live in apartment complexes throughout America. What they found was that, absolutely, people do walk in the suburbs. They walk to the convenient stores, they walk to the grocery store (even if it is through paths paved from hundreds of trips through the buffer zones), and they even knock down fences in an effort to get from point A to point B.

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I recall this kind of “suburban connection” from my youth. Particularly one that connected the woods behind my grandmother’s house to the back of the Dairy Queen. If we would have taken the paved route to this coveted location, it would have taken us three times as long to get our frozen treats – so we blazed trails, we pulled apart the fence and trampled through the poison ivy.

Now – while this kind of density isn’t what you would normally think of, and this kind of Walkability isn’t the type of trip that will show up on Walkscore – what I do love about this conversation is that it is about something more organic. It is about community-driven design in a sense. It is about people letting designers, planners and developers know what they want and where they want it.

It is about taking charge of your community. And that is really what this density conversation should be about, right? How can we enable the neighborhood to take charge of their community?

Larco has recently began working with apartment developers to give them a “recipe” for creating successful connections in and out of their development. Where these developers once built with blinders on – they are now noticing that, “hey, I don’t have to put up a fence around the whole property because there is this Pizza place right behind us.” And that saves money right?

It should and could be the same thing in any neighborhood. At Green Canopy we have recently taken steps to develop more community-driven designs. Our community meetings have become more robust – and our feedback is really changing the way that we design and develop properties. It is hard to marry what the neighbors want with what the market wants – but at the same time – there is no need to knock down fences, right?

Fresh Thinking From NW EcoBuild Community

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By Caitlin Hoeberlein and Krystal Meiners

Recently you may have seen several of our Green Canopy project managers and a few of our support staff breaking bread with the rest of the greenbuild community at this year’s NW Ecobuilding Retreat. This is one, special event that gets our construction team worked up and inspired by the big fresh thinking of our peers. Out of all of the conferences that we have attended and supported this season – this one is especially aligned with what we love about our work and the future of our work in other NW markets

Nine of our team members attended this gathering and here is what inspired them.

  1. Green Appraisal – Thanks for the Green Genius name-drop Fiona! This is one topic that we have really hit home with in real estate education, and a topic that builders battle constantly when trying to encourage change in the valuation of green building. Like this article from Builder Online recently stated “Many builders are fed up with a financing system that doesn’t put enough value on sustainable features and the savings they yield for homeowners.” The fact is that buyers who purchase energy efficient homes have a lower default rate – because these homes simply cost less to own! A point that we often drive home in our Green Genius classes. Change comes from within and we are especially thrilled to see the number of appraisers that frequent our classes.

  2. Reclaimed Materials – The topic of deconstruction and reclaimed materials is one that Green Canopy is head over heels for at the moment – so don’t be surprised if you see it mentioned here again! The case study HOME reclaimed, presented by Ryan Mankoski was excellent. Ninebark Design Build is doing some stand-up work and also recently won the Built Green Hammer Award for Project of the Year for this re-envisioned, reclaimed Tudor, also mentioned here on Curbed Seattle.

  3. Greenfire Campus: What DON’T we love about the Greenfire Campus? The alternative green building strategies like cisterns and geothermal energy is pretty amazing and a cool addition to the Ballard neighborhood. This project was brought to our attention a while back when Redfin asked for our help in teaching a “How to Buy a Green Home” class for their buyer clients. Redfin Builder Services represents the Greenfire and Solo Loft Developers and have had huge success marketing this project and its cool resource efficiency strategies. Well done!


We really enjoyed the energy of the event and the community of smart, greenbuilding pros working together to raise the bar and impact big change in the Pacific Northwest. Can’t wait until next year!

Green Canopy Branches Out

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When the founders of Green Canopy first launched a homebuilding business in 2009 in Seattle, the temperature of the room was tepid to say the least. Presenting a real estate venture in the middle of a recession doesn’t exactly make you look smart, even if you can say it with a straight face. But, what may have seemed like a huge risk then, was also humbly presented as having its rewards. The rewards were transformational, the cause was inspirational and the drive to create a deliberate and intentional homebuilding business that could move markets and protect mountains – somehow made it worth the risk.

Green Canopy recently closed on our first Portland project in the Arbor Lodge neighborhood of North Portland and we are incredibly excited for our expansion. We will be launching a Portland-centric real estate debt fund in the coming months so stay tuned. This is our climate change solution and we are making it happen! You can read more about our Portland Expansion by downloading our official press release here.