For blackberry lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and baseball fans, summer is a cherished time in the Pacific Northwest. It is also a time cherished by Green Canopy Net Zero Energy homeowners whose solar panels are performing at their highest potential. As the sunnier months are rolling through, some exciting trends are emerging regarding the energy that our homes consume and produce.
Green Canopy introduced the Company’s first Net Zero Energy Homes in Portland by holding a class with valued partners in the movement. New construction “Net zero” or “zero energy” homes are highly-efficient home powered by the sun and typically built to a higher certification standard — in this case Earth Advantage Platinum. With less than 10 ever transacting on the Portland Regional Multiple Listing Service in the last 20 years, zero energy homes are very unique. Real Estate Brokers and buyers are learning more about what zero energy is apart from the apparent solar panels. Benefits like: healthier, allergen-free air quality; comfortable, evenly-distributed heating and cooling; and smart, cost-saving technology.
The event was held in one of the two Green Canopy Net Zero Energy Homes. Introductions were given by Debbie Chase of First American Title who welcomed brokers with bites from Elephants Delicatessen. Green Canopy Cofounder, Sam Lai, explained the mission of the company and the desired outcome of regenerative communities. And Chris Dawkins and Brian Schmidt of Lightbox Portland shared stories about their lessons learned from building their zero energy project that sold last month in Northeast Portland.
To begin the class on zero energy, Peter Brown of Earth Advantage — green building certifier — divulged details on what makes up a zero energy home. For this certified Earth Advantage Platinum Zero Energy project, Earth Advantage visits the project site several times to audit the quality of building — something that is not done for code-built homes. It is tested on a range of performance metrics like efficient water and lighting fixtures, structural integrity, and the energy consumption versus production. Brown also explained that the performance of zero energy homes is dependent on the lifestyle of the occupant — a household of 8 would likely consume more energy than a household of 2. A lively discussion ensued about the accuracy of energy certifications when home occupants have significant impact on the energy consumption of the homes. One remark was how a car’s Miles Per Gallon may not precisely reflect a car’s performance due to user differences like the number of passengers in the car or a different driving styles.
Green Canopy Construction Program Manager, Ryan Nieto, answered questions on the home the group was sitting in. Brokers remarked on the simple design qualities that they appreciated like the high windows allowing natural light in while providing privacy from the street. Nieto discussed how living in a net zero or zero energy home is not a sacrifice for sustainability but rather a convenience and the way of the future: “Net Zero Energy is a lifestyle choice. We’ve built high quality, energy efficient, and healthy homes that empower homeowners to embark on their personal journey towards Zero Energy, without sacrifice comfort or livability while adding durability and value.”
The class adjourned and attendees were invited to walk through the home with the green building experts. Interactive “tags” were placed near distinctive features for attendees to learn about the features and their respective benefits for homebuyers.
“Our changing climate means we must reshape the way we grow and build to enable all people, both now and in the future, to thrive. For the building sector, this means dramatic and ambitious solutions including rapid market transformation for a net-zero carbon built environment…We need courage from all sectors of the industry to be radical, strategic and collaborative to reach our shared goals of carbon neutral(ity)… You are part of the solution.” -Rose Lathrop | Green Building and Smart Growth Program Manager, Sustainable Connections
AUTHOR | SAL LAI, COFOUNDER
What makes me thankful? Despite my concerns with our society’s trajectory, I am encouraged to see entire communities centering their lives around purpose and community— doing the courageous work to reverse global warming and fight social injustice at the same time. When I witness this, it reminds me that I do believe we are moving toward a more generous, integrated and regenerative way of living on this planet. This makes me thankful.
I had the pleasure of seeing evidence of this movement at the 2017 Sustainable Design and Development Conference in Bellingham, Washington. The theme for this year’s conference was “Transforming the Market to Carbon Neutral” and the strategies presented during the day were both challenging and exciting:
Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable | Patti Southard, Program Manager, King County Green Tools
In the opening keynote Patti Southard, Program Manager at King County Green Tools, addressed a room mainly full of white designers, architects, builders, consultants and researchers. Patti challenged us to question whether our projects (in an industry responsible for 45% of the Green House Gas emissions in the built environment) contribute to social justice in our communities for all people. She reminded us that we should exercise land use planning “as if people mattered” and informed us that in the ten years between 2007 and 2017, our African American population within the city of Seattle declined from 13% to 7%. Our society is only getting more economically stratified with minorities moving out of the city and Caucasians rapidly moving in. However; In King County, there are more languages spoken than any other city in the entire US except Los Angeles. By 2022, the population of American children will become “minority majority” for the first time. So, what does it mean for us to plan as if people mattered? Homeowners must focus on the value of diversity in our neighborhoods— to advocate and draw on the deep well of love and connection, rather than fear or anger. As homebuilders, we need to increase the affordability and accessibility of resource-efficient homes.
Building the Decarbonized Future | Vincent Martinez, COO, Architecture 2030
“In the wake of the US’s intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, it is clearer than ever that change in the building sector will come from the bottom up.” Vincent Martinez, COO of Architecture 2030, spoke about the importance of private-public partnerships (rather than public-private) to decarbonize the built environment in cities. Business and grass roots community groups will play an integral role in transforming our housing sector from the ground up. Many think tanks and research studies indicate that urban density is a primary, necessary strategy to decrease our carbon output while maintaining the infrastructure needed for another 1.1 Billion people in 15 years (the equivalent of a brand new, New York City built every single month). Are we willing to acknowledge and embrace the fact that our cities are growing and guide the momentum to a better outcome?
A special thanks to these other industry leaders for bringing these discussions:
Passive House | Alex Boetzel, COO of Green Hammer
“Reducing energy use – and consequently, CO2 emissions – of buildings, is an instant and continued action on climate change.” Alex Boetzel, COO of Green Hammer provided practical, actionable insight on energy use reductions of 65-75% using passive strategies so that buildings can become net-zero-energy and subsequently carbon neutral. Green Hammer has built homes in the Portland area receiving certifications including: Passive House, LEED Platinum, FSC, Earth Advantage and Living Building Challenge.
More Affordable Sustainability | Bec Chapin, Cofounder of NODE
“As gatekeepers to the change we want to see in the world, we have an opportunity to change the way we think about (home)ownership.” This transformation should allow more people to prosper in our quest for more affordable housing and sustainability in the built environment. Bec Chapin had the crowd pair up to actively share stories with one another, getting strangers to engage at a heart level and making her session the loudest and liveliest.
Shannon Todd and Don MacOdrum | TRC Solutions
On behalf of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Project Managers, Shannon and Don shared their vision and strategy for partnerships between local governments, certification programs and utilities to make green building an obvious and cost-effective choice for all builders. Their conversational style allowed us to understand the important “boots on the ground” work and how TRC is leading to break down the cost and system barriers to green building. Thank you for your hard work.
A few quotes from this presentation:
“What if our homes could represent the values that we are evolving into?
“What if we could build homes that were purpose-driven, balanced, community-focused, warm, generous, integrated, regenerative.
“We came together to start Green Canopy under this vision that the homefront was a leverage for transforming the way in which we live in our environment and we still believe that today. The tactics and our strategy has changed but the mission has stayed the same... we want to transform the real estate market."
Contributed by Alexa Ashley
Green Canopy's first net-zero energy home is now available on the market. This home is the first of it's kind in Magnolia with only a handful being listed on the NWMLS in the last 20 years. Green Canopy's Accounting Manager, Jen Trujillo remarks, "I didn't realize how few houses like this there are." The Company has been building a diverse range of homes (including single-family, townhomes, rowhouses, net-zero ready houses) in Seattle since 2009 and this project is their first net-zero energy home, which includes solar panels.
Green Canopy believes that net-zero energy homes are the future and will become the standard for new construction since they are more sustainable, comfortable and resilient. Project Manager, Wilson Deaton explains, "It's exciting because net-zero is really the pinnacle of green building... you can build as green as you want but until you get to a place where you're not using any energy in a house, then you haven't quite gotten there. If you can build a house that uses no energy, then you've completely switched the math when it comes to how much pollution you put out and how much carbon goes into the atmosphere– and that's the goal."
In the past, net-zero energy homes have been more expensive than similar homes, but Green Canopy has been able to offer this home within the normal market range by staying on budget (1.8% budget deviation compared to the industry standard of 13%) and implementing strict quality control checklists. The project manager, Valeriy Korol, who carried this project to completion says, "I think as a company we have a pretty good strategy (as to) why we're building the house. It's not about money, we're Green Canopy. We're trying to improve the world. We're changing the world. So... it's a small step overall, but it's a step to save energy, to think about the future of your kids and the future of the world."
The high-performing ventilation systems in these homes also provide a more healthy indoor environment as Deaton explains, "you have ERVs (energy recovery ventilators) and HRVs (heat recovery ventilators) so you can change the air and make sure you get enough fresh air... not to mention when you build Built Green 4 star or 5 star you're always using building materials that have less chemicals in them. Less harmful chemicals."
The project was recently listed, with it's first public open house and class to help brokers and buyers understand the benefits of net-zero and solar power. When asked why this project is exciting, Chief Financial Officer, Andy Wolverton, responds, "It feels like the next step. In the last few years... our quality has improved, our process has improved but what we're building hasn't changed all that much as it relates to our mission and this is evidence of that. Going another leap forward."
Thank you to all of of the Green Canopy partners who have helped make this leap possible including but not limited to: Northwest Electric & Solar, Van Wyck & Porter, Evergreen Certified, Performance Insulation, Built Green, and Tesla.
f you have questions about this property, would like to schedule a showing, or be informed of upcoming Green Canopy projects, email firstname.lastname@example.org
This home features:
- Soaring views with expansive rooftop deck
- Built Green 5 Star certification
- Clean lines with open spaces
- Lots of natural light
- 5 bedrooms
- 4 bathrooms
- 3,643 square feet
as well as net-zero technology which includes:
- Energy recovery ventilator to properly ventilate while providing highest air quality
- Solar panels that have the ability to fully power your home and eliminate energy bills
- Sense energy monitoring system which allows you to see how your energy is being used
- Ducted mini-split heat pump with AC for comfort
- High-performance weatherproof construction
- Smart home technology
- Induction range
Pioneers like Thomas Edison have been excited for decades about the use of solar power. “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that,” Edison anticipated. Starting this Fall, the first of many Green Canopy's Net Zero Energy homes will be available on the market in Seattle - with a commitment to offering these high-performance homes at a price that is on par with code-built new construction homes.
Green Canopy is a mission driven Portland and Seattle infill homebuilder. The Company has always built resource-efficient homes to a standard far beyond building code requirements, keeping our communities and planet in mind. In order to serve their mission, it is important to continually be changing, improving, and innovating. The Company has been conscious of this, and it is now advancing yet another significant step forward.
Zero Energy Bills, Less Negative Impact on the Environment
Net Zero Energy homes are revolutionizing green housing. Every Net Zero Energy home is modeled to produce as much power as it consumes over the course of a year using solar energy. They typically look like other modern and minimal homes except that they come with an abundance of benefits many people don’t realize. The thought of buying a house that is modeled to cover the electricity bill is cool, particularly in hot housing markets that feel hard to keep up with, like Seattle and Portland. By soaking up the sun’s rays these homes generate enough electricity to power the home over the course of the year. Solar panels on each roof are among the many applications that make this possible.
Higher Level of Comfort and Less Expensive to Own
Net Zero Energy homes are also more comfortable because their high-performance envelopes (the wall, roof & floor systems) are ultra-efficient; The cold spots and drafts common in simple code-built homes tend to disappear. Furthermore, the advanced appliances and ventilation systems help to ensure evenly displaced temperatures throughout. Due to the intense efficiency and solar power generation, these homes cost much less to operate, offering homeowners, even in the PNW temperate climes, hundreds if not thousands of dollars in savings in their electrical bills.
Understanding the Challenges and Breaking Through
As one would expect, building Net Zero Energy homes require a dedication to mastery. Most importantly, the roofs must be designed large enough to fit all the solar panels needed to offset the amount of energy needed. Additionally, most housing envelopes aren’t efficient enough so achieving net zero energy isn’t possible in most existing homes in the PNW climate. For example, the average Seattleite’s home has roughly 1,500 square feet and three floors and consumes about 28,000 kilowatts per year. To fit around 100 solar panels needed to offset the energy consumed by the average heat-leaking, Seattle house, it’s roof would need to be four times larger. However, if a 1,500 square foot Net Zero Energy home consumed </= 8,000 kilowatts a year instead, it would require roughly only 32 panels for the net annual energy consumption to be zero. Getting to this level of efficiency and performance requires a thoughtful and dedicated approach. To accomplish it, Green Canopy had to recalibrate several of its processes and checklists relating to feasibility, designs, estimating and purchasing, and project management.
Other builders have risen to the challenge over the years. However, a search on the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, revealed only five (5) of the tens of thousands of homes sold over the last 20 years have claimed to be a Net Zero Energy home. Though custom homeowners have built more Net Zero homes, they very rarely enter the market for sale. The building science and technology needed to make Net Zero Energy homes possible has finally caught up to the times. As a result, these homes will likely be available to buy at a far greater rate than over the last 20 years, and Green Canopy is set on blazing the trail to help transform the market as quickly as possible.
Green Canopy itself has built several certified Platinum LEED for homes, Earth Advantage Platinumhomes, Built Green homes, and Net Zero “ready” homes in the past. Net Zero “ready” homes are efficient enough to be Net Zero if the homeowner installs solar panels—the most obvious and expensive part— after buying the home. Additionally, on occasion, a home will be built to offset the electricity use but not the natural gas used for heating, cooking or domestic hot water heating, so the homeowner stills pays for non-renewable energy.
Net Zero homes are the future of home construction and ownership, and Green Canopy is determined to accelerate their arrival on the market. Evidence indicates that Seattle and Portland homebuyers are early adopters, technologically savvy, educated people who care and think about the environment and their long-term, financial investments. The Company’s commitment is to offer Net Zero Energy homes not just to higher-end markets but also to markets that young families and first-time buyers can afford, priced on par with new construction, code-built homes. “We aren’t looking to offer our homes outside of the current market’s range for homes,” Co-Founder, Sam Lai, states. “In every market area, there are run-down homes with single-pane windows and oil heat furnaces that sell for less than average. Likewise, code-built, new construction, well-designed homes with high-quality systems are selling for higher than the average at each price point in the market. We believe our Net Zero Energy homes will demonstrate enough benefit and value to homebuyers that they will be excited to experience the lifestyle, while being able to acquire them within the market range.”
The New Standard
Green Canopy’s first Net Zero Energy home represents the future for the Company as it rotates its entire pipeline to build only Green Canopy Net Zero Energy homes in the coming months and years ahead. This wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the dedicated team and partners such as Evergreen Certified, Van Wyck & Porter, and Northwest Electric and Solar. This is also made possible due to the Green Canopy design, purchasing, and project management teams that are so efficient the Company is able to maintain cost control far beyond industry standards. The Green Canopy team is a highly motivated and passionate group that follows a tight, quality-control system performing more than 50 quality inspection checklists throughout the time of construction. This ensures that Green Canopy’s homes are quality built, focused on craftsmanship and sustainability both inside and outside the walls.
For these reasons, Green Canopy Homes is proud to now be able to call themselves today and moving forever forward, Net Zero Energy homebuilders. "Our vision is to help make Net Zero Energy homes the new standard and broadly accessible across the income spectrum." – Aaron Fairchild, CEO.
Green Canopy is a Portland and Seattle urban infill homebuilder, developing environmentally advanced and thoughtful homes for sale to a broad range of communities and income levels since 2009. It is a certified B-Corp company with the impact investing community making up 100% of shareholders in support of the movement. Their mission is to inspire resource-efficiency in the residential market, with a vision to transform homebuilding and urban communities across the nation.