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Thinking Big - Environmental Benefits
At a base level, our designs start by meeting the stringent Seattle energy code and go from there to net zero, a yet to be realized goal of ours. We have been working with Puget Sound Solar to develop efficient environmental systems for all of our designs. Our notoriously cloudy wet weather here in the Puget Sound produces the most solar energy in the summer months when our electrical demands are the lowest. However, in a theoretical sense, we can bank our surplus energy by feeding into the national electrical grid when the demand of other regions peak and the water in reservoirs are at their lowest levels. Then we can withdraw electricity during the winter months achieving an overall sustainable model.
Our built work has all been in urban infill areas which is inherently sustainable. Increasing housing options that allow people to live where they work and play will have a positive impact for generations. We are quite excited about the expansion of Seattle's Backyard Cottage Ordinance. Seattle, like many cites, has updated its zoning code to allow cottage housing and small secondary houses (detached ADU's) on residentially zoned lots. Seattle and Portland are two cities which allow detached ADU's up to 800 sq. ft. in size. These cottages provide opportunities for families to say, accommodate an elderly parent or a growing family. They may also provide added rental income. Backyard cottages also enable increased density and affordable housing stock that helps Cities and regions meet their smart growth objectives.
Sustainable building does cost less. Construction cost is directly proportional to the size of the structure. In our theoretical model, this translates into real savings of tens of thousands of dollars in construction cost and hundreds of dollars a year in heating and cooling bills.