Deep Green Infill Project

Posted by on Nov 20, 2019 in Energy efficiency and green building
High performance new home

Project overview

When these clients relocated from the east coast, they knew they wanted a new home, on a view lot, in Bellingham city limits. With these parameters in mind they found a steep infill lot on South Hill and quickly got to work with local architect Michael Smith to design their forever home. We joined the team soon after.

Indoor air quality was key for these clients. The air quality of an average home is lamentable, often 2-5 times worse than outdoor air quality. We were determined to make this home much better than average, and we achieved that goal by relying on an extensive toolkit . The first step was to install adequate ventilation to bring fresh air in and carry indoor air pollutants out. In addition, we carefully considered all of the materials used on this project, focusing on those with little to no off-gassing. As a result, the interiors of this home are green, classic, durable and healthy.

Another key focus was building performance. Building performance is about more than low energy bills and reducing carbon emissions. It means our clients can walk around their home barefoot, year-round, without thinking twice. It also means their next-door neighbors can host band practice and they won’t end up being unwilling front-row concert-goers. This beautiful, super high-performance home is arguably one of Whatcom County’s most comfortable, durable homes. The choices these clients made along with their design team ensured that they will have more time to spend with their grandchildren, on their sailboat, and enjoying the beautiful PNW, rather than doing house maintenance. We think that’s pretty awesome.

Key details

  • Infill project in Bellingham’s South Hill neighborhood
  • New, high-performance single-family residence
  • Innovative heating and ventilation systems
  • Locally made, high-performance Cascadia fiberglass windows
  • 3” of exterior cork insulation and aggressive air sealing details throughout the home
  • Prioritized durable finish materials that were locally made, recyclable and toxin-free
  • Completed Spring 2017

Design team

  • Architect- Michael Smith Architecture
  • General Contractor- Chuckanut Builders
  • Interior Design- Chuckanut Builders
  • Building Performance Consultant- [bundle] design studio

The nitty gritty

Location and site details

  • Built on an infill site less than 2 miles from downtown Bellingham
  • Low-maintenance landscape featuring, native vegetation, which provides habitat for native wildlife species
  • The building site was steep, which did contribute to higher construction costs
Green building Bellingham

Comfortable and efficient

  • Exterior insulation –  3” of Thermacork insulation helps to reduce thermal bridging as well as providing sound-proofing while also increasing efficiency.
  • Interior insulation – Dense packed cellulose in the walls, floor and ceiling.
  • Air sealing – We’re going to get nerdy for a minute here. On this project we completed aggressive air sealing, ensuring minimal air leaks. The final blower door test was 0.8 air changes per hour (ach). Code-minimum homes have about 5 ach and Passive House standard is a maximum of 0.6 ach. Suffice it to say this house is cozy. 
  • Weather resistive barrier (WRB) – SIGA Majvest heavy-duty exterior wall membrane in conjunction with a rain screen. This membrane protects the exterior walls from water and condensation, reduces unwanted air flow, and allows water vapor to pass between the siding and the sheathing which gives both surfaces the chance to dry out after moisture exposure.
  • Windows – 300 series Cascadia fiberglass windows. Fiberglass has been called ‘the lumber of the future’ and ‘the ultimate window frame’ because no other window frame material matches its performance. These windows help eliminate cold spots, increase energy efficiency and are extremely durable. They are also locally manufactured.
  • Heating- Daikin Altherma Ductless Heat Pump. This multi-purpose unit provides radiant floor heating, hot water heating and air conditioning.
  • LED lighting throughout the home

Clean, healthy air

  • Low VOC paint, caulking, and adhesives.
  • All building products are free from added formaldehyde.
  • Durable, healthy hardwood, tile and marmoleum flooring.
  • Heat recovery ventilator (HRV)- Fantech HRV with 200 CFM. This unit removes stale indoor air and replaces it with pre-conditioned fresh air from outside.
Green building Bellingham project

Durable, beautiful materials

  • Wood – from the lumber used for framing and sheathing to the beams, flooring, cabinets, and decking – all of the wood in this home is FSC certified to be sustainable harvested.
  • Countertops – Green Guard certified quartz. Quartz is an extremely durable, non-porous, and low maintenance material.
  • Cabinets – Built to last by New Whatcom Interiors, a Bellingham-based cabinet shop in operation for more than 30 years.
  • Tile – Green Guard certified. Green Guard is a third-party verification, guaranteeing that the production process has a low environmental impact, and that the product is recyclable and free of toxins.
  • Decks – The concrete pavers and metal railings used for the decks are built to withstand the elements with almost no maintenance.