A new home in Seattle is described as having a cutting-edge combination of green technology, renewables and reclaimed materials. It is designed by Dwell Development to be Built Green Emerald Star certified. If the certification is awarded, it will be be the first home of its kind in the city.

The Built Green residential building program was developed with a view to providing environmental standards for use of materials, energy efficiency, water use and indoor air quality. Built Green ratings range from 3-Star through 4-Star and 5-Star up to Emerald Star.

Emerald Star certified homes must achieve net zero energy usage by way of generating electricity from a renewable source such as solar or wind, use 70 percent less water than a conventional home and ensure that 90 percent of wood used is reclaimed or FSC-certified. They must also demonstrate impeccable air quality.

The certification for Dwell's 2,218-sq ft (206-sq m) home is still pending, but the firm, which previously designed the Reclaimed Modern home in Columbia City, says it expects it to receive the highest rating. The firm says it is the only residential developer in Washington that exclusively builds 5-star or above Built Green homes and that the Emerald Star project will be its 100th certified home.

To begin, the roof and window placement of the house is configured to maximize solar gain without sacrificing looks. Electricity is generated by a 6.6 kW photovoltaic array on the roof, and the building's pending HERS Score of 0 or lower will confirm its zero energy status if awarded.

Inside, a heat recovery ventilation system is employed to expel stale air from the house and to draw fresh, clean air in. The system also helps to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the building. An efficient hot water heat pump, meanwhile, uses 1 kW of energy to generate 4.5 kW of heat, which Dwell says is 78 percent less energy usage compared to traditional hot water systems.

The building's insulation and its wood-framed windows and doors are designed to create an airtight seal to minimize thermal and sound leaks. Indeed, it scored a blower doors test result of 1.17 ACH 50, well within the 2.4 ACH 50 score required for Emerald Star certification.

The timber used for the building's framing package is FSC-certified and its exterior paneling is reclaimed Douglas Fir. Naturally-weathered steel from a cannery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is used for the building's roof panelling and acts as a rainscreen. Countertops, cabinets and tile, meanwhile, are made locally from recycled materials.

Dwell's Emerald Star home project was completed only recently. The video below provides a tour of the house.

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