Updated with contractor and designer information: A new kind of house is being built in Ballard – a house that produces more energy than it uses. We’re told that this zero-energy house is the first of its kind in Seattle.
After looking around Ballard for a house to purchase, but were not excited by anything they saw, Eric Thomas and Alexandra Salmon came across a vacant lot. “We were driving back from an open house, and we saw this big pile of dirt with a hand-made for-sale sign on it,” Salmon says. “We called the number thinking it was probably the dirt that was for sale, not the land.” But they were pleasantly surprised. “Mount Ballard,” as the neighbors called it, was sitting on an empty lot that the couple decided to buy.
Last Saturday they broke ground on their new zero-energy house at 612 NW 60th St. The home is designed by Zero-Energy Plans, LLC and being constructed by TC Legend Homes. The house will have a well-insulated and airtight shell made of structural insulated panels that will be assembled on-site. There will be a rooftop solar panel that will produce nearly 6,000 watts, enough to power the home’s electrical needs. Water will be heated by an electrical heat pump that is also powered by the solar panels. No oil or natural gas will be used.
The cost to build the home is similar to purchasing an existing home in the neighborhood and because they won’t have any power bills, they’ll be saving hundreds of dollars each month. On top of that, Washington State has an incentive program that will pay them nearly $1,000 each year for the next nine years. They’ll also receive a 30-percent federal tax credit on certain portions of the energy-efficient amenities.
“We’re hoping to spread the word to people in Seattle and elsewhere who care about saving energy and saving money that this sort of house is not out of reach,” Thomas says. “Green building is often seen as a luxury, but we’re trying to prove that it doesn’t have to be. We want to encourage as many people as we can to demand more when it comes to energy efficiency. If we can do this with a little creativity and very limited funds, just about anyone can do it.”
(Photos courtesy Eric Thomas)