For 2012’s inaugural installment of “Evergreen homes” — a monthly series of posts in which I break out the geographical bias and spotlight green residential building projects from my home state of Washington — I’m featuring the Thomas Eco-House
, a doozy of a home located north of Seattle on a woodsy, 11-acre lot in the Snohomish County town of Stanwood
The sleek, modern Thomas Eco-House, designed by Dan Nelson along with Matt Radach of Designs Northwest Architects
(the latter recently was honored with a Young Architects Award from the Northwest Washington chapter
of the American Institute of Architects
for his role in the project), qualifies for doozy status not just because, as you can probably see in the below photos, there’s a fire pole connecting the main living area and the upstairs sleeping areas.
Perhaps the most notable feature of this 2009 project (first noticed over at Contemporist
) is its insulated concrete form (ICF) construction, an energy-efficient framing method also employed by the team behind a past “Evergreen home,” Tacoma's Verdant Home
. In the case of the Thomas Eco-House, these energy-efficient, airtight walls result in a 44 percent reduction of required heating energy and a 33 percent reduction of required cooling energy compared to wood frame houses of a similar size.
The sustainable features of the Thomas Eco-House don’t just stop at the concrete walls and floors. The inhabitants of this four-story family home enjoy additional energy savings thanks to a geothermal heat pump that’s tied into a high-efficiency hydronic heating system that uses 30 percent less energy than equivalent forced-air systems.
Additionally, the home was designed to take full advantage of passive solar gain. A massive bank of windows on the southern exposure allow ample sunlight — somewhat of a rarity eight months of the year in this part of the world — to flood the interior and heat the home (there are mechanized solar shades to mitigate excess solar gain on days when the sunlight is too much). The polished concrete floors collect heat gain during the day and distribute it through the evening while the home’s main stairway features an observation space with operable glass walls and windows at the very top — dubbed “The Bubble” — that acts as a solar chimney, naturally ventilating the home by drawing warm air up and out of the home.
Other sustainable features of the Thomas Eco-House include a rainwater collection system for irrigation purposes, native landscaping, and the capability to hook up to renewable energy systems such as rooftop solar photovoltaics or a personal wind turbine.
And like many past “Evergreen homes,” the Thomas Eco-House is all about the killer views. Perched on the crest of a hill, the home boasts views of Mt. Rainer and Everett to the south along with the densely forested surrounding Cascade foothills. The roof deck, the “Bubble” observation space, and the open-planned main floor (living area/dining area/kitchen) with its floor-to-ceiling windows are all primo places to soak in these dramatic Pacific Northwest views.
Passive solar design, thermal massing, ICF construction, geothermal heating, lovely views, and a fire pole ... I don't think you could ask much more of a true "Evergreen home."
Is there a notable green residential building project in Washington that you'd liked to see featured in an upcoming installment of "Evergreen Homes?"