Unlike past installments of “Evergreen homes” — a series of posts in which I spotlight great green homes from my home state of Washington — this month's featured home isn't anything to gawk at in the architecture department nor is it somewhere where you'd want to live. Or even spend a night. Still, EnviroHouse, located in Tacoma (my hometown and the location of the U.S. Green Building Council's 10,000th LEED-certified residential project, Salishan 7) is worthy of "Evergreen home" status.

Situated at the entrance of the City of Tacoma Landfill (yep, you read that right), EnviroHouse is billed as the Puget Sound's one and only permanent green demo home. Open to the public for free tours five days a week (operating hours listed below), the home is chock full of more than 150 environmentally sustainable products and materials meant to inspire homeowners, builders, landscapers, realtors, and the eco-curious general public.

Why the dumpy location you ask? For one, the demo home is a joint collaboration among the City of Tacoma Solid Waste Management, Wastewater Management and Surface Water Management, Tacoma Power, Tacoma Water, and the Master Builders Association of Pierce County, so it does kind of make sense. Also, EnviroHouse is in the same complex as the city's recycling center, making for a nice little detour after dropping off your recyclables. It also doesn't hurt that there's a Home Depot down the street for post-visit LED and rain barrel shopping. 


A brief sampling of the ideas and products on display at the EnviroHouse:

• Water-efficient appliances and bath and kitchen fixtures

Solar panels

• Energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances

• Low E windows

• Soy-based insulation

• Cork and bamboo flooring and recycled content carpeting, countertops, furniture, and tile

• Zero-VOC/nontoxic paints, finishes, wall coverings, and furnishings (is that a SAYL Chair I spy in the photo above?)

• Composting

• Water-efficient lawn/garden irrigation system including rain barrels 

• Synthetic turf grass made from recycled tires and drought-resistant buffalo grass

• Recycled content decking

• Nontoxic cleaning products

Not too shabby. In addition to showcasing the above, EnviroHouse also hosts numerous free, green-minded home and garden workshops on a weekly basis. Upcoming workshops include seminars on yard waste and worm bin composting, (August 13), green roof design (August 20), and eco-friendly interior design (August 27). Who knew a trip to the dump could be so informative? 

So, T-towners, make sure to swing on by EnviroHouse to see what's new in the world of eco-friendly home building, design, and landscaping the next time that you're ... at the dump. For a sneak peek of what's in store, check out EnviroHouse brochure here (PDF). 
Tacoma Landfill
Tacoma, WA 98409
Open Wed - Fri 10 a.m to 3 p.m., Sat - Sun 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Call 253.573.2426 or email  EHouse@cityoftacoma.org for more information. 

Recent "Evergreen homes":

The Method Cabin (Glacier)
• The Boneyard House (Walla Walla) 
• Natural Balance House (Friday Harbor)
• Art Stable (Seattle)
• Hale-Edmonds Residence (Seattle) 
• Hill House (Winthrop)
• Footprint at the Bridge (Seattle)
• GreenFab prefab home (Seattle)
• Perilstein and Dorsey Residences (Bainbridge Island)
• The Ellis Residence (Bainbridge Island)
• The Pierre (San Juan Islands)
• Lake Forest Park Contemporary home (Lake Forest Park)
• Davis Residence (Bellingham)
Photos: City of Tacoma EnviroHouse

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Evergreen homes: EnviroHouse
Despite its location at the City of Tacoma Landfill, the EnviroHouse, with over 150 environmentally friendly products and materials on display, is one demo home