For this month’s 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 Green Roof House (also known as the Common View House), a gut remodel/energy-saving upgrade project in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. The Green Roof House, completed earlier this year to much acclaim and showcased as part of the 2011 Seattle Green Home Tour, includes numerous green bells and whistles like a solar PV system, a living wall, a rainwater catchment system, and, of course, the titular green roof.


However, it's the homeowners' utmost concern over how the neighbors would react to the addition of a potentially view-obstructing second floor to their 90-year-old single-story home helps make this project pretty darn special. I also think it’s an appropriate home to feature this month given that this is the season for demonstrating peace on earth and goodwill towards man ... and towards your view- and natural light-cherishing neighbors.


Working with a growing family faced with the only option to expand their charming-but-cramped bungalow up instead of out, Jason Lear, principal of design-build firm Batt + Lear, kicked off the job by actually going up on the existing roof with the clients where they held up sticks to see how exactly a second-floor addition would impact the next door neighbor's bedroom window view. The clients were adamant that if their own need for additional living space was unbeneficial to the neighbors than the project would be a no-go. 

A bit of a challenge, yes, but the solution proved to be anything but an awkward, neighbor-enraging eyesore. Ultimately, to preserve the neighbor's view while not clashing with the vernacular architecture of the neighborhood, Lear and his team decided to construct the second floor addition to the front half of the existing home and create a large, lush green roof on the back half. This not only minimized any light/view obstructions but also gave the next door neighbors something truly beautiful to look down upon instead of a flat, asphalt roof.
And Batt + Lear didn’t just stop at the rooftops — in addition to the main SolTerra Systems-designed green roof, there's also three minor ones — in the sustainable, neighbor-pleasing landscaping department. A concrete living wall, thought to be largest residential living wall in the Northwest, was erected in the front of the home adjacent to the sidewalk while rain gardens, planter boxes, and a robust rainwater catchment system help the home achieve 100 percent rainwater infiltration. 


And then there’s the not-so-insignificant matter of energy efficiency. Thanks to new insulation, a solar water heating system, a 4.6 kW solar PV array (the panels were manufactured by Silicon Energy in Washington), and other energy-saving upgrades, the newly remodeled home is modeled to perform at a rate that’s 63 percent more efficient than the new construction energy code. What’s more, the deconstruction-happy project placed an overall emphasis on the recycling/reuse of existing building materials. Materials that were not salvaged from the existing home and reused — the cabinets in one bathroom, for example, are constructed from salvaged wood beams in the home’s basement — were sourced from local manufacturers.

Impressive stuff that's both sensitive to the environment and of the entire Wallingford community — a breakdown of the home’s eco-features are detailed in this Built Green case study. And speaking of Built Green, Batt + Lear’s Green Roof House received 5-star Built Green certification (a total score of 563 points) while beating the target for the Architecture 2030 Challenge


In addition to the aforementioned case study, more info on the Green Roof House can be found over at the Batt + Lear website along with photos aplenty at the B + L Facebook page. The Journal Media Group also published an insightful profile of the project back in September. Is there a notable green residential building project in Washington that you'd liked to see featured in an upcoming installment of "Evergreen Homes?" Tell me about it in the comments section!


Past "Evergreen homes":
• Verdant Home (Tacoma)
 The Sentinel (Seattle)

• Zhome (Isaquaah)

• EnviroHouse (Tacoma)

• 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)

• Davis Residence (Bellingham)


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

Evergreen homes: Green Roof House
When building <i>up</i> to accommodate a growing family, the owners of the Green Roof House not only added a second floor to their Seattle bungalow but neighbor