Originally there was “no place for the computer,” homeowner Chris Voss says, but this space transformed elegantly into a dual-purpose niche that serves as an office and a butler’s pantry, with a mini-fridge and a sliding barn door. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)
PLANET EARTH is twirling with gratitude this eco-weekend over one especially encouraging development in Kirkland — and just wait till summertime, when Big Ol’ Mr. Sun ramps up his powerful rays.
The new Lakeview Solar Community — four super-sustainable luxury homes, all prewired for panels, and all by Dwell Development and Medici Architects — is Kirkland’s first 5-Star Built Green net-zero-ready residential community.
That’s a lot of adjectives, all right, but there is a lot of Earth-friendly habitation going on here — especially in Chris and Deborah Voss’ super-green (and super-beautiful) three-level duplex.
The Vosses (Microsoft executive Chris, fitness instructor Deborah, 15-year-old daughter Tallie, 11-year-old son Brennan, and Ragdoll kitty brothers Moto and Dozer) were Lakeview’s first residents, and the first to install their rooftop solar panels — 9kW worth.
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Those powered up in September, and the family’s energy costs started going down lickety-split, even in our sunshine-challenged fall.
“We kept the house at about 67 degrees, and our gas bill was less in November than October, which was lower than September,” Chris says. “We should be able to run our house and an electric car [although they don’t have one yet]. Solar is a big deal for us.”
Actually, all kinds of green colored the decision to move here.
The Vosses had lived in “a typical Seattle Craftsman” right above Magnuson Park, Chris says; across Lake Washington, they literally watched Lakeview take shape. Deborah found the house plans online, and after zeroing in on this duplex’s top-floor bedrooms, they launched into full-interest mode.
“When we found out about Dwell and responsibly built homes, it was very attractive,” Chris says. “We looked at other, similar homes, but they weren’t efficient and didn’t have green features. More and more, it became a deal-breaker: If you had the choice, why wouldn’t you choose the sustainable one?”
Excellent point — and choice.
“This is the only family-friendly floor plan (in Lakeview),” says Anthony Maschmedt of Dwell. “This one has the view and the upstairs master suite. It’s the biggest house I’ve ever built.”
At 4,500 square feet, there is room for stunning space after stunning space (but no wasted space) — the wide-open great room, with 10-foot ceilings, light-luring clerestories and sustainably harvested and milled black walnut floors; the master suite’s telescope-perfect sitting area; the bright and colorful walkout-basement entertainment/hangout hub — and inspiring sustainability everywhere, even where you can’t see it.
Clean air and year-round comfort are huge drivers here: All-wall insulation; integrated state-of-the-art heat-recovery ventilation (HRV, for continuous fresh air); high-efficiency ductless mini-split heating and cooling systems; and draft-free, high-performance triple-glazed windows and doors already are paying off in all sorts of ways. Chris says that even as fall cooled, the radiant heat didn’t turn on until December. Deborah says they don’t hear their busy road at all (and the kids are sleeping better!), and she credits the HRV for the quick cure of Dozer the cat’s chronic ear/eye infection, and the absence of her visiting sister’s kitty-allergy symptoms.
As for financial comfort, Dwell expects each home to realize 50 to 70 percent energy savings compared to the average home. Here’s how, in part:
• Pervious pavement, native landscaping and high-efficiency plumbing fixtures (such as .8-gallon low-flow toilets) should save each home about 35,000 gallons of water a year.
• Local wood and flooring, plus corrugated metal, plus recycled building materials equals less energy toward new-material production.
• Together, the four Lakeview homes are expected to create about 36,000 kWh of energy a year (about $1,100 in savings for the Vosses, and each of their neighbors).
The community — and it has become a true community — has two detached single-family homes and two attached duplex homes. (“We’ve made our own little neighborhood,” Deborah says. “It’s multinational: Brazil, Canada; we’re Midwestern. Everyone’s super-lovely.”) Each has a unique layout and form, says Schuyler Tutt of Medici, but they all share a cohesiveness of materials and theme.
And, they all have a rooftop deck, along with rooftop solar capabilities. The Vosses’ deck is the highest, with recycled bamboo ZomeTek decking, a big gas firepit and a glorious view of a hopeful planet’s scenic highlight reel.
“We keep coming up here at sunset,” Chris says. “We say, ‘Do you think we’ll get sick of this?’ No.”