Seattle’s Sustainable Lakeside Remodel

With the help of the Master Builders Association of Washington (MBA), Seattle home builder Sockeye Homes received a 5-Star Built Green Certification.
By Evan Lancaster
Photography by Todd Sakai

Sustainable building practices have become a staple in home building today. Now, builders are utilizing the techniques used to reach maximum energy efficiency for new homes, in whole-house remodels and deep energy retrofits without sacrificing style or location.

Washington home builder, Sockeye Homes, was given the opportunity to recreate an outdated 1950’s design, into a three-story, 3,276 square foot, five-bedroom, six-bathroom, 5-Star Built Green certified, lakesidemasterpiecemaking it an easy choice for the 2011 Pubby Award for “Green Remodel of the Year.”

As medical professionals, the homeowners took to the idea of having a healthy home that represented ecological values while lending itself to the contemporary craftsman design. According to Kristin Sakai, vice president of Sockeye Homes, several characteristics of the original 1,500 square foot, one-story, threebedroom, one-bathroom, floor plan caused complications in the day-to-day lifestyle for the homeowners. “The 1950s home had an inefficient layout providing challenges when entertaining guests. The existing kitchen, dining room and living rooms were small, compartmentalized spaces and failed to take advantage of the home’s lake view,” she explained.

dec2011-38In order to improve the living environment of the 61-year-old home, its outdated interior finishes and hazardous material containing lead, asbestos and other harmful chemicals needed to be removed. Together, the homeowners and building team decided a deconstruction of the original floor plan was required to improve indoor air-quality, increase energy efficiency and take advantage of the beautiful lake views.

Seattle’s residential Built Green Program is similar to the USGBC’s LEED for Homes Certification program and requires precision in regards to site location, indoor air and water quality, as well as choosing building materials.Sakai explained in addition to the similarities between these programs, Built Green is the largest certification program in the country and can also be economically sensible, further promoting the concept of sustainable building becoming more accessible.

“[Built Green] has a reputation for being more flexible, not requiring as much paperwork and is less expensive to certify,” Sakai said. This project also caught the attention of the Master Builder Association (MBA) of Washington State and received the 2011 “Remodeling Excellence of the Year” award. Sakai added that Seattle is a national leader in regards to green building, certifying over 14,000 homes in the past decade. “In the past year, almost 30 percent of the new homes in Seattle’s King County were certified to either, Built Green, ENERGY STAR Homes, or LEED for Homes,” she said.

By using this home as a case study for the MBA, Sockeye Homes modeled this project to perform 30 percent above the Washington State Energy Code. Sakai said an advantage came from using the existing foundation, and other aspects of the original home to minimize the environmental impact during deconstruction and remodel. Additionally, by participating in CDL Recycle, Seattle’s premier receiver and processor of construction, demolition and land clearing debris program, the project also received a better than 90 percent recycling rate for construction waste.

The quality of the living environment, and minimal impact to the environment was most important to the homeowners. During remodel special attention was given to advanced framing techniques, drought tolerant landscaping, along with site and water protection. With the assistance from an ENERGY STAR rated heat recovery system with a HEPA air filter, ENERGY STAR certified insulation, tankless hot water heater with recirculation pump, low-flow faucets and dual flush toilets, Sockeye was able to achieve a HERS score of 69. Sakai explained that Sockeye Homes did not stumble upon a 5-star Built Green rating by mistake, but it was the product of advanced planning, several meetings with their clients and their Built Green certifier, in order to coordinate and organize this project, so everyone was on the same page.

“This is the key to achieving green goals: make sure everyone agrees on what needs to be done and is committed to making sure it happens,” mentioned Sakai. “Sockeye Homes is a good example of how building green really means building smart.”

Evan Lancatser is an assistant editor at Residential Contractor. He may be contacted at

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