Clearwater Commons Going ‘Built Green’

by Tom Campbell (unit 16/farmhouse)

Although the Clearwater Commons has always exceeded in its green building and site standards, for our next units we are going Built Green. What does this mean?


Phase 1 construction at Clearwater Commons

Built Green homes are designed to provide homeowners with comfortable, durable, environmentally friendly homes that are cost-effective to own and operate. These resource-efficient houses are crafted to exceed building codes and provide homeowners with years of healthy, quality living, while protecting our families and the precious Northwest environment. At Clearwater Commons, Built Green is a way to document our green building techniques and commitment.

The next unit to be built, #13, will follow the Built Green certification process. A local certifier who will document that we meet or exceed standards for every element of the building; all certifications will be verified by a third party. A major challenge is how to achieve a 5-star Built Green level while keeping costs low. We have spent considerable time this spring value engineering the specifications and using energy modeling software to develop trade-offs for how to go high level green inexpensively.

For example, each of our current units have a heat recovery ventilator.  At this time we are looking to use other insulation and heating methods to exceed current energy code by 30%.  Adding a hybrid hot water system, ductless mini-split energy method, plus a good insulation and sealing package will provide the energy efficiency at a greater savings.

Pins ready to drive into foundation blocks

Pins ready to drive into foundation blocks at Unit #5


Pin foundations ready for framing


Framing on finished pin foundations

A prospective owner at the Commons can steps in anytime during the construction process to add green components such as solar, heat recovery ventilators and other efficient appliances–go as green as you want. There are many new innovations in building science and our hope is to add ideas and experiments at the Commons. We’ve already demonstrated significant green benefits through our low impact development techniques. As a model low impact project, all of our stormwater is infiltrated, rain gardens support run-off, and paths and parking are pervious. Living along an endangered salmon run has also provided a laboratory for how building and stream restoration can go hand in hand.

We plan to partner with Built Green and other partners in Snohomish County to hold “behind the walls” tours at key stages of the building process. For now, we welcome prospective buyers to come visit us during the Green Home Tour (Sat. April 25, 11am-5pm) and get a close look at the unique property and buildings at the Clearwater Commons.


Unit #8 during construction