We’ve been living at the Commons for almost a year and I’ve been curious how energy efficient our house really is. We spent extra money for a ductless mini-split heat pump, double paned Anderson-100 windows, a heat recovery ventilator, (all pictured here) blown in fiberglass insulation, energy star lighting and appliances, and I’m getting curious how much our energy bills are reduced by these measures. Of course I can’t answer that question because this is a new house, but I can compare how much we are paying now versus how much we were paying at the same time last year in our old, leaky, drafty Seattle house.
Since we don’t have a gas line anymore, all of our energy comes in as electricity. Heat, hot water, cooking, lights. So it’s hard to single out heating costs. But assuming the largest utility cost comes from heat and that we are lighting and using hot water in the same way, it’s probably fairly accurate to compare total energy cost of the old house with total energy cost of the new house. So what
I’ve done is gone back and compared our utility bills from roughly June 1, 2012 (when we moved in) to the present, with the equivalent bills from the same time the previous year.
After many hours of rain, North Creek was overflowing its banks again, although it was not as high as it was a few weeks ago. Bob and I walked down to the creek edge this morning to see it. The power of that much water always feels exciting, and it’s fun to see how the bigger volume of flowing water has changed and shifted the contours of the banks and stream bed, not to mention loose objects beside the creek like the logs of the fire pit.
A cute little American Dipper was bobbing up and down at the flooded edge of the creek. It is such a soft gray and blends so well into the background of gray water that I didn’t see it until I had gotten fairly close to it. I stayed still and with no alarm, it continued to bob and poke into the shallow water for aquatic insects, their larvae, and maybe even tiny fish.
We recently heard that salmon were spotted in North Creek downstream from the Commons in Bothell. The water levels were a bit low and we were concerned that the fish would have a hard time swimming up to our neck of the woods. This last week, we finally saw some good rain and the stream levels rose.
Early in the week, Eric sent out word that he spotted one on the property. The next day, Tom reported seeing five in the quieter part of the stream on the west end of our part. Saturday, Shawna took me down during her regular Salmon watching time. (She is a volunteer “Salmon Watcher” for a multi-juristictional partnership of local cities and King County). Armed with a camera and some very silly cardboard salmon watching glasses — they are polarized and actually help cut glare on the water — we went down to the west end of the stream.
It was not long at all and we were rewarded by spotting 3 Coho salmon. I turned on the camera and even put one of the polarizing lens from my glasses in front of the camera lens. Take a look at the video below:
It is exciting to see them after all the restoration work that was done last year. The creek is now well suited for Salmon spawning. It is hopeful to see so many this year.
The author was one of the principal architects of the Growth Management Act (GMA) in 1990 and a member of the Governor’s Land Use Study Commission. He is a consultant on public engagement strategies, a judge for the Governor’s Smart Communities awards, the chair of the Charlotte Martin Foundation, and a member of Clearwater Commons.
This is the story of a growth management policy wonk turned developer. It is a high anxiety story of a successful effort to build one of the most comprehensive green low impact developments (LID) in the Puget Sound area – through some of the laws I helped to create. This arduous five year journey was made even more difficult by a housing recession; a complex web of new and complicated regulations; and, a reeling banking industry.