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Despite the challenges of building on an extremely steep, pristine site, this home manages to thoughtfully limit future resource consumption.
PROJECT TEAM
Builder
Riley & Donna Shirey
Shirey Contracting
Issaquah, WA


Architect
David Clinkston
Clinkston Architects
Seattle, WA


Interiors
Autumn Donavan
Redmond, WA


Situated on the side of a steep hill above Lake Sammamish, this steel- framed home sits on pilings, and has a HERS Index of 29. The PV array supplies about 59% of the home’s annual demand. Additional energy is captured on site by solar hot water tubes and a vertical axis wind turbine (previous page).


 


Under normal circumstances, it would be hard to imagine a home on this site, high atop a cliff , surrounded by breathtaking views. But neither this home, known as the Zero Energy Idea House, nor its architect, are of the average variety.


“It’s self-evident that this design is saying ‘I’m a different kind of house,’” says architect David Clinkston. “That was the intention—that you see the green roofs, PV panels, solar hot water panels and vertical axis windmill. These are all visible from the road. A ‘green wall’ at the main entrance (to reduce afternoon solar gain) is another clue that all is not ‘normal’ with this house.” The wall is a galvanized steel grid that will pro- vide privacy when vines grow over it.


Not every aspect of the home’s infrastructure is obvious, of course. The structural insulated panel (SIP) structure sits atop concrete grade beams that thrust back into the steep slope, and the below-grade wall at the back of the house was poured into ICFs.


The house is heated with a Warm- board radiant floor system—wood panels coated with reflective aluminum.


“That aluminum skin is thick,” Clinkston says. “with grooves that direct the heat exactly where you want it.”


Advanced Engineering
The architect took the owner’s interest in “seeing the bones” of the home seriously, specifying a steel frame as the carriage for the SIPs.


“I’m quite comfortable using steel in residential projects,” notes Clinkston, “thanks to a background designing train stations and ferry terminals.”


Although the home’s complex site engineering was more costly than most projects, it’s not an ostentatious floorplan. At just 1,630 sq. ft., it’s small for its class. And fortunately, the architect notes, the soil bearing capacity on the steeply sloping ground was quite high.


“We only had to go down eight or ten feet with the piles,” he notes. “But this site was in a critical area, so we had to be very thorough. We had a landscape architect, wildlife biologist and an arborist, and came up with a mitigation plan. We even removed all of the non-native species.”

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