by Eva Otto and Eric Thomas
“We are passionate about the environment, conservation, design, and sustainable building,” says Tyler Reith as he leads us through the recently expanded showroom of Greenhome Solutions, Seattle’s locally owned green building supply store, located just south of the Ballard Bridge.
Judging by the neat racks of sustainable flooring samples, the gleaming displays of eco countertop materials, and the smiling faces of the staff that greet us, “passionate” might be an understatement.
Tyler and his siblings, Cameron and Erin, have turned their love of all things green into a thriving business that serves Seattle and beyond. The dedication and energy they’ve poured into their business comes through in many ways: the care they take in choosing their products, the support they’ve given to their community, and the praise of customers, who call the staff “incredibly friendly,” “super helpful,” and “easy to work with.”
From Dot Com to Down the Street
In an era when online competition has shuttered many local businesses, it’s refreshing to hear that Greenhome Solutions took the opposite path—starting online and then opening a showroom.
The seed of the Greenhome Solutions idea came to Tyler while he was working as a general contractor. His clients were asking for environmentally friendly products and finishes, but there was no good local source at the time.
“Many of the products my clients were looking for I had never heard of, but they were really cool products,” says Tyler. So cool, that Tyler, his brother Cameron, and sister Erin were inspired to make them available to the general public by setting up an online store.
Soon, their web-based business became popular enough to convince them that the Seattle community was ready for a bricks-and-mortar storefront as well. As the three siblings started planning, they quickly realized that Greenhome Solutions could be more than a store, serving as a resource center for their hometown Seattle community.
“A lot of what we do is education,” says Cameron Reith who spent years teaching homebuyers about green homes as a certified real estate EcoBroker. He now spends his time providing information about products and personalized service to customers.
“We don’t need to do a hard sell because the products sell themselves,” says Cameron.
A Commitment to Locally Sourced Green Products
While most building supply stores choose their products based on price, Greenhome Solutions also considers the number of miles a product must travel before being installed in a customer’s kitchen or living room. Their goal is to minimize a product’s “embodied energy,” the sum of all the energy required to manufacture and ship it. Products that are sourced closer to home require much less fuel for shipping and can be a greener choice.
“We’re extremely choosy about what makes it into our showroom,” says Cameron. “We try very hard to source only the greenest products that live up to their promises. We also go out of our way to find locally sourced building materials and products whenever we can. It provides a Seattle connection that many of our customers appreciate. At the same time, we like doing what we can to support the local economy, which has given us so much.”
Some of the company’s most popular items are produced right here in the Puget Sound region. A customer favorite is a product from Seattle-based NovuStone. The company’s countertop material is hand-crafted in the historic Ranier Brewery building from natural aggregates and recycled bottle glass, windows, and mirrors, as well as castoffs from local glassware maker Glassybaby. Customers can choose from dozens of styles, from the sophisticated look of classic stone to fun and colorful mosaic patterns.
Another way Greenhome Solutions reduces the embodied energy of its products is to offer drop shipping. By bypassing their own warehouse and sending materials directly from the manufacturer to the jobsite, prices can be kept down and a product’s carbon footprint kept to a minimum. “We can drop ship most of our products anywhere in the Continental United States at super low flat rates, or even for free,” says Tyler. “That means that we can serve a customer in Florida or Washington for the same low price and reduce the number of gas-guzzling miles the product has to travel.”
With over 20 years in the construction and green real estate industries, the Reith brothers prides themselves on not only thoroughly knowing the products they sell but having first-hand experience with installation.
“We have personally tested or installed everything that we sell,” says Tyler. “If a product doesn’t meet our strict standards, then we won’t sell it.” Homeowners and contractors alike routinely turn to the Reiths and their staff for information and support before, during, and well after the time of purchase.
“For customers who want to upgrade their home but don’t have the time or the ability to do it themselves, we offer certified installation services for everything that we sell,” Tyler adds.
Giving Back to the Community
The Reith family continues to support the community in many ways. For the fourth year, they will be sponsoring the Northwest Green Home Tour, taking place from 11am to 5pm on April 26. Presented by the nonprofits NW EcoBuilding Guild and Built Green, this free event invites the public to tour sustainably built and remodeled homes in the Seattle area. (See next month’s issue of Natural Awakenings for the official tour guide.)
Greenhome Solutions will be hosting an open house on April 26, and tour goers are encouraged to stop by to claim exclusive discounts on select products. (Customers have up to 30 days to redeem.) Visitors can also look forward to giveaways and get answers to any questions they might have about green building products they might have seen on the tour.
“Homeowners are definitely becoming more aware of the impact their material choices can make on the environment, and there’s a definite shift toward wanting to do better,” says Tyler. “That’s why it’s so important to us to help make educational events like the Green Home Tour happen, so that people have the opportunity to see why choosing sustainable materials makes so much sense from so many different perspectives . . . durability, value, protecting the planet, and protecting your own family’s health.”
For more information, visit GHSproducts.com or NWGreenhomeTour.org.
An ecologically sound wonder material, bamboo grows to maturity in under six years, making it a great choice for flooring, work surfaces, and cabinetry. Greenhome Solutions carries a full range of long-lasting bamboo products from Teragren, a world-renowned company based on Bainbridge Island. Greenhome Solutions also offers Rubio Monocoat, an extremely durable, zero-VOC oil finish that keeps bamboo and hardwoods alike looking and feeling natural.
A Sea of Cork
Cork is another rapidly renewable flooring material, which is rapidly gaining popularity. Greenhome Solutions has more than 100 varieties of cork flooring to choose from, many of which can be refinished, making them extremely durable and capable of lasting a lifetime.
Photos by Derek Price
Infiniti Real Estate & Development’s Broker Eva Otto joins the discussion on the monetary value of Walkability in Jeff Speck’s new book “Walkable City.”
This excerpt is taken from Jeff Speck’s book “Walkable City.”
“Christopher Leinberger was once the owner of Robert Charles Lesser & Co., the largest real estate advisory firm in the United States, which means that he helped to build a lot of sprawl. He is now convinced that much of suburbia is poised to become “The Next Slum.”
In order to study real estate performance, Leinberger divides the American built environment into two categories: walkable urbanism and drivable sub-urbanism.* In the Detroit region, he finds that housing in walkable urbanism fetches a 40 percent price premium over similar housing in drivable sub-urbanism; in the Seattle region, that premium is 51 percent; in Denver, it’s 150 percent. New York City, unsurprisingly, tops the list at 200 percent—that is to say, people are paying three times as much per square foot for apartments in walkable neighborhoods as for comparable suburban houses. In most markets, the demand for walkable urbanism dramatically outpaces the supply: in Atlanta, only 35 percent of poll respondents who want to live in a walkable urban place are able to find and afford it.
Looking at these numbers, Leinberger concludes: The metropolitan area that does not offer walkable urbanism is probably destined to lose economic development opportunities; the creative class will gravitate to those metro areas that offer multiple choices in living arrangements.
As consumer surveys in downtown Philadelphia and Detroit in 2006 have shown, this seems to be particularly true for the well-educated, who seem to have a predilection for living in walkable urban places.
This growing demand for pedestrian-friendly places is reflected in the runaway success of Walk Score, the website that calculates neighborhood walkability.* It was started on a lark in 2007 by Matt Lerner, Mike Mathieu, and Jesse Kocher, three partners in a software company with the incongruously automotive name of Front Seat.
“I had heard a story on NPR about food miles in England—labeling food with how far it had to travel to get to you,” Lerner told me recently, “and I thought, why not instead measure house miles: how many miles from your house you had to go for daily errands.”
Addresses are ranked in five categories, with a score of 50 needed to cross the threshold from car dependent to somewhat walkable. Seventy points earns a very walkable ranking, and anything above 90 qualifies as a walker’s paradise.
Tellingly, Walk Score has become a big hit with real estate agents. Driven by their demand, the Front Seat team has recently developed Walk Score Professional, a subscription site that already boasts links from more than ten thousand other websites, most of them belonging to realtors.
I spoke with one of these agents, Eva Otto, whose face adorns a testimonial on the Walk Score homepage. She is confident that “in a place like Seattle, walkability is the make or break for some buyers. It can add 5 to 10 percent to a person’s willingness to pay for a house.”
For each property she handles, she places the Walk Score website amenity map inside the house in an obvious place. She comments that her buyers are increasingly aware of “how surprising and delightful your quality of life can be when you don’t have to get into a car to go every place in your life besides home.”
If Walk Score is so useful in helping people decide where to live, then it can also help us determine how much they value walkability. Now that it has been around for a few years, some resourceful economists have had the opportunity to study the relationship between Walk score and real estate value, and they have put a price on it: Five hundred to Three thousand dollars PER POINT.”
Check out your personal walkscore at http://www.walkscore.com
For more information on walkability or the value real estate in Contact Eva Otto at eva@infinitiRED.com
Infiniti Real Estate and Development is excited to announce the opening of their new office in the Pike/Pine corridor of Capitol Hill. Located at 11th and Pike, Infiniti RED provides real estate services in the Seattle area with a specialization in green housing and sustainability.
Infiniti has a wide range of real estate clients and services, including commercial leasing, traditional buying and selling, land search and development for new construction and consulting for buying land overseas. What makes Infiniti RED a unique brokerage is that clients get introduced to the concepts of healthy homes, energy efficient homes, and sustainability.
For more information please call 206-235-6925 or email eva@infinitiRED.com
Method Home’s newest prefab design by Bogue Trondowshi Architects will be unveiled this November at the USGBC Greenbuild conference in San Francisco. The Paradigm prototype is the first of it’s kind, achieving the highest standards in green building and coming fully loaded with a modern package of luxury furnishings, energy-efficient technologies, and high-tech features.
In an exclusive one-time offer, the Paradigm prototype is now available for sale and looking for new home near the San Francisco area!
Method Homes has partnered with stellar group of sponsors to make the Paradigm prototype a unique residential home, work studio, retreat space or guest house. America Solar has installed a 4kW solar system, which combined with Mecho Systems’ Automated Shading System, Insulfoam’s R-28 recyclable foam insulation, Thermafiber’s R-45 ceiling batt insulation (90% recycled content) and Juno Lighting Group’s new WarmDim zero mercury LED lighting technology, this home will be able to comfortably produce all it’s own energy needs allowing it to go on or off-grid. In addition technologies requiring low inputs of energy have been installed including LG Hausys’ appliance package (dishwasher, 2 LED TV’s, dual washer/dryer, 3 door French refrigerator and HVAC system), Big Ass Fans’ ceiling fan (requiring 80% less energy than conventional fans), and Panasonic’s WhisperGreen exhaust fan and energy recovery ventilator. These technologies as well as AO Smith’s hybrid heat pump and hot water heater can in part be controlled remotely from Lutron’shome automation system closing the loop in efficiencies for this high-tech home.
In addition to being zero net energy, the Paradigm prefab also has the capability of capturing and recycling all it’s own water needs. Thanks to Water Storage Tank’s galvanized steel water retention tank this home can capture and filter up to 5000 gallons of rainwater. After using the rainwater Flotender’s greywater system has the ability to reclaim and filter greywater from the sink, shower and Infinity Drain’s curbless shower and disperse it into an aquaponic system planted with Sunnyside Organics urban agriculture plants. The Paradigm prefab reaches zero net energy with the use of Eco Dry’s urine diverting toilet for composting systems and the use of low flow water bathroom and kitchen fixtures from Hans Grohe/Axor.
Thanks to Method’s partners the Paradigm prefab is built with the greenest materials available for indoor air quality including Zero VOC paints by Sherwin Williams, FSC non-formaldehyde Bamboo cabinets from Urbanata, renewable hardwood flooring and decking from Bamboo Hardwoods, and Certainteed’s recycled content mold-resistant gypsum board. Siga provided VOC and formaldehyde-free tapes and membranes, Roseberg Lumber provided FSC and non-formaldehyde wood for construction and Resource Furniture custom installed a series of convertible non-off gassing furniture including Murphy bed, couch, adjustable desk and dining room set.
This amazing home combines form and function in unparalleled style. Thanks to Sustainable Northwest Wood for FSC wood clad siding, Western Window Systems for a wall of windows that expands the homes living space to the outdoors, Cascadia’s triple glazed windows and doors, Daltile’s eco-tile in the kitchen and bath and Squak Mountain’s custom kitchen countertops.
The Paradigm prototype qualifies for 4 of 6 petals awarded to Living Buildings – including Zero Net Energy, Zero Net Water, Indoor Air Quality and Beauty and Inspiration. The Paradigm will also be certified LEED Platinum.
For more information about purchasing the Paradigm prototype contact Eva Otto at Infiniti Real Estate 206-235-6925 or email eva@infinitiRED.com. For more information regarding sales of future Paradigm Series homes and Method Home’s real estate referral program contact Brian Abramson at 206-789.5553 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Located just steps from the Burke-Gilman trail with stunning views of Lake Washington this new construction home combines all the ingredients of a green home with modern luxury, durability and convenience.
Building scientist and homebuilder of 22 years Bob Lodwig has always been committed to building energy-efficient homes. This spring he’s taking his experience to a new level of superior quality in Laurelhurst by adding a combination of solar power, super insulation, electric radiant heat, LED lighting, and a closed circuit system that allows power to be shut down when not being used. He is also wiring the house for a home automation system that allows you to monitor and control the home’s energy use from anywhere in the world.
Lodwig is not stopping with energy efficiency. He is building a modern green home for the future that will include a 1300 gallon storage tank for rainwater harvesting, an organic garden, and an in-house living wall built to improve indoor air quality and embellish the living environment in the home. He is also recycling 95% of all his construction debris in an effort to reduce landfill waste.
Lodwig is a strong advocate for building homes for the future. He is pioneering a Historical Home Information Record, which will detail the specifications for the mechanical, electrical and green features of the home. He hopes that one day all homes record such information with the city as a historical record for future generations.
Designed and built by Lodwig, this home offers a thoughtful floor plan perfect for any number of homebuyers.
For more information about real estate in Laurelhurst or Seattle please contact Eva@infinitiRED.comor call 206-235-6925.
What better way to celebrate Earth Day weekend then to get an up close and personal look at what people are doing to green up their homes around the Puget Sound?! The 2012 Seattle Green Home Tour, hosted by the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild, takes place April 21st – 22nd from 10am – 4pm daily, and is free and open to the public.
The tour itself features an open house style, self-guided excursion of local, green homes, remodels, and energy retrofits in the Seattle area and Eastside. There are 20+ amazing projects and homes on the tour, with guides and project professionals on hand to answer all your questions! Visit Seattle Green Home Tour to see all the sites, which are divided into clusters and mapped out for your convenience.
Join Us in Celebrating the Grand Opening of Clearwater Commons!
This deep green cohousing project on Bothell’s North Creek is one of the sites on this year’s Green Home Tour, but is also celebrating the completion of the first phase of new homes. Touring this site will provide you with a glimpse of a wide range of eco-building techniques, including low impact development, 4 new green homes with pin pile foundations built by Cascade Built, the Mini-B Passive House, comprehensive stream restoration, and the use of solar energy. Tour the site 10am – 4pm throughout the weekend or stop by during our scheduled Open House on Sunday 1-4pm. 1402 194th St SE, Bothell, WA 98012 – Map
Additionally, this year’s Green Home Tour includes a Saturday EcoExpo at GreenDepot in South Seattle which will feature green suppliers, sustainable products, and contractors, with food, fun, and entertainment.
Sunday will feature energy-focused workshops at Green Home Solutions in North Queen Anne with demonstrations of blower door testing, duct-blasting, air-sealing, combustion safety, and more.
All events are kid-friendly and great for the whole family. Programs and tour maps are available online at SeattleGreenHomeTour.org, and are also printed in Seattle Natural Awakenings magazine, April edition (see back cover).
We hope to see you out & about this weekend!