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NEEA and Northwest builders test the market with new homes pilot (Seattle)

SEATTLE – Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), in collaboration with Seattle City Light and local builders like Dwell Development, are piloting a new residential homes program to lay the foundation to increase the energy efficiency and comfort of new homes across the region.

The voluntary pilot takes energy-efficient homebuilding to a new level with strategies including tighter home envelopes that incorporate advanced framing techniques, increased insulation and more efficient windows. The pilot homes also incorporate advanced HVAC systems that use technologies such as ductless heat pumps and heat recovery ventilators. The end results are homes that offer consumers more comfort, better air quality, and lower monthly energy costs.

A select group of regional homebuilders, including Seattle-based Dwell Development, have volunteered to build homes that meet the pilot’s specification using various energy-efficient building practices and technologies. Builders participating in the pilot learn how to incorporate advanced building products and practices in a cost-effective manner while staying ahead of state energy code requirements.

“We’re dedicated to creating ecologically sound, positive additions to Seattle’s urban communities,” said Anthony Maschmedt, principal, Dwell Development. “By participating in NEEA’s home building pilot, we can continue to offer higher performing homes while helping raise the bar for energy efficient homes in Seattle.”

Energy-efficient building strategies and materials in Dwell’s homes include triple pane insulated windows, efficient heat recovery ventilator, tankless water heater, radiant heat, and ductless heat pump (DHP). .

“Our success in the multifamily sector with the Built Smart program illustrates that homebuilders can successfully build energy efficiency into their projects to save energy and increase profit,” said Glenn Atwood, Conservation Resources Director at Seattle City Light. “The Next Step pilot will also drive advanced building practices for single family homebuilders, enable our builder-customers to stay competitive, and increase the acceleration of more stringent building energy codes for the Northwest.”

Results from the Next Step Home Pilot will guide NEEA and its utility partners in evaluating the energy savings impact of these homes. Information from the pilot will also help the region’s homebuilding industry better understand the most cost-effective methods to achieve higher energy performance. This will lead to better performing homes constructed with higher standards for the region’s homebuyers.

The Next Step Home Pilot builds on the success of the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes program, a regional collaboration between NEEA and utilities to promote the construction of energy-efficient homes. Houses built through the Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes program over the past eight years are at least 15 percent more efficient than new homes built to code.

“By building homes under this pilot, Northwest homebuilders will help the region understand what methods work best for achieving cost-effective energy savings that accelerate the next phase of energy efficiency in new homes,” said Neil Grigsby, who manages NEEA’s homes initiative. “We estimate that homes built for the pilot have the potential to be at least 30 percent more efficient than those built to state energy code requirements.”

Once the homebuilding market is in a position to embrace more stringent codes, NEEA advocates for an even higher level of stringency in future codes throughout state and federal code adoption processes while providing education and training throughout the region to increase compliance.

“Utilities, energy efficiency organizations and NEEA’s work toward stronger codes in the region will transform the market with a 40 percent energy savings between now and 2030 as a result of increased codes and standards,” said Grigsby.

Utilities and energy efficiency organizations participating in the pilot include Energy Trust of Oregon, Bonneville Power Administration, Seattle City Light, Clark Public Utilities, NorthWestern Energy, and more than 100 regional utilities.

Dwell’s pilot project, Passivehaus at Columbia Station, is one of the featured homes in the upcoming 2013 Northwest Green Home Tour on April 27th.

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About the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is a non-profit organization working to accelerate energy efficiency to meet our future energy needs. NEEA is supported by and works in collaboration with the Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon and more than 100 Northwest utilities on behalf of more than 12 million energy consumers. NEEA uses the market power of the region to accelerate the innovation and adoption of energy-efficient products, services and practices. Since 1997, NEEA and its partners have saved enough energy to power more than 600,000 homes each year. Energy efficiency can satisfy more than half of our new demand for energy, saving money and keeping the Northwest a healthy and vibrant place to live. www.neea.org

About Seattle City Light

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

About Dwell Development

Dedicated to creating ecologically sound, positive additions to Seattle’s urban communities, Dwell Development design+build is a dynamic, boutique, full service firm. Dwell works to generate market appeal for green contemporary homes and improve on efficiency, sustainability, and community enhancement. To learn more, visit:www.dwelldevelopment.net