The 10x10x10 is an event put on by the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild annually to highlight regional sustainably oriented projects each year.  The name derives from the fact that they showcase 10 projects, and give each presenter 10 minutes to talk about 10 slides.  This year CAST was selected to be one of the presenters for our work on in-fremont, a series of 5 town homes designed for 5 star BuiltGreen certification. The event was held at the Gates auditorium, at the Seattle Public Library last Friday. There were some great projects discussed - I especially enjoyed Christina Bollo's talk from SMR on Kenyon House a LEED platinum affordable housing project.  Since I have all the material handy I thought I would post the slides from my talk, as well as a quick transcript, which steps through some of the concepts, and techniques we were working on with the in-fremont project.


SLIDE 1 - Intro:

  • In-fremont is a set of 5 town homes finished in the spring this year – which was not exactly great timing!
  • But we had a client who was excited to explore what we could do in terms of a high quality sustainably minded project
  • In 2007 we received a Built Green grant in their multifamily category, which was a great help in trying to push a project like this forward.


SLIDE 2 - Quick orientation:

  • Location: just north of 36th in Fremont on phinney – extremely pedestrian oriented location.
  • 5 units counterclockwise. Goal was to Break out of the typical 4 pack plan you see all over.
  • This is a bit of an atypical site having a 10’ wide x 40’ deep slice of commercial zoned C1-40 in an otherwise typical L-2 lot.
  • Since we could not span across the zoning line with this unit, it provided a unique constraint as well as a great tie in to the 10x10x10 …
  • So in addition to the 10 presenters and 10 slides and 10 minutes, i‘m going to add 10 feet.  That is the outside to outside dimension of unit 5 and good segway for talking about sustainability and scale.


SLIDE 3 - unit 5:

  • Unit 5 ended up being a 950 sqft 2br 2 bath
  • Quantity is intrinsically linked to sustainability - you can do as much advanced framing, and responsible specifications as possible, in the end the way to leverage all that is to reduce size – that cuts across all the materials and finishes.
  • Key to selling people on smaller is making sure they are extremely desirable, and functional spaces
  • Staggered section helps break down the length of the building.
  • Central light well 3’ setback brings natural light to the core of the building.
  • This was envisioned as a live work scenario – having an office with sidewalk access for clients.

SLIDE 4 - unit 5 pictures:

  • To put it into context this is 400 sqft lot – that is an order of magnitude smaller than the typical Seattle single family lot – this means fewer materials, higher density, smaller footprint & lower impact.
  • Despite the size this is a very dynamic space - It wont be sustainable if no one wants to live in it.
  • The stairs act as a transparent screen which reveal adjacent spaces and light, while breaking down the overall length and volume.
  • Dramatic 12’ high living room and glass walls, gives the space sense of volume, variety  and levity which would have been lacking without the split level.


SLIDE 5 - power plant:

  • We ended up settling on a gas boiler to drive the radiant floors and domestic hot water.
  • This single piece of equipment runs both systems with instant on heat and no standby losses and a 93% efficiency rating.
  • All the units are plumbed in for solar hot water, which would preheat the domestic hot water loop for the boiler.
  • In terms of panel placement, we realized that we had two sites with better solar access, and so we created a solar easement as part of the unit lot subdivision to allow all the units to place and maintain the panels relative to solar access rather than property lines.
  • According to the city this was the first time in Seattle this was done for solar access in a short plat.

SLIDE 6 – details:

  • On the exterior we used a rain screen throughout - simply holding the siding off the building with a vented air space, allows for the walls to dry out, reducing the chances of rot and mold, and allows the finishes to last substantially longer.
  • Bamboo & concrete radiant floors aid in air quality - no carpet or ducting for mold or dust to gather.
  • Site built casework such as screen frames and treads made of bamboo plywood.
  • Trim all finger joined poplar - no mdf.
  • Low voc paint – waterborne clear coats – compact florescent energy star lights throughout.

SLIDE 7 – air sealing:

  • Since most heat loss in a reasonably insulated home occurs thru infiltration rather than radiant loss, a composite system of spray foam & fiberglass batts was used to create the air seal.
  • This creates an R-24 wall and allows the air barrier to be achieved more easily in a production environment – only one trade is then responsible for the bulk of the work.
  • With the decreased infiltration, comes the need for increased ventilation.
  • Heat recovery ventilators brings in fresh air while recovering aprox 80% of the embodied energy, which keeps a tight home healthy and energy efficient.
  • Garage included an exhaust fan equipped with a motion sensor.
  • Also tied into an ev charging station so the fan can be activated when charging to take care of any off gassing.

SLIDE 8 - garage as flex space:

  • While parking is required by code, cars are basically what ruins the ground level of most town homes.
  • Given the pedestrian oriented location of the site we wanted to plan for the possibility that they might be used as a studio, shop or bedroom
  • Natural light / aluminum doors with sidelights, help make drive court a more human space, matching the detailing of the rest of the windows on site.
  • The garage is fully insulated both from the outside and the rest of the house so they could be used as garage or habitable space.

SLIDE 9 – framing:

  • Floor to ceiling glass - No headers or cripples - typical rim joist was adequate for all but a handful of openings.
  • 24”oc studs on 75% of walls to reduce thermal bridging.
  • Insulation heal on truss, allowed for r-50 in the roof all the way out to the edge of the building, and maintain clearance for eave vents.
SLIDE 10 – wrap-up:

  • In some of these images you can really get a sense of the affect of the floor to ceiling glass on the quantity of natural light and the way it washes the ceiling & floor.
  • This project was really rewarding working on compact plans and trying to wring the most out of the smallest amount.
  • Quality over quantity ended up to be one of the main ways that we were able maximize the affect of specking responsible materials and systems.