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Karl Pauly's 5-Star Issaquah Home

A new home custom built by the owners in downtown Issaquah blazes the trail for advanced performance and Built Green® 5-Star certification under the City of Issaquah's expedited permit incentive program. The home was designed and built to give the owners decades of great comfort and ridiculously low energy costs.

Vital Stats



Location: Downtown Issaquah
Star Level: 5-Star
Checklist: Single-Family/Townhome
Verifier: Balderston Associates
Site and Water 182
Energy Efficiency 215
Indoor Air Quality 135
Material Efficiency 93
  Total Score 735.5

Built Green Highlights

Site and Water

The site is on an odd-shaped lot next to a park and within a block of Issaquah's historic main street, with excellent access to transit and community resources.

The site is provided with infiltration swales for the roof water drainage that are integrated with native and drought tolerant landscaping. Hardscapes are 100% pervious.

Indoor water use is reduced by the use of low flow sink and shower fixtures and WaterSense-labelled toilets.

Karl Pauly's Issaquah Built Green 5-Star home exterior

Energy Efficiency

This super-insulated home is constructed with Structural Insulated Panels. SIPs are a prefabricated sandwich of plywood and foam that eliminate most of the wood framing, and with it the thermal bridges that reduce insulation value in standard construction. The builder did such careful air sealing that the home is the tightest the third-party verifier has tested in 14 years of practice! At the same time, abundant fresh air is provided by the Zehnder HRV system that was carefully installed and commissioned.

  • Roof insulation is approximately R49, with R30 in the walls. Slab on grade foundation is double-insulated
  • Windows are Eagle triple pane, with .16 to .21 U-value
  • Super tight air sealing, scoring at .19 ACH 50
  • Efficient Zehnder HRV system for ventilation  
  • Gas-fired hot water radiant heating and domestic hot water, 96% efficient
  • ENERGY STAR appliances, 100% LED lighting, ready for solar PV

Health and Indoor Air Quality

The home emphasizes simple interior finishes with low toxicity and excellent distributed ventilation for fresh air. There are no carpets and flooring is NAUF bamboo from Higuera Hardwoods. Natural cedar ceilings and other highlights are finished with Safecoat Polyureseal and all of the paints are <1 g/L VOC. The kitchen and bathrooms contain custom cabinets by Superior Manufacturing, made with special order glues and finishes.

Whole house ventilation is supplied by the central Zehnder comfo-air HRV. This system uses innovative 3" plastic flex ducts to provide a supply of fresh air and exhaust for every room. It operates continuously and quietly with very low energy use. This is an important companion to the incredibly air tight building envelope to ensure comfort and performance.

The exterior siding is installed over a "rain screen" air space. The building moisture barrier is a Prosoco liquid applied coating, along with interior tapes from SIGA on the SIPs panel joints. Detailing of weather seals at windows, doors, and other penetrations was carefully done by the owner/builder to ensure moisture will not enter the home.

Karl Pauly's Issaquah Built Green 5-Star SIPs under construction

Materials Efficiency

The home's structure itself reduces the use of lumber and heavy materials with the SIP panels. In addition, recycled content metal roofing creates very long-lasting protection. The exterior is a mix of Swisspearl panels that were recovered from a commercial job site, composite timbers, and natural cedar siding for an appealing Northwest contemporary look. Swisspearl siding panels participate in the EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) system.

Interior finishes demonstrate a high level of commitment to non-toxic and environmentally friendly products. The builder took a lot of care to research and specify products. FSC-certified bamboo flooring or tile covers the floors. Interior caulks, adhesives, and finishes were checked for compliance with Built Green's VOC standards. All interior painted trim is MDF Spero from Metrie, which is recycled sawdust with no added urea formaldehyde.

The owner/builder personally controlled recycling of jobsite waste, to the extent that even concrete chips from stripping forms were put in separate recycle bins. Hand demolition of the previous house on the site included recycling metal, cabinets, trim, appliances, fixtures, and structural parts. 

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