Lopez Community Land Trust has been a leader in creating affordable net zero housing since 2009, when their award-winning Common Ground community was built. These three Salish Way Cooperative cottages are next door to the original 11 homes and the land trust office.
They are 480 square foot cozy living spaces with a loft bedroom above, designed by Vandervort Architects. The build included work for two student interns, many volunteers, and the homeowner-to-be, and hit a soaring 871 points with 5-Star Net Zero certification.
|Location: Lopez Island
Star Level: 5-Star, NZE
Verifier: Balderston Associates
|Site and Water
|Health and Indoor Air Quality
Built Green Highlights
Site and Water
These homes show a strong emphasis on craftsmanship and local, natural materials. The locally milled cedar ship lap siding and the classic, simple shapes are the first things you notice. The gently sloping site is fully stabilized with straw and chips and will be landscaped with natives and owner-built gardens. There is little or no concrete paving. 15,000 gallon rainwater cisterns are buried below the back lawns to serve gardens and toilet flushing. The gravel driveway sits beside a band of preserved native forest on the north side.
The Salish Way cottages are certified Built Green 5-Star Net Zero, EnergyStar homes, Indoor AirPLUS, and with the Department of Energy Zero Energy Home programs. They are very well insulated from bottom to top, including blown-in cellulose insulation and innovative wall framing with insulated studs. The floor slabs on grade have a double layer of R10 foam insulation. Air sealing was carefully detailed, reaching 1.9 ACH50. The ductless heat pump is one of the most efficient models available and a heat pump water heater works with very low flow fixtures to keep energy use low. The apartment-style refrigerator uses 30% less energy than most fridges and works with butane, a climate-friendly refrigerant.
The Salish Way cottages are a little unusual as net zero homes go—you won’t see solar panels on the roof. That is because each home owns a dedicated share of Orcas Power and Light’s large community solar project on Decatur Island. For an affordable project, this made the cost significantly lower. Solar maintenance is done professionally by the utility. The panels are located offsite, but still owned by the home, so it is net zero!