The first zero-energy multifamily community in the US is now open, demonstrating that cutting edge green building technologies are not only possible – but also scalable – for mainstream housing production.

Located in Issaquah, Wash., zHome’s 10 townhomes use zero net energy; 70% less water; nearly 80% Forest Stewardship Council certified wood; healthy, low-toxicity materials; and salmon-friendly site practices.

“This pioneering project sets a new standard for how homes can – and should – be built in our region and country,” says Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger. “Our vision is that zHome’s innovative approach will catalyze the market for much greener building materials and technologies, as well as inspire the next generation of homebuilders through examples that are replicable and market rate.”

zHome was built thanks to a public/private partnership spearheaded by the City of Issaquah, in conjunction with Built Green, King County, Port Blakely Communities, Puget Sound Energy and the Washington State University Energy Program. The homes were built and developed by Ichijo USA and Seattle builder Matt Howland.

The partners have also created a sustained, long-term education and marketing program to accelerate market adoption of sustainable housing in the region. One of zHome’s 10 units will remain as a Stewardship Center for the next five years, offering educational programming and tours for the community, builders, designers and students.

“Buildings account for 40% of all carbon dioxide emissions nationally, yet modern homes are about as innovative as the Model T,” says zHome project manager Brad Liljequist with the City of Issaquah. The Stewardship Center will also offer folks innovative and practical steps for replicating zHome’s approach in their own home building or remodeling projects.”  

zHome is designed to push the limits of green building and hit aggressive, numeric benchmarks in energy, water, materials, construction waste and site development.  The benchmarks include:

  • Zero net energy and carbon neutral because of energy-efficient construction practices and solar panels.
  • Use 70% less water than the average home, achieved through an integrated rainwater recycling system and water-efficient fixtures.
  • Incorporate 78% FSC-certified wood products and a high percentage of recycled, reclaimed and regional materials.
  • Diverted 90% of all construction-related debris through waste prevention, reuse and recycling.
  • Offer high indoor air quality through low toxicity materials and proper ventilation.
  • Reduce stormwater impact through low-impact site development strategies – including recharging runoff onsite – to mimic the site’s original, forested state.
  • Achieve the highest ever Built Green certification score of 850 points.
  • Developed in conjunction with an adjacent 150-unit YWCA Family Village workforce housing community. Together, they form a transit-oriented development adjacent to a regional transit center.