The Future of Sustainable Building: Built Green Conference 2016


On Tuesday, several members from the Model Remodel team attended the Built Green Conference held at Cascadia College in Bothell, WA. We send a few members to every green building conference each year so that we can stay current on trends and remain an active part of the discussion on the future of sustainable building. As Leah Missik, Built Green Program Manager, wrote in the event brochure “though understanding how green building is connected with complex issues such as equity, health, and climate change can be daunting, it is incredibly heartening to know that as we improve in one area, we also rise in others.” As a builder, we are committed to building in a way that is structurally sound, but also environmentally-friendly. We do this because we believe it to be right, it is a shared-value of our entire team, and it is the only way to build for the future. This is a view we thankfully share with a large community of advocates in the Puget Sound area, and it was a pleasure hearing from and speaking with some of these great minds. As Shannon Affholter, Executive Director of the local Master Builders Association, said “It’s about being a good neighbor.”


The future is looking bright for green building in the Seattle-area. Roughly one-third of new homes built in King County last year were certified Built Green, and the goal is to have 100% enrolled in a green program by 2030. The Built Green team also shared preliminary data that shows [Read more…]

Columbia City Backyard Cottage


Location: Columbia City

Type: Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU)
Year Built: 2016
Building Recap: Detached office and guest house built in the backyard
Considerations: Sustainability, multi-purpose usability, maximizing square footage

The DADU is a building by many names: backyard cottage, mother-in-law unit or carriage house are also widely used. This backyard cottage in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood was recently built by Model Remodel and designed by live-work-play as an extension of the existing bungalow home, though a separate structure entirely. The owners intend to use the dual-purpose space as a home office and extra storage, and have found new use for their backyard space with the fun, blue dwelling. Receiving a Built Green 4-star certification means the property is not only functional, but it’s highly sustainable too!

Detached Accessory Dwelling Units are small structures next to, most-often behind, the existing home on a lot. They can be used for a variety of purposes including: guest house, rental property, yoga or art studio, hobby space, and more. DADUs are a great way to supplement living space without creating a traditional home addition. Since they’re separate from the main property, they have more flexibility and opportunity for evolution as the owner’s needs change. In 2001, Seattle legalized the addition of these small properties on residentially zoned lots, making this couple one of the many homeowners taking advantage of the change. [Read more…]

4-Star Built Green ADU in Seattle’s Columbia City Neighborhood

Pre-construction meetings have just wrapped up for this modern Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in one of Seattle’s most up-and-coming neighborhoods. The Columbia City unit will be a photography studio and guest house, with a smart, modern aesthetic.

Sheri Newbold of live-work-play is designing the ADU, with construction going from the ground up. (For the companies’ previous partnership on ADUs, see photos from the Ballard Backyard Cottage.) The lower level will be a garage, with the living area designed above that. Sheri has created a space that is much more than a box; it incorporates an interesting mix of textures and angles. The siding will comprise boral and Hardie lap, with a standing seam metal roof. The materials are resistant to rot and provide “a fortress to the Northwest weather,” according to Model Remodel sales director Mark Lowe.

Model Remodel is especially happy to team up with the clients and designer, as all three parties highly value sustainable remodeling. With features like Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) framing lumber, salvaged items for finishes, and fortified insulation, the project is trending toward a 4-Star Built Green Rating.

For progress photos and project updates, keep your eyes on the Model Remodel blog!

Model Remodel in Alaska Airlines Magazine

2015-07-01 Alaska Airlines Built Green photo spread
2015-07-01 Alaska Airlines Built Green photo spread

Frequent flyers can find the magazine on Alaska Airlines flights during the month of July

If you’re traveling by air this month, and you’ve chosen Alaska Airlines, give that in-flight magazine another look. Flip to page 124. Alaska Beyond Magazine’s July issue features Model Remodel, partners CAST Architecture, and the two companies’ wonderful Laurelhurst clients who chose green building.

The story highlights the area’s Built Green program. The article opens with a two-page photo spread of the beautiful, 4-Star Built Green Remarkable Laurelhurst Remodel project—a second-story addition to accommodate the home’s growing family. The spread pinpoints the project’s sustainable features, such as refinished floors, radiant heating and natural lighting. The piece also covers the process of remodeling or building within the Built Green program; the financial and environmental benefits of sustainable design; and the cool features of this Built Green home.

So, if you’re on an Alaska Airlines flight, instead of wishing away the minutes, read up on green building! For everyone else, view the story online here.

Towering Alki Home

The homeowner fell in love with this West Seattle location, drawn to the expansive views of the Puget Sound, Alki Point and the Olympic Mountains. He purchased the property a few years ago and later brought in Model Remodel, who worked closely with Rene Architecture, to produce the outstanding home it became.

The first challenge was excavating 1,800 cubic yards of soil from the steep slope in an environmentally critical area. This was during the onslaught of winter, no less! The crew strategized to repurpose the exported soil on local residential projects as much as possible, which helped save the client money. Staff then built a 25-foot-tall, three-sided retaining wall and placed 25 feet of shoring below the ground.

From there, the Model Remodel crew was put in charge of realizing Rene Architecture’s vision. Rene designed the home to fit the lifestyle of the young, professional homeowner. The aim was to create ample space for entertaining and take advantage of the stunning views. In the words of supervisor Jim Frank, “It’s not necessarily the biggest house I’ve ever worked on, but it’s one of the tallest!” It is roughly 50 feet tall, with several outdoor patios for anything from a grill to an entertainment center to a hot tub. The bedroom and bathroom parlor are set up to maximize the views.

Matching Model Remodel’s ethos, the Alki home received a 4 Star Built Green certification. In fact, it was only 50 points shy of a 5 Star rating. Sustainable features include dual-flush toilets; low-flow faucets and shower valves; extensively insulated concrete walls; framing from local Douglas fir lumber; air sealing techniques that resulted in air-changes-per-hour exceeding Washington state energy codes; lots of natural light; and a hydronic floor heating system that also provides indirect hot water for the domestic hot water supply.

Photo credit: Cindy Apple Photography

Model Remodel Hammers Out Award

Model Remodel has earned Built Green’s Green Hammer Award in the category of custom builder for the Eastside Harvest House!

Judges selected the project due to its extensive sustainability features. The home boasts triple-glazed windows; an impressive photovoltaic system; Energy Star appliances; an expansive permaculture garden that produces the majority of the organic produce the homeowners consume; a 98-percent waste-diversion rate; and a rainwater harvesting system that provides 60 percent of the home’s gray and potable water needs. The Model Remodel crew built the entire house with Forest Stewardship Council lumber, from the largest structural beams down to the smallest wood shims.

As a result of all these measures and many more, the Eastside Harvest House received the highest honors of a regional Built Green 5 Star rating, along with the national honor of LEED Platinum.

Jason Legat accepted the Green Hammer Award at the Built Green Annual Conference last night. It was an educational day at Woodinville’s Brightwater Center, with sessions on marketing sustainable homes, the viability of sustainable homes in the current real estate market, optimizing healthy homes, green jobs, and many other topics. The conference included like-minded professionals in real estate, architecture, government and building.

Our sincerest thanks to go out to VELOCIPEDE architects, the terrific homeowners, and our long list of subcontractors. Last but certainly not least, the project never would have been possible without the Model Remodel supervisors, project managers, carpenters and painters. We share the award with all of you. Congratulations to the night’s other winners, too!

Eastside Harvest House Scores High with Deep Green

Eastside Harvest House Scores High with Deep Green

Conceived and built to achieve the highest point value for any Built Green 5 Stars and LEED for Homes Platinum project to date, the Eastside Harvest House is one of the most sustainably innovative, single-family residences in the region. Completed in May 2012, the home is designed to be beautiful, functional and green, as well as celebrate Kirkland’s farming culture that defined the community a century ago.

The home’s western-facing orientation optimizes stellar sweeping views of Lake Washington, the Olympics and the Seattle skyline. It sits on a quarter of the one-acre property, which includes an orchard, vegetable beds and edible landscape, as well as a giant rain garden.

Built to last, the home uses the highest standards in residential engineering and construction. Its complex, self-sufficient backup systems are enveloped by the home’s simple, modern and clean interior space design.

The 3,570 square feet home was designed with a separate mother-in-law suite for multigenerational living under one roof.  The open floor plan includes a light bathed great room, living / dining / kitchen, a modest master bedroom and bath, a private guest bedroom and bath, and highly functional his and hers offices. An exercise room supports the homeowners healthy lifestyle.

This home was also built with the design/build team’s impressive professionalism, communications, and construction protocols.

And finally, we offer a special thank you to the visionary homeowners who continually pushed the team to design and deliver a technically advanced model for future residential development.

Here is a list of the significant strategies used throughout the home and site.


  • Highly insulated building envelope
  • Insulation used to achieve R-20 to R-50 levels
  • Energy modeling to inform and evaluate design options
  • Highly-efficient heating, water and cooling systems
  • Air-source heat pump is used to heat the house
  • Renewable generation through photovoltaic system
  • Nearly all of the home’s energy will be provided from the sun
  • Sunshades deflect unwanted summer heat
  • Energy Star efficient appliances
  • Efficient LED and compact fluorescent lighting


  • Only low- or no-toxicity materials and finishes inside and out
  • Mechanical ventilation systems continually filter indoor air
  • Utilized 100% Forest Stewardship Council certified wood throughout
  • Low total carbon footprint in concrete installations
  • Very little PVC
  • Triple-glazed, argon-filled windows
  • Materials spec’d with low maintenance as a key criterion in selection process


  • Water efficient plumbing fixtures used throughout home
  • High-capacity, onsite stormwater management system
  • Rain collected in four, NSF-certified, HDPE plastic tanks totaling 12,000 gallons
  • Water captured will be filtered to one micron and sterilized for use as the first permitted potable water in King County
  • Rainwater harvesting system to provide 60 percent of the home’s total water needs
  • Black and gray wastewater directed to municipal sewage system


  • During site demolition, 98 percent of the debris was recycled, reused or repurposed
  • Advanced framing construction methods used to reduce construction waste
  • Materials chosen for durability, ease of upkeep, and where possible, high-recycled content


  • Soil conservation strategies whereby all excavated soil was reused on-site
  • Erosion control construction plan
  • Tree retention and protection plan
  • Utilization of drought-tolerant plants
  • Edible landscape design with orchards and beds for extensive vegetable garden
  • Extensive rain garden design for beauty and functionality


  • Walkable community with easy access to schools, retail, restaurants and personal services
  • Nearby trail supports healthy lifestyle of walking, jogging and biking
  • Transportation options – personal electric car, bike to work, major bus lines to Seattle and around the Eastside

If you are in need some residential green building insights and expertise, please contact us we are always inspired to talk about our unique experiences and to learn more about your vision and goals for your new home or remodeling project.


Photo credits: Cindy Apple Photography

MRM Ushers in Earth Month with Green Tour

MRM Ushers in Earth Day with a Eastside Harvest House Green Building Tour

On March 29th almost 100 participants personally experienced the nearly completed Eastside Harvest House project.  The home’s design team hosted design / build professionals, realtors, city staffers and interested neighbors – all eager to see what’s been happening at this new construction site on the eastside of Lake Washington for the last year.

This green building educational tour was among several offered throughout the project’s development, not only to built environment professionals and enthusiasts, but also to several Environmental Science and Sustainability Design students from local junior and senior high schools.

Key features of this net zero energy concept home are:

  • Use of energy efficient and renewable resources, including a highly insulated enclosure, energy simulation to optimize design, and 17Kw solar array to provide all of the home’s electrical energy needs, extensive battery back up and on-demand, energy use management systems
  • On-site, high-capacity stormwater management and rainwater harvesting will provide 60 percent of the home’s needs; harvested water will be filtered to municipal standards for potable use
  • Permaculture design with extensive edible and functional landscaping including fruit and nut orchard, berry bushes, bee fountain and terraced vegetables beds
  • Materials and finishes included using 100 percent FSC lumber, low or no toxicity materials and finishes; minimum PVC used; highest standards set for indoor air quality; recycled content nails used in construction; recycled content counter tops and materials chosen for durability and low maintenance properties
  • Waste management deconstruction plan recycled over 98 percent of previous onsite structure; advanced framing techniques reduced waste
  • Design dedicated only a quarter of the expansive, one-acre site to the home and garage footprint while the balance works to harvest the sun, soil and rain
  • Neighborhood attributes include a walkable community with nearby trails and lakeside walking promenade; located on main Metro bus routes

The home is targeting both Built Green 5 Stars, LEED for Homes Platinum and may be a candidate for a future net-zero-energy certification.

If you want to know more about building a new high-performance home or remodeling green, contact us anytime. — MRM Family


* All images provided by Cindy Apple Photography


Laurelhurst Whole House Remodel

Under Construction, Model Remodel Whole House Project

MRM remodel during construction featuring new entrance, courtyard and clerestory windows

Laurelhurst Remodel: Another Model Remodel Cinderella Makeover Story

Model Remodel is in the final phase of a whole-house remodel in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood. The small 1960’s home was built with little attention to detail, design and durability. The new homeowners’ dreams combined with the architect’s vision turned this boring little box into a home that’s worthy of a double take. Raising the roof, playing with juxtaposed angles and adding new clerestory windows and steel framed doors with glazing takes this home from ho-hum to high style.

Key design / build elements include:

Layout: A reconfigured stairway and dramatic new cathedral entrance maximizes efficiency and improves traffic flow. Open family space was created by converting a small bedroom into a kitchen that adjoins the grand dining room and living room – topped off by a jaw-dropping, two-story, black granite fireplace.

Bonus Spaces: The entire lower level was reconfigured to include his-and-her offices and dedicated rooms for media, guests and projects – perfect for working on that special family keepsake or a creative school assignment. The tired carport was transformed into an enclosed two-car garage with valuated ceiling and modern steel and glass garage doors.

Size: The design maintained the home’s footprint, yet added 50 percent more livable space for a total of over 3,000 sf.

Lighting: The addition of clerestory windows invites natural daylight to diffuse the public spaces.

Windows: The upgraded metal-clad wood windows improve insulation and enhance natural lighting.

Inside/Out Integration: Continuity is enhanced by using three similar, but slightly different, black stone tiles in the interior and exterior. The once-ignored courtyard is enhanced with new plantings. New balconies run the length of the house on both levels – perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee or favorite book.

Millwork: Extensive custom millwork showcases the family’s treasures and adds significant storage options.

Insulation: Insulation was upgraded to R-38 in the vaulted ceilings, R-21 in the walls, and R-19 in the floors. An initial blower-door test revealed major opportunities for improving the home’s energy efficiency. We added insulation, sealing all walls and ceilings as well as full sealing of heating system air ducts .  We will perform another blower door test at the project’s completion.  Typical results show a minimum improvement of 50% between the first test and the final blower door test.

Green features: The team used repurposed materials, donated original items to Second Use, worked with a waste management plan and installed energy efficient appliances. Built Green® certification is pending project’s completion.

Site: This gorgeous, mature, sloped site has peek-a-boo views of Lake Washington and is conveniently located near public transportation, dining and shopping, and the University of Washington.

“It feels like we’re this home’s fairy godmother – turning a pumpkin into a dazzling coach,” says the MRM project supervisor. Of course, the real magic comes from the talented crew and outstanding collaboration among the architect, builder and homeowner.

Stay tuned for a picture portfolio of our final project to be published sometime in May 2012.