Seattle’s First Carbon Negative DADU: Making Healthy, Durable, High-Performance Buildings that Matte

2:45 pm. Room 110 - Application

Doug & Laura Elfline, Mighty House Construction/Lucas Johnson, 475 High Performance Building Supply/Roy McGarrah & Terry Phelan, Living Shelter Architects

Continuing content from the Slam presentation, this panel will dive deeper to explore the partnership, technologies, materials, and approaches that created Seattle’s first Carbon Negative DADU!

At this juncture of growth in high performance green building, and with the urgency of addressing climate change, it is critical we make the right choices to deliver truly sustainable, healthy, and durable buildings. Unfortunately, many high-performance buildings are built with materials that have high embodied energy, unacceptable toxicity, and significantly increase the risk of moisture failures. In fact, recent research indicates the majority of Passive Houses built to date may have a bigger lifecycle carbon impact by 2050 than conventional buildings. Bummer!

The good news is that there are simple and proven approaches using natural low carbon materials protected by best practices in airtightness, vapor control, and water control. This means that we can start delivering high performance buildings that actually reduce our carbon impact by 2050 by being carbon neutral or carbon negative from occupancy onwards. This DADU proves this can happen at a reasonable budget while achieving client’s unique goals including consistent comfort, health, durability, and efficiency.

Our session will conclude with an interactive Q&A.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand embodied carbon and learn to evaluate how material choices (especially insulation) can result in a net positive or net negative total lifecycle carbon impact for the entire building by 2

  • Communicate the nature of durability in high performance building and how best practice approaches differ significantly from conventional approaches

  • See the role of collaboration between client-architect-builder-consultant and how it enabled a higher level of green for this DADU project

  • Learn how to design/build a healthy living environment that delivers consistent comfort, uses natural materials, and reduces energy use by 70% or more

Doug spent summers during his school and college years apprenticing with his father’s Colorado-based plumbing company. With a degree in interior design and over 20 years in the construction industry, Doug has a full grasp of all aspects of the building process and a depth of knowledge that allows him to uphold the highest quality standards. Just as he strives for quality in every aspect of a building project, Doug is constantly looking for ways to repurpose materials and make the most of each hour on the job-site. He has a well earned reputation for quality craftsmanship, trustworthiness, and dependability.

Laura is co-founder and managing partner at Mighty House Construction - a sustainable home remodeling company, Mighty Energy Solutions - a distributor of efficient and comfortable heating solutions, and an über volunteer/Regional Board Member of the NW EcoBuilding Guild. For over 20 years, Laura has utilized education and outreach to influence positive change towards sustainability. She believes that an open mind, a willingness to learn, and the commitment to take action on lots of small, sticky, positive choices will result in healthy homes for us and the environment.

Lucas is a building scientist who has worked as a builder, utility program manager, enclosure systems consultant, and clean tech venture capital consultant to deliver Zero Net Energy, Passive House, Living Future, and even two of his own standards: SUN Buildings and Active House. Lucas holds a degree in Physicochemical Biology as well as a Master of Environmental Science and EcoEntrepreneurship. His position at 475 is his dream job since he gets to share his experience by collaborating with architects, engineers, and builders to make their projects cost-effective, carbon negative, healthy, durable, and enjoyable.

Roy explores design through architecture, craft, and community based participatory art and research projects. He has designed tiny homes, cabins, wilderness quest base camps, homes, and more. Roy believes strongly in the power of groups to transform perceptions of power and responsibility, allowing communities to act as agents in the design of their built environment and in the process empowering and connecting to one another and the environment. Roy also finds great pleasure in travel, urban homesteading, spending time with family and friends, as well as hobby carpentry, making art, and dance.

As the founder of Living Shelter Design in 1992, Terry is an early adopter of deep green sustainable homes and lifestyles. Her outreach includes radio talk show programming (The Eco-Logical Home), hands-on straw bale construction workshop trainings, and interactive conference presentations, all with a goal to help facilitate exponential change toward a resilient future.

Terry is a self-taught architect and Washington State native, and served on the regional board of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild from 2004 to 2009, finishing her term as Co-Chair. Her published works have appeared nationally and regionally, including articles in Natural Home and Mother Earth News.