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nwBuilt Builds Two 5-Star Homes, Moves Another

Posted on Jun 29, 2020 in:
  • Case Studies

In Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, older homes are being rapidly replaced with energy-efficient townhomes. One of the area’s builders, nwBuilt, is targeting all Built Green 5-Star certification. Their most recently certified 5-Star projects are two single family townhomes, designed with an unique asymmetric façade that makes them pop out.

But what really makes this project stand out is what they didn’t do. While most projects start by demolishing the original structure, releasing tons of embodied carbon emissions and contributing to climate change, nwBuilt chose a different path. They partnered with Nickel Bros to relocate the site’s original 730-square-foot bungalow, giving it a second life as an affordable home on Lopez Island. Pulling the home from Ballard was quite the neighborhood event. Relocating the house for reuse prevented tons of embodied carbon emissions and preserved around 30 trees worth of lumber, roughly equivalent to the amount one person could recycle in 50 years.

Vital Stats



Location: Ballard, Seattle
Star Level: 5-Star
Checklist: Single-Family/Townhome
Verifier: Evergreen Certified
Site and Water 158
Energy Efficiency 131
Health and Indoor Air Quality 151
Material Efficiency 110
  Total Score 603


Through the combination of thoughtful salvaging, design, and a passion for green building, nwBuilt has been able to incorporate green products and equipment like HRVs and mini-splits to achieve their 5-Star goal. By over-framing the exterior, they created a sloped wall that serves as a design element and doubles as an overhang. Modern elements continue through the interior, with wide-plank FSC- and FloorScore-certified oak flooring throughout the upper floors and a polished concrete main floor.

nwBuilt Built Green 5-Star Ballard townhomes exterior

Triple-pane windows, 2x8 exterior walls with blown-in cellulose, and a gas water heater help keep energy consumption low. A Lifebreath heat recovery ventilator (HRV), the lack of carpet, and the use of low- to no-VOC products will maintain indoor air quality so the homeowners can feel comfortable and remain healthy in their homes. The home is also pre-wired for a future PV array and is electric-car-charging ready.

By combining these features and others listed below, nwBuilt was able to create two well-rounded single-family residences that are sure to last and have a minimal impact on the environment.

nwBuilt Built Green 5-Star Ballard townhomes kitchen
nwBuilt Built Green 5-Star Ballard townhomes dining room
nwBuilt Built Green 5-Star Ballard townhomes living room

Built Green Highlights

Site and Water

  • Small retaining wall to the west
  • 100% pervious hardscaping onsite
  • Infiltrating bioretention planter for roof runoff
  • Green factor score of 0.743
  • No grass on site
  • Drought-tolerant landscaping
  • Recirculation pump built into water heater

Energy Efficiency

  • 2x8 exterior walls with cellulose BIBs
  • R-20 sub-slab insulation
  • Enviro-Dri liquid applied WRB
  • Blower door scores less than 2.50ACH
  • Lifebreath HRVs installed
  • High-efficiency heat pump space heating
  • Gas tankless water heater
  • Pre-wired for future PV solar
nwBuilt Built Green 5-Star Ballard townhomes cabinetry with feature wall
nwBuilt Built Green 5-Star Ballard townhomes bathroom

Health and Indoor Air Quality

  • No carpet in units
  • Motion sensor garage exhaust fan
  • Low-VOC products used throughout
  • Large overhangs on east and west walls
  • Rainscreen beneath siding
  • Sloped sill pan and back dams at windows
  • All-LED lighting

Materials Efficiency

  • BMC Ready-Frame lumber packets
  • Relocated original house nearby
  • Recycled-content plastic lumber used for decking
  • FSC and FloorScore-certified flooring
  • Polished concrete slab floor
  • All insulation with minimum 40% recycled content
nwBuilt Built Green 5-Star Ballard townhomes exterior with pervious paving
nwBuilt Built Green 5-Star Ballard townhomes garage and utility room


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