Dwell Development – one of the greenest builders in Seattle. One look at their portfolio and it is clear to see that they are creating some excellent and energy efficient homes in this city. I was lucky enough to sit down their owner Anthony Maschmedt to discuss his journey into building green, as well as his exciting new Built Green Emerald Star project in Ballard and the steps that led up to the project. Emerald Star is the highest level of Built Green certification possible, and I will explain what went into creating the project later on. First, let’s take a look at Dwell.
When beginning his company, Anthony chose to push the green envelope in order to set himself apart from his competitors. Instead of being a “little-fish in a big pond,” he decided to build green to gain an advantage in the field. One important step in his process was the connection he and Tadashi created early on. Their collaboration is one of the reasons that Anthony knows what new products to try out and how he finds new innovation. When I met with him to discuss his company and his newest project, he was careful to emphasize how vital his team and their work is to the success of Dwell Development. Anthony has made a point to surround himself with the best possible people in the industry. Because of the choices Anthony has made, Dwell Development is now a huge influence on the green building community in Seattle. Anthony shared with me a few of the important principles that Dwell is founded upon.
- Constantly look for what’s better; reinvent yourself.
Dwell Development has gotten to be where it is today because it is always using the best products. However in order to stay on top of the market, the company must always be testing the newest products. They are not afraid to try products that might fail, but are always learning from their mistakes and willing to but in the effort to fix them. Constant reinvention ensures they stay on top.
- Be an active participant from early on.
During my interview with Anthony, he put a lot of emphasis on how a home built by Dwell is a home designed by Dwell. Dwell believes in being an active participant from the beginning of a project – understanding how the systems will be integrated and how the building envelope will affect the end user. Trying to get plans from an architect and then fix the building will never yield the excellent results which Dwell has become known for.
- Build to last.
As a whole, Dwell Development believes in building homes that will perform well for a long time to come. The best products are used in all their buildings in order to get the most longevity. Dwell’s goal is to build houses that will last a lifetime, while helping to create a healthier world.
Dwell Development’s newest project is the idealized version of their values – their Emerald Star home in Ballard. Emerald Star is the highest possible Built Green certification, and Dwell hopes to achieve the first official Emerald Star certification. There are four important upgrades which set this building apart from most other green buildings. The 8 kW of solar panels installed on the roof power the home’s heating, domestic hot water, and any other electric usage. The home makes use of harvested rainwater for their toilets and laundry, which reduces the occupants’ water usage by 70%, the requirement for Built Green. The home is built out of 90% FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or salvaged wood, meaning that all of the wood is either reused or coming from responsibly and sustainably managed forest. Finally, the home was built with virtually no PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), a chemical which uses highly toxic materials. That was an especially important distinction for the windows, which are wooden and imported from Poland. These four changes set the house apart from other green homes, and create a truly healthy and comfortable space.
Anthony’s personal favorite part, and only possible regret, is all of the beautiful reclaimed barn-wood used as siding. The result is striking, and definitely sets the home apart from the rest of Hardie-covered Seattle. However, in Anthony’s opinion, there may be too much, creating some monotony. In the future, he expressed a desire to achieve more balance. While he wouldn’t do anything else differently, he hopes to get faster with the creation of Emerald Star homes. Of course, he will also be using whatever new and better products are on the market at that point.
Dwell Development’s innovative work on the Emerald Star project has not gone unnoticed. So far, the project has been recognized by:
- Home Adore
- Daily Journal of Commerce
- Proud Green Home
- Professional Builder
- Jetson Green
- BuzzBuzzHome PNW
… and it was also feature on the Northwest Green Home Tour!
However Anthony makes it clear that awards and recognition are not the reason he went after the Emerald Star. Instead, he looks at the awards and recognition as an affirmation of what the right way to build a house is. Environmental stewardship combined with comfortable living creates value for all of the parties involved in the project; an important idea he wants to replicate.
Dwell is actually looking to downsize for future projects – instead of trying to create a large number of 5-star homes, they would rather focus on making fewer homes of Emerald Star caliber. Another dream of Anthony’s? More Built Green apartments and micro-apartments. He wants to expand green building as much as possible, and is excited to see that building in Seattle is moving more towards sustainability. New technologies and systems are constantly advancing, and more and more people are seeing the value of sustainable buildings. We live in one of the greenest places in the country – literally and figuratively. The people who are moving to Seattle are doing so because of its reputation for innovation and advances in technology, and are looking for high-efficiency and high-performance homes. Dwell Development is providing for that need while paving the way for the future.