Developer Eric Friedland is a local ER doctor, father, and husband, but has also managed to complete an impressive piece of construction over the past three years here in Seattle. The completion of his micro-apartment style multifamily building culminates a long journey of perseverance and dedication that started back in 2012. The building uses unusual construction and mechanical systems to create a green living environment with many unique features. This is not your typical Built Green 4 Star project.
Eric wanted to gain an investment, so he chose to educate himself in construction by buying land and creating a green building. He chose an unusual building material – ICF – and managed to create an entire 5 story building out of it. The building has a traditional style, and blends in well to its Capitol Hill neighborhood. The back of the building has a concrete exterior stair which leads up to a rooftop balcony. The stair, which is very unusual, has been done in such a way to add interest and aesthetic appeal, as it is well crafted and not a normal part of the micro-apartment buildings one can see popping up around Seattle. The rooftop has nice views of Seattle and Lake Washington, and adds an exterior living space to the structure.
Each of the 32 units in the building has a bed, a built in wardrobe, a sink with counter space, a shower and a toilet. On the entry floor there is a large communal kitchen which has a gas range and a commercial-grade dishwasher. On each of the other floors there is a kitchenette with a large fridge, a cook-top, and a microwave. Each floor each has its own stacked washer and dryer. All of the fixtures of this building were chosen with energy efficiency in mind, in order to have the greenest building possible.
The entire building is built out of ICF – a construction material usually only used for foundations or stem walls. ICF stands for “Insulated Concrete Forms”, a product made by pouring concrete between two slabs of rigid insulation to create panels. This project uses 2.5 inch thick foam on each side of the 6 inch concrete center. After filling the blocks with concrete, the finished wall ends up being about a foot thick. The ICF blocks are often put together like puzzle pieces – this creates continuous insulation on the exterior and interior, preventing thermal bridges. The rated infiltration level for this project was measured at 1.6 ACH @ 50 Pascal – this means that the building is very airtight, which is a benefit of ICF construction. Paired with high performance mechanical equipment, the building will deliver significant energy efficiencies and therefore lower the cost of operation.
The most important mechanical equipment piece for this energy efficient building is the hydronic heating and DHW (Domestic Hot Water) system. Rated at 96% thermal efficiency, the gas fired hot water tanks used for the hydronic heating and DHW are among the most efficient available. Eric also installed Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) on each floor which greatly improve the air quality of a building, something which is important in this tight structure. HRVs temper the incoming fresh air stream by first sending it through a heat exchanger. Heat from the outgoing exhaust air-stream is transferred to the incoming fresh air stream to create a more comfortable indoor environment while reducing mechanical conditioning loads.
Eric also used other systems to make this building green and align with the Built Green standards such as including a walk-off grate at the entrance of the building, pervious hardscaping, and a rainwater harvesting infrastructure used for specific systems in the building. Walk-off grates provide a way to mitigate dust and dirt coming into a home, which helps to improve air-quality. Pervious hardscaping allows for water to infiltrate directly into the soil on-site so less water enters the storm-water and treatment system. Finally, and perhaps the most unique water feature, rainwater is collected from the roof of the building. The water is held in an 8000 gallon capacity cistern and is then used for toilet-flushing and washing machines. This reduces the building’s demand on Seattle’s fresh water supply.
Eric’s ambition, research, perseverance, and attention to detail has resulted in an exceptionally efficient and durable building. In addition to his own research he managed to find the right connections to help teach him how to build green, including Tadashi and the staff at Evergreen Certified. This investment will help him and his family for years to come. He has managed to complete this project while still being an effective father and husband, and has maintained his work as an ER doctor throughout. This project highlights innovation and execution and will inspire more experimental and future-oriented green ideas. ICF has been shown to be a very effective green building material. This project can now be a successful example for builders who are considering using the material.