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Green architecture – Ellis Residence

By Damir Beciri
20 September 2010

ellis-residence-1Located on Bainbridge Island, the Ellis Residence is the first LEED Platinum certified single-family home in Washington State outside of Seattle. It was designed by Coates Design Architects for owners Ed and Joanne Ellis. The Ellis Residence is a fascinating blend of style and sustainability with a warm feel in its interior which is achieved with abundant use of wood.

The site had an old cabin and, rather than demolish it, the folks from Smallwood Design & Construction had it deconstructed or taken apart piece by piece so its building materials could be reused and not sent to the landfill. The new 230-square-meter (2,450-square-foot) home, which has a separate 65-square-meter (700-square-foot) apartment, is tightly sealed (it has mechanical ventilation) and super-insulated (roof is R-60 and walls, R-24) with a mixture of spray-foam and batt insulation.

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Additional insulation is achieved by vegetated roof, and the whole house is designed to passively cool and heat itself. It’s oriented to capture sun and shade, and its concrete floors and concrete interior wall hold the heat provided by geothermal heating provided by the hydronic radiant heating system which is hidden under floor. It has two 5,700-litre (1,500-gallon) cisterns that gather rainwater.

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The owners claim the house was comfortable without air conditioning even during the days with a temperature of 38°C (100°F). The roof also features a 4-kilowatt photovoltaic array which is able to provide excess power and distribute it to their local power company which sends them a check once a year.

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The exterior of the house is a blend of polished concrete masonry units (also used inside), galvanized metal panels and Ipe siding of sustainable wood. Its interior has lots of natural light which is achieved by floor-to-ceiling, triple-pane Loewen wood windows which offer beautiful views, stained concrete floors, a wall of polished concrete masonry units, custom cabinetry and sustainably harvested Douglas fir ceilings.

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