Built green in Sequim
Energy-conserving home features sustainable materials
by ARIEL HANSEN
~ Staff writer
It’s midday on the hottest day yet in Sequim, topping 83 degrees in the shade. Inside Jeffrey Bruton’s green-built house, though, the air is crisp and cool.
“It’s still 69 degrees in here,” he said. “We haven’t spent a cent on cooling this building.”
Instead of an air conditioner or big fans, the house has insulated concrete walls and rests on a solid concrete slab.
“The home changes temperature incredibly slowly,” said Bruton, who built the spec house near South Seventh Avenue. Rather than turning the heat up each morning and down while the homeowners are away or at night, the heating system works most efficiently when it is set and forgotten.
This is because the house is heated by running hot water through pipes in the concrete floor. “It’s going to consume less energy if you leave the radiant floor on than try to monkey with it,” Bruton said.
In addition to the insulating properties of the concrete, the windows are caulked tight, creating a nearly hypoallergenic atmosphere inside the house that is controlled by air exchanging fans to keep the air fresh.
All of these measures mean that the cost of controlling the house’s temperature is minimized, making it attractive to homebuyers seeking efficiency.
Bruton, a Seattle-based contractor, goes several steps further, utilizing the most sustainable or recycled-materials he can, almost all of which are made in the United States.
“It benefits everyone and everything; the environment, people, the economy,” Bruton said. “I build something I want in the world.”
For example, the metal studs that hold up the interior walls of the home are made in Washington out of 70-percent recycled steel. Combined with the concrete exterior walls, the house is the best place in the neighborhood to be in an earthquake or fire, he said.
“In essence, we’re framing with old, rusty cars,” Bruton said with a laugh. He speaks quickly, his words tumbling over themselves as he shares his excitement about green building techniques.
The flooring is bamboo, which grows so fast it is more sustainable as a building material than traditional hardwood.
In building the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, Bruton used a checklist like those provided by recently formed nonprofit Green Built of Clallam County. The group was founded in response to builder demand, as more and more contractors have become interested in constructing ‘green’ houses.
“The demand is just going up and up and up,” Bruton said, among consumers, and consumer demand drives what the contractors build.
“This, to me, no one can dispute, is the best house money can buy,” he said, because it will last much longer than a traditional stick-built home, is constructed for efficiency to save money through its lifetime, and contributes minimally to the use of nonrenewable or slowly renewable resources.
The Summer Breeze Lane home is the first of its kind within the city limits, Bruton said, and is priced at $299,000, the lower end of Sequim’s market.
He hopes it will be comparatively affordable for a young family, but he hasn’t skimped on features.
Bruton installed integrated media cables in all the rooms, with telephone, Internet and television all in the same wall plates, and a socket on the wall above the fireplace is just begging for a flat-panel television. A large oval bathtub with whirlpool jets in the master suite has built-in heaters so it will stay a constant temperature for the bather.
“A house like this is not feature-poor,” he said, dispelling the notion that the owners of ‘green’ homes are giving up modern conveniences.
Copyright © 2006 Sequim Gazette
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