Until now the UK has been better known for its transition towns and green communities than the United States, but David Vandervort's super-solarized zHome in Washington has definitely turned that tide with a beautiful zero-energy collection of houses that make sustainable living a communal affair. The biggest design challenge was to fit 10 townhouses on less than 20,000 square feet while also generating enough roof area on which to fit the photovoltaic panels. But the architect did a fine job without sacrificing an iota of comfort or aesthetics.
David Vandervort was keen to create a happy marriage between the relative urbanity of Issaquah and a sense of privacy for the residents living at zHome. The entire complex is organized around a central solar courtyard that encourages socializing, although it is easy enough for residents to choose not to engage if they prefer, and cars are relegated to the periphery. Preference is given to electric vehicles, for which charging stations have been provided.
There are enough solar panels to power all of the homes, and ground pumps provide heat and hot water. These facilities, along with recycling, waste management, composting, and even a garden are all shared among the residents. Thermal massing and passive design further contribute to the overall energy efficiency. Each unit has a deck and are all naturally lit and ventilated. David Vandervort has definitely set the bar high for future communities hoping to achieve the kind of sustainability enjoyed in Issaquah!
all images © Aaron Ostrowsky