Martha Rose became interested in conservation during the energy crisis of the 1970s. This led her to an interest in building green, even before the term became widely known.
"I started out as a carpenter’s assistant," she says, "After 10 years pounding nails I was hired as a City of Seattle building inspector for four years, then spent 10 years as a freelance project manager. You learn so much when you do it hands on."
Eventually Martha Rose began her own building company, Martha Rose Construction, constructing custom spec houses in the Seattle market using strict green standards. When Rose was approached to be a DOE Building America Partner, she felt it was a no-brainer to join the program.
"My goal wasn’t to be a trailblazer," she says, "It was simply to build more environmentally friendly homes." When the Building America Program issued the Builders Challenge in 2008, Martha Rose was one of the first pioneering builders to take the challenge and build qualifying homes.
Martha Rose Construction maintains high standards of energy efficiency and environmental sensitivity, and every home qualifies for the Built Green and Energy Star programs.
Wall insulation is always increased to a minimum of R-26 by using 2x6s with plywood and foam. Attic insulation is as high as R-60, and beneath the concrete slab is 2" of foam. All batt insulation is non-formaldehyde, and spray foam is used to seal open areas around wires and pipes. Special attention is given to moisture control at all penetrations, beneath slabs, and on the roof—particularly important details in rainy Seattle. And, up to 80% of the job site waste is recycled.
Houses at the company’s Homestead neighborhood are outfitted with modern European-style radiators. A low-temperature boiler heats water and then pumps it to the radiator.
The warm water heats the radiator, which then warms the room. Water recycles continuously and efficiently through the boiler. These modern radiators are small, quiet, wall-mounted, and quick to warm-up. Each radiator has an individual thermostat that the homeowner may set. Maximum efficiency is achieved because a room is only heated according to its specific demand.
Each Homestead house is outfitted with a Fantech Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) for improved indoor air quality. With a tight seal keeping the cold out, pet dander, dust, allergens, and other pollutants can be trapped inside, creating an uncomfortable environment. The Fantech system runs constantly at a low speed acting as the lungs of the home. Fresh air is constantly being brought in, and stale air expelled, with much of the outgoing heat recovered. This is particularly beneficial in bedrooms, ensuring healthy, comfortable sleep.
- 6-year home warranty
- Fantech heat recovery ventilator
- Pre-primed, kiln-dried cedar siding
- Custom bent detailed flashing around windows and doors
- Detailed moisture control under slab
- Non-formaldehyde blown-in batting "BIBS"
- 2" foam under concrete slab
- Low-E windows, U 0.25, triple glaze
- Ducts in conditioned space
- 3kW photovoltaic system on each house
- Solar hot water, 16 evacuated tubes on each home
- Employees: five
- Development: Queen City Eco Village Homestead, Shoreline, Washington.
- Deveopment Size: three homes; plus one 1904 farm house renovation.
- Square footage: Main house of 2,400 square feet (four bedrooms, bonus room, three bath) plus a detached carriage house above the garage of 600 square feet, with full kitchen and bath.
- Price Range: $899,000 (includes main house and carriage house).
Rose notes that she sometimes gets pushback from her employees about building to such high standards. They want to make sure that cost doesn’t exceed expenses. The question "Can we really afford this?" is sometimes heard on the job site.
Martha’s response has never waivered: "If I can’t build this way, I don’t want to build. Let’s find a way we can do this." And they always do. GB
Photo: The homes in the Queen City Eco Village Homestead are planned and placed to provide optimal daylighting and are unblocked by other homes or their own projections.