Award-Winning Young Professional Shares Insights on Green Building

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A pioneer of net-zero energy home development, Anthony Maschmedt, principal and founder of Dwell Development in Seattle, is constantly spreading his wealth of knowledge about green building best practices at events around the country. Maschmedt chairs the board of the Built Green program, which is part of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and is a key member of the Columbia City Business Association. He was also recognized with the 2018 Best in Green "One to Watch" Young Professional of the Year Award. Maschmedt boasts countless achievements when it comes to building homes with zero net energy consumption, including the 2018 U.S. Department of Energy Housing Innovation Award and the 2018 Sustainability Leadership in the Built Environment Award. He shared with us his insights on the green building industry and what's to come. NAHB: What major changes have occurred in the past decade in the high-performance home space? Anthony Maschmedt: Not enough has not happened, unfortunately. I thought there would be more change and a stronger push for building highly energy-efficient homes. That being said, there have been many technological advancements in product innovations, including efficient heating and cooling, insulation, and high-performance windows. In the past 10 years, smart-home technology has come a long way. The market has made huge strides in terms of managing all the different systems in a home. There are a lot of companies doing exciting work in the technology space, and Dwell Development loves partnering with innovators pushing the envelope with smart technology. NAHB: What is the biggest hurdle for your design team when incorporating green practices and features? Maschmedt: Since we’ve been at this for such a long time, through trial and error, we have tried every type of system, so we have worked out the most cost-effective way to build net-zero energy homes. Overall, though, I would say the biggest general hurdles have to do with city regulation and permitting. For example, we had a senior site inspector challenge us on our HRV installation at final inspection. [HRV stands for heat-recovery ventilator, which improves indoor air quality, especially in tight building envelopes, by removing stale indoor air and replacing it with fresh, preheated air from outside.] We’ve installed hundreds of these units, and this inspector had seen them but never knew what their function was or how they worked. Instead of just asking us, he failed us on final inspection. We provided him with the current code, and he still didn't budge. So we took up our position with the director of the planning department at the city of Seattle. It became apparent that since we were the only builder installing these at the time, we needed to educate and share the concept of HRVs with the city, so they could better understand their function and use. It was a great opportunity to inform, initiate change, and allow a fast-growing city such as Seattle the ability to support innovative ways of bringing fresh air into newly constructed homes. These standard HRV details are now used by all builders in Seattle who install HRVs. Ultimately, it was a big win for everyone. [caption id="attachment_16390" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Downtown Kirkland 5-Star Built Green Home. Photo courtesy of Dwell Development[/caption] NAHB: What advice would you have for builders looking to start building more sustainably? Maschmedt: Just do it. But seriously, it’s the right way to build a house. The knowledge, systems and technology are here and readily available. I would say that younger, newer builders will have an easier time starting from the get-go with sustainable building practices. I am also an open book and happy to share my knowledge and best practices; I wish every builder would build with efficiency in mind. If you’re getting started in the space, just give me a call. Updates to the building code will eventually put us where we need to be, but we might as well get there now. This would allow for more homes that use a fraction of the energy of a code-built home to be on the market and reduce the carbon footprint of development by leaps and bounds. NAHB: Any predictions for the green building industry for the next five years? Maschmedt: I think that solar will be standard in every new building; there’s no reason it shouldn’t be already. I also think we’ll see an uptick in solar thermal — hot water — installs. Additionally, every new home will be managed with smart-home technology. Basically, my major prediction is that solar and smart-home penetration will grow exponentially. This post originally appeared on the Best in American Living blog. To read the full question-and-answer session, including Maschmedt’s business tactics and strategies, click here. To stay current on high-performance building, follow NAHB’s Sustainability and Green Building team on Twitter.

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