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  • Writer's pictureCheryl McIntosh

Lowman Beach Residence – Sustainable Design in Practice

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

Owners Tim and Denise walked the Lowman Beach neighborhood for 10 years and always said that if something came up for sale, they would pursue it. When that opportunity came, the property featured an existing 1912 home with a footprint that wasn’t a good fit for the new owners. In keeping with their commitment to sustainable practices, the owners wanted to preserve the old structure and sold it for $1 to buyers that covered the cost of moving the home via barge across the Puget Sound to its new site (watch video here). The new owners were thrilled, and it paved the way for Tim and Denise to start building their sustainable dream home. They interviewed and hired Rhodes Architecture + Light.


50 photo-voltaic panels, high energy efficiency, and a myriad of thoughtful details make the Lowman Beach House an impressive example of sustainable design and building practices. The most significant measure was the addition of the photo-voltaic system, carefully tucked away on roofs, which generate enough electricity to sell a surplus back to the Seattle City Light grid.


well lit stairwell

Owner, Tim, mentioned that it’s the collective effect of many small efforts that form their home’s sustainability profile. Other sustainable choices included high efficiency LED lighting, tinted low-e west facing windows, rainwater irrigation, low maintenance Shou Sugi Ban Yakisugi siding rainscreen system and insulation beyond the Washington State Energy Code…even built-in drying racks for clothing. Interior wood and steel screens create filters, dividing spaces while modulating light. Exterior screens of sustainable Resysta filter light and views inward while lending privacy at the entry. There are also two separate furnaces responsible for heating different zones of the house based on how the owners use their space during the day and night.


The strategic use of natural and high efficiency manufactured lighting plays an important role in energy savings, comfort and wellness. Nearly all the lights in the Lowman Beach home are LED and on a Lutron system, allowing the owners to easily control lighting throughout the house while saving energy. This, and a whole-house approach to sustainable practices have the owners paying only $11/month for their energy bill and enjoying the comfort and beauty of a thoughtfully designed home.

“One of my favorite spaces is the living room sitting area, situated perfectly to take in the view. Kudos to Rhodes Architecture for their careful planning.”

Denise


The allure of deliberate lighting design is evident throughout the home and enhances areas where people spend the most time.




Natural light can also reduce or even eliminate the use of powered lighting for much of the day, reducing energy, the use of fossil fuels, and greenhouse gas release. Passive strategies such as light shelves or louvers mitigate the intrusion of direct sunlight in warmer seasons while admitting diffuse daylight inside the space. Strategically placed windows and skylights gently track the sun’s progress throughout the day and help our bodies align with circadian rhythm while bringing an overall sense of well-being.


In addition to reducing their footprint wherever possible, the home’s efficiencies create a comfortable experience that makes it easy to relax into the space.


“Everybody comes in and says how comfortable it feels, that it’s just not over the top. They can sit on the couch with their legs tucked under them and settle in.”

Denise


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