From: Cydney Gillis, The Seattle Times
Published October 20, 2004 12:00 AM

Being 'Green' Can Mean More Green, as in Money for Seattle-Area Builders

Oct. 20—Barry Bettinger enjoys his work as owner of Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream. He says reduced energy costs will help make up for the added expense of building his company's new 10,000-square-foot "green" facility. Construction began today.


A new ice-cream factory in Maltby is breaking ground for Snohomish County and a small group of "green" builders.


"Green" is a term used to describe low-impact development that's easy on the environment and uses less energy. For example, the new 10,000-square-foot building that Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream broke ground on today will be heated, in part, with hot freon from its freezer unit.


The site, which will include a new ice-cream parlor at 21106 86th Ave. S.E., will be paved using porous concrete laid over special fill. Snoqualmie Gourmet owner Barry Bettinger said that will allow water to filter through the soil rather than run off into storm drains.


It won't be the county's first green building. But it will be the first commercial project to emerge from a 4-year-old county pilot program aimed at reducing drainage. As part of that, the site, which the Lynnwood-based company will move to early next year, will include a water-absorbing trail and herb garden instead of the detention pond the county normally would require.


Two other projects in the program — small subdivisions in Mukilteo and Bothell — focus on using as little land area as possible by building compact, two-story homes.


Bettinger will pay about 20 to 25 percent more than the conventional construction he had planned, he said. But in the long term, he hopes to recoup the cost in savings on the building's heat and energy-efficient lighting. He's not sure how long that could take.


Though "built-green" homes sell well in huge King County projects such as the Issaquah Highlands, builders say the extra cost remains a deterrent in Snohomish County.


"That's one thing we battle with on a constant basis — the cost," said Craig Carney, a residential designer with Estate Homes Design of Mill Creek. "A lot of builders would like to do it, but when it comes down to the bottom dollar, it costs more."


For residences — such as his new Edmonds home, which he finished last year — Carney said the cost runs 5 to 10 percent more than traditional projects. His 1,200-square-foot home includes south-facing windows to capture sunlight and warmth, energy-efficient appliances and lighting, and a duct system that can fan heat from a fireplace throughout the house.


In the pilot program that Bettinger participated in, a panel of building experts reviewed proposed plans to endorse deviations from the county code. But he said the panel's approval didn't go far with county officials in charge of issuing permits.


"A lot of issues at the county had to be resolved," Bettinger said. "If it hadn't been for 1/8Snohomish County Executive3/8 Aaron Reardon becoming involved, it would have taken much longer."


Chris Fate, an energy engineer and the chairman of a multiagency group called the Sustainable Development Task Force, said it will take time — and consumer demand — before the county can change that.


"The awareness is there," Fate said. "Now it's trying to bring facts that it can make economic sense. Once that's proven, you'll get customers, and the county and cities will make it happen."


WHAT IS "GREEN"?


The goal of a sustainable building project is to have as little impact as possible on the environment. Some materials and techniques include:


—Recycled or low-waste materials such as countertops cast from recycled paper, decks built of recycled plastic lumber or factory-cut walls that require no on-site carpentry.


—Pervious paving that allows rainwater to seep into the ground instead of flowing into storm drains.


—Alternate heating such as sun-facing windows, fireplaces that are vented to pass heat throughout a building or hot-water pipes built behind walls.


—Reduced water use through drought-tolerant landscaping or dual-flush toilets, which use less water to flush fluids.


—Energy efficiency in household appliances and lighting fixtures.


—Low toxicity in interior paints that don't give off fumes or carpeting made with natural fibers such as wool.


© 2004, The Seattle Times. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.


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