We had the opportunity to talk with Anthony Maschmedt, the Principal at Dwell Development, which is ‘an award-winning sustainable home builder in Seattle focusing on modern, energy efficient, net zero ready homes.’
Dwell Development is one of the region’s leaders in innovative sustainable design practices. They set themselves apart in the industry through their high standards in green building and design. Their latest project, Genesee Park Net Zero, set for completion later this summer, is an exceptionally high-performance modern home that will achieve net zero energy and 5-Star Built Green certification.
Tell us a little bit about the background of Dwell Development.
We started out back in 2005 after I decided to leave Maschmedt Design & Construction, which I ran with my mom and twin brother. Right before the economic downturn of 2008, the market was booming. Many of the home builders around Seattle were focused on standard craftsman style homes. That design aesthetic just didn’t speak to me, and I knew I wanted to go in a different direction. I chose instead to focus on sustainability and modern design, which was just starting to peak people’s interest at the time. Back then no one around Seattle was doing modern design in spec homes, so the market was wide open.
Once the market crashed builders around Seattle weren’t interested in pursuing sustainable design. We chose to remain focused on building green homes in the modern aesthetic regardless. At a time when other builders were losing homes, and unable to get financing we were helping to lay the groundwork for green building practices that would eventually become standard around the region. Without the competition of other builders, our company grew substantially.
As the market began to rebound, we were the only spec home builder doing sustainability with any regularity. We knew people would be interested in what we had to offer, and soon buyers began to create a demand for sustainable homes in the market. Other builders began to take notice as well. All of this contributed to shaping the landscape for modern sustainable homes you now see all around Seattle.
In what ways do the modern design aesthetic and sustainability work well together?
The majority of homes you see being built in the sustainable direction are in the modern aesthetic. I think there is a natural connection between the two. I have a great appreciation for the modern design aesthetic, which wasn’t present in the marketplace when we were starting out. For Dwell Development, we felt that modern design that got people to come checkout our homes. Once they got into the home, they would think ‘wow, this home can do what?’ Its modern design gets buyers into the home, and sustainability keeps them there.
When you see good modern architecture, it stands out.
Dwell Development takes sustainably to the next level through a concept called ‘Reclaimed Modern.’ We’ve made a conscious choice to use recycled resources. We scour the region to find reclaimed materials to reuse in our homes. We have connections with people in Montana and Oregon which gets us access to sustainable harvest collections, reclaimed barn wood, and other reclaimed metal material. All of it makes for a distinct design statement that is environmentally conscious at its core. The perfect way to create cohesion with green building and the modern design aesthetic.
How do you think the growing awareness of sustainability and green building is impacting Seattle real estate market, and the overall building landscape?
In Seattle, our energy code gets updated every three years. What this means is that a certain level of sustainability is mandated by law. Whether or not a builder wants to build green homes, they must do so to some extent because the codes require them to. Ultimately, this is good for everyone. It means that we have better performing homes in our marketplace. Typically, in the Northwest, we look to California and follow the standards that they set in place for home building. Fortunately for us, California has mandated that by 2020 all new construction must be net zero. I see this as a step in the right direction.
We have a population of smart, and environmentally conscious people in our local marketplace. If you give them a choice between buying a home that was built to code, or a sustainably built home, they will choose the sustainable home.
Given the current real estate market in Seattle, usually by the time buyers come to me, they are disenfranchised by the house hunting process. All they know is that they want a nice home in a good neighborhood and that it is increasingly difficult to find. This gives Dwell Development the chance to educate buyers on the benefits of buying green built homes. We show people the value in buying high-performing, net zero ready homes. Once you make buyers aware of all the money they can save on utilities through decreased energy consumption, they say, ‘wow, these homes are cool.’
We feel that we create a product that gives homeowners a choice. They can choose to buy the code built home down the street, which meets the bare minimum requirements of sustainability, or they can buy a 5-star, net-zero home for the same price. We want to build homes at the market rate that perform better and are better for the environment and let consumers decide.
Tell us about your latest project, Genesee Park Home.
Dwell Development’s net zero strategy requires a strategic approach to homebuilding. The Genesee Park home features an innovative combination of green building techniques and systems including a 9.0 kW rooftop pv array, airtight building envelope, high performance windows, 12-inch thick walls packed with insulation, high efficiency heating, and lastly, solar thermal technology for hot water, which is a first for Dwell Development.
What sets Dwell Development apart?
The mission of Dwell Development is always to lead, always challenge, and strive to do more with each home that we build. Our focus now is to have every home we build be net zero or net-zero ready. What this means is that the home is producing at least as much energy on site as it is consuming. We build sustainable because it’s the right thing to do. With each home that we build we are helping transform Seattle communities into more sustainable communities.