With the purpose bringing high-performance low energy dwellings to scale, I collaborated with Frank Mestemacher and Catie Chaplan of the Wood Technology Center over the last ten years to have students build two small, modular Passive House homes, the mini-B in 2010 and now the mini-ZEPH (Zero Energy Passive House). After working in design and development of market rate and affordable housing in the Seattle market for 35 years, I realize that we need to build homes that serve local needs as well as a global mission of addressing climate disruption. Toward that end, beautiful, healthy homes that target zero energy are key.
In addition, we have a clear need for affordable market rate housing in Seattle. The accessory unit zoning rules enacted by the city last August now allow both attached and detached small dwellings to co-exist with single family homes throughout Seattle. By allowing for a variety of home sizes and configurations, the city has unleashed the potential for neighborhoods to serve a wide range of needs, diverse and organic as it emerges from a mono-culture of existing single family neighborhoods.
The mini-ZEPH small backyard cottage is one of many ways that DADU's can serve to restore a balance of homes to the community that are more affordable than what exists today. Yes, we continue to have a huge need for social housing that is cost subsidized, not limited to what the market offers. We also need options in the market rate sector that reach the "missing middle" of housing needs.
My hope is that the mini-ZEPH will inspire others to take a path to sustainable dwellings that serve as home at all scales and beneficial for life.