The Green Report: “Cargotecture,” Efficiency Investors, & Solar-Powered Apartments

It may not officially be summer yet, but it’s definitely getting warm and gorgeous outside–and that always inspires us to think green. Let’s check back in with the world of eco-friendly rental housing. And two out of three stories this week are from here in Seattle, which can’t help but make us smile. Enjoy!

The Green Report

Cargotecture comes to Seattle: Could you live in a shipping container?

Okay, so Seattle architect Kai Schwarz’s newly-built single-family homes inside shipping containers are only available for sale–currently. But it’s only a matter of time before one of these stylish dwellings ends up on the rental market. Schwarz and partner Ann Corning co-founded ShelterKraft Werks, and the company has already completed one cargo-contained home, with two more on the way.

Inspired by the containers in the Port of Seattle, the completed model “cargo haus” is a 160 square foot studio selling for $35,000. Transformed with round windows, stainless appliances and a tiled bathroom, the home look stylish and cozy–at least for those of us without claustrophobia. Next up to be built is the two-bedroom, 640 square-foot house, which will utilize two shipping containers and sell for $72,000. Where to plant your cargo home once you buy it is another story–unless you want to try parking it in the Port and see if anyone notices. Read more.

Landlord? No, I’m just the Efficiency Investor.

investorWhen considering upgrades or a major overhaul to your building to make it eco-friendly, the cost can be daunting–even when you factor in the future efficiency and increased marketability. But what if there was a way to green your building without covering the whole cost yourself? If a pilot program launched by Seattle City Light and the Bulitt Foundation is successful, we may see investors helping to pay for eco-friendly improvements–with landlords, investors, and tenants reaping the rewards.

So just what does this pilot program mean for the environment? According to Denis hayes of the Bulitt Foundation, “by separating the efficiency investor from the building owner, just as we separate the wind farm developer from the rancher whose property the turbines are on, we can reduce the energy use in most existing buildings by more than 40%.” All of that, and also making investors money? Apparently so, according to the DJC. The pilot program  will involve just the Bulitt Building, to begin with–but could expand after that. Read more.

Apartments powered by 100% solar energy lure tenants–in sunny San Diego.

photovoltaic panelsUntil now, if you wanted to live your life in a home powered by the sun, chances are you’d have to buy a single-family home and cover it in solar panels–a costly proposition for any homeowner. But now, residents of San Diego can choose to rent their homes, and still enjoy solar power, in a multifamily complex “designed to be fully powered by the sun.

H.G. Fenton has finished building the first of Solterra’s four apartment buildings, which will house 114 units. Currently 80% leased, the apartments will feature other eco-friendly perks, including Nest thermostats and energy monitoring by smartphone for tenants–a feature which was only legalized in California last year. And these apartments don’t come cheap; prices start at $1,495/month for 741 square feet. It looks like tenants may be willing to pay a premium for the novelty of an “ecoluxury” unit. Read more.

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