New home to go down right (green) path

In the quest towards energy independence, the Zero Energy Idea House is on the right path - the green path. The innovative demonstration project will be built on Lake Sammamish Parkway in Bellevue by Issaquah-based Shirey Contracting.

Zero Energy Idea House owner Donna Shirey (front) talks about the project as David Clinkston (left) of Clinkston Brunner Architects; Riley Shirey

Project will feature zero energy ideas

In the quest towards energy independence, the Zero Energy Idea House is on the right path – the green path. The innovative demonstration project will be built on Lake Sammamish Parkway in Bellevue by Issaquah-based Shirey Contracting.

For decades, Donna and Riley Shirey have been a strong voice for green building in this area. Donna Shiry was one of the founding members of the Built Green Program and still sits on its executive committee. She is also a past president of the Master Builders Association.

“We are very passionate about green building,” Donna said. “Riley and I have been building high performance houses and its just been a passion of ours to save energy.”

The pair say they always have recycled materials and are conscious of the waste on the job site while the housing’s being built.

The Zero Energy Idea House will be built on a piece of property that Donna has owned for 30 years and, once completed, will be called home by the husband and wife pair.

“We are in that stage in our career where we feel consumers need to know there’s a better way to build a house. You can build a high-performance house that saves energy. It’s all about conservation.”

Pam Worner, the CEO and President of Green Dog Enertprises, explained the project’s overall concept.

“Of all the areas that are associated with green building, the one that’s catching peoples’ attention most is energy. We all know that energy prices are rising and energy availability is getting a little scary and uncertain,” Worner said, whose company will be providing third-party verification by certifying the project.

This is the third green home development project that Green Dog has been involved with.

“I think everyone’s looking for ways to reduce their energy consumption or find new ways to move us towards new sources.”

To help educate the public on green building practices, the construction of the 1,700-square-foot, two-bedroom home will be available for viewing on The progression photography will capture design decisions, product choices and construction methods.

The project is a collaborative effort by several companies including Clinkston Brunner Architects, Swenson Say Faget, Washington State University Energy Program, Green Dog Enterprises, Autumn Donavan Design and Parsons Public Relations. Additionally, the project has 17 sponsoring companies on board including Triad Associates, a land development consulting company.

David M. Manning, the associate marketing manager for Triad, will work with the various landscape organizations and civil engineers to oversee the projects stormwater management, the green roof and the living wall. The 1200-square-foot vegetated roof system, also called the green roof, reduces the amount of water that runs off the property.

“When rain water hits building surfaces or roadways, it picks up all sorts of pollutants and toxins,” explained Worner, “and what we want to do ideally is control what happens to that water so it gets the chance to be purified or filtered before it ends up back into our waterways.”

The Zero Energy Idea House will incorporate additional green features including photovoltaic solar power generation, wind power generation, structural insulated panel construction and ductless hydronic heating. The house also will utilize non-toxic materials and finishes, a rainwater harvesting system and a vegetated “living wall’ privacy screen.

The end product should equate to a comfortable, stylish yet energy-efficient and sustainable home, proponents say.

Autumn Donavan of Autumn Donavan Design will oversee the interior design, working closely with the architect and the interior finishes. Donavan worked with Shirey Contracting on previous design projects and with the Master Builders Association.

“I just finished up on the Seattle Street of Dreams – the built green version. I’m very compassionate about the new recycled materials available and I think we need to make a change. So it’s wanting to really educate the consumer because the consumer has a right to say what they want in their home,” Donavan said. “If people start demanding more recycled goods, then recycled materials would become less costly.”

According to Worner and Donna Shirey, a lot of people say that a green home is an expensive home, but the two agree that it really comes down to material choice.

“If we look at the cost at the end of the project, it’s pretty much a wash,” Donna explained. “We feel it will be very cost-effective and it’s a matter of making smart choices and that’s where the interior designer comes in and researching the products.”

The groundbreaking is set for May and construction is projected to be complete by October. The project is endorsed by Built Green, Energy Star Homes and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America Program.

Lindsay Larin can be reached at or 425-453-4602.

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