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Australian chestnut floors

create a rustic backdrop for this

environmentally responsible Pacific
Northwest home.
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Wood floors add health and beauty to a mountain retreat

By Sue Sveum

ust an hour southeast of Seattle, away from the ocean and beyond the mountains, you’ll
find the tiny city of Rosyln, Washington, once known as the set location for the popular
’90s TV hit, “Northern Exposure.” Today, however, Roslyn is getting noticed more for the
future than the past. On the outskirts of town, Suncadia, an environmentally responsible
6,000-acre resort
community, is being devel-
oped. For some, Suncadia
will be the site of their
dream homes. For others, it
will be a home away from
home—a weekend getaway
from the hustle and bustle
of Seattle.
This is not a place for
those hoping to rough it,
though. Rustic, yes. Beauti-
ful, definitely. But you’ll
find high-speed Internet
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along with high-end materi-

als and expert craftsmanship in these showcase homes.
This mountain-lodge-style home exemplifies those qualities and more. Built by developer
Brenda Nunes, it combines exceptional craftsmanship with environmentally friendly building
practices. The project gave Nunes the opportunity to demonstrate that environmentally friendly
products could provide value in a custom-built home. A key goal of the project was “environ-
mental responsibility with a financial win-win,” she says.

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All wood flooring used

in the project was

Nunes had been interested in environmentally friendly site in the home’s construction, as well as standards for
“green” homes for some time, so when the chance arose to energy efficiency, air quality and construction efficiency. The
build a Built Green model home in the Suncadia community, projects also must manage construction waste according to
she embraced the challenge. Now the 3,900-square-foot, guidelines and utilize recycled products.
four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home has received a Working with builder Grey Lundberg, president of Belle-
five-star Built Green certification and served as the site of vue, Wash.-based CMI Homes, and architect Richard Fisher
summer tours for those interested in green building practices of Seattle-based Richard Fisher Architects, Nunes exceeded
or the Suncadia resort community. “I knew right away that I the Built Green criteria at the Suncadia home. Achieving cer-
wanted to build here,” Nunes says. “It’s a great opportunity tification has its initial price, but Nunes says the quality
to educate the outside community about Built Green homes makes up for the cost. “Green products may be slightly more
and give them more visibility.” expensive in the beginning, but they’re still very affordable,
Built Green is not just an ideal; it is a structured program and some of the cost is recouped down the line when you
operated by the Master Builders Association of King and Sno- figure in their durability and maintenance,” Nunes explains.
homish counties in cooperation with both builders and gov- “There’s definitely long-term quality in these products.”
ernment agencies. Several elements must be met before a Not surprisingly, wood floors make up a key component
home can be certified as Built Green. These include site of the home’s long-term quality. With their nonallergenic
development, including the use of trees removed from the aspect, they suited the home’s indoor air quality goals. Addi-

74 Hardwood Floors ■ December 2006|January 2007

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Teak floors help set apart the

“guy’s getaway” loft area.

tionally, all of the flooring is FSC-certified. “That means that in a sophisticated setting.”
the Forest Stewardship Council has determined the wood The fact that it’s a dimensionally stable product also makes
products are grown and harvested in a manner which pro- it a perfect fit for the home’s radiant heat. “The humidity
tects forests for the long-term,” explains Lisa DiMartino, vice level is generally low in this part of the state, but the wood
president for marketing for Seattle-based Environmental swells in winter,” Fisher explains. “Because the source of
Home Center, which provided flooring for much of the heating is in the floor, you don’t want wood that’s going to
house. move a lot.”
For the main floor, the builders chose a 7 5⁄8-inch-wide, pre- The heat for the radiant heated floors is generated by the
finished floating Australian chestnut wood floor. “It met all of home’s geo-thermal heating system, which utilizes heat
the criteria we had set for the project: it was FSC-certified, energy stored in the earth, rather than fossil fuels, to heat and
beautiful, durable and sustainable wood from a managed for- cool the home.
est,” Nunes says. “We picked the flooring based on its green The floating floors made for a quick, simple installation,
nature,” Lundberg adds. “But as soon as I saw the product, I and the only subfloor prep necessary was the installation of
knew I would have picked it for any house. It’s beautiful.” the floating floors’ foam underlayment, says Mark Fritcher,
The species’ rugged look fit the mountain-lodge style and manager of Cle Elum, Wash., flooring contractor Valley
wooded setting of the house perfectly. “It’s a wormy chestnut Floor Co.
with dark imperfections,” Lundberg says, “but it still fits well He estimates that it took one worker between three and

76 Hardwood Floors ■ December 2006|January 2007

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Project Details
Developer: Brenda Nunes, Associated Earth Science
(Kirkland, Wash.)
Builder: Grey Lundberg, CMI Homes (Bellevue, Wash.)
Architect: Richard Fisher, Richard Fisher Architects (Seattle)
Flooring Retailer (Australian chestnut) and Manufacturer
(cork): Environmental Home Center (Seattle)
Flooring Manufacturer (Australian chestnut): EcoTimber
(San Rafael, Calif.)
Flooring Manufacturer (teak): Toucan Teak (Tumwater,
Flooring Contractor: Valley Floor Co. (Cle Elum, Wash.)

The prefinished cork used upstairs completes the

environmental flooring portfolio.

four days to install the flooring on each level. environmental aspect—being harvested from the bark of a
With the main floor falling into place, Nunes says one of type of oak, which then grows back—this particular product
the biggest challenges of the project was to showcase as is especially “green.” It is prefinished with a low-toxic hard-
many green products as possible while still coordinating with wax oil, and the core has no added formaldehyde.
the theme and flow of the house. Floors, cabinetry and Because of the attention paid to using prefinished materi-
beams all needed to blend and complement each other. als and the home’s other environmentally friendly products,
With that in mind, Nunes took advantage of an upstairs interestingly, “There is no new-home smell,” Nunes says.
loft to bring in another species—teak. The change in species “Once you start working with these products, you don’t
helps define the area from the rest of the house. “We pic- want to go back,” Lundberg says, adding, “This is where it’s
tured the area as a guy’s getaway,” she explains. “[The floor going.”
is] very hard and durable, very dense. It’s darker and richer The final result was an overwhelming success. Except for
in color than the chestnut used on the main floor.” The 5⁄8- perhaps the conspicuous absence of the new-home smell,
inch prefinished teak was chosen for its color, stability, and, the green qualities of the completed home aren’t immedi-
most importantly, the fact that it was plantation-grown in ately obvious. Rather, the high quality of the home and its
Central America and is FSC-certified. materials take center stage. “One of our goals was for visitors
In the rest of the upstairs, except for one bathroom, cork to walk in and say, ‘This is a beautiful house.’ Only then do
planks were used. While cork floors are well known for their they find out it’s built green,” Nunes says. ■

78 Hardwood Floors ■ December 2006|January 2007