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PNW Healthy Home Tour

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

An opportunity to learn about sustainable building techniques and practices

By Brett Marlo DeSantis

Home's Architect by Artisans Group

Photo by Poppi Photography

What does “being green” really mean these days?

Our modern world is loaded with urban words and catchphrases. According to urban dictionary, we must know certain words to even understand the Internet, from awesome sauce and beer me to bromance.

Some of the worst culprits of modern-day jargon are: engineers, architects, designer and builders, even more so in the world of green buildings and homes.

You may have heard some of the following catchphrases for energy, water, waste, nature-inspired design and small design: water conservation, energy efficiency, energy retrofits, alternative energy, storm-water infiltration, net positive waste, alternative foundations, advanced building envelopes, regenerative design, Biomimicry, the red list, material transparency, regional healthy materials, indoor air quality (IAQ), accessibility, accessory dwelling units (ADUs and DADUs), urban farming, embodied carbon footprints, living buildings, human-powered living, multimodal transportation and more.

If some of these words spark your interest, the easiest way to interpret this jargon will be to go visit green projects. The Northwest EcoBuilding Guild puts on a tour of green sites every year. The Northwest Green Home Tour provides opportunities for community members to learn about sustainable building techniques and practices from the people walking the modern day talk; site hosts range from the builders, to suppliers, to homeowners living it every day.

The tour takes place over the weekend of May 4 and 5, 11am to 5pm both days in the South Sound, starting on Saturday in Olympia and taking place the following day in Tacoma. It’s free and self-guided. Showing single-family homes with small to big remodels, new builds of backyard cottages, tiny-home communities to new condominiums and multi-family projects, each project features sustainable ways to live in the Pacific Northwest.

This year, the Bowman family opens their home again to showcase energy efficiency through its use of a roof-mounted solar array that integrates with a ductless heat system. This Tacoma family looks forward to sharing their story and lessons learned.

Point Ruston, a waterfront resort-inspired village, is opening its doors as well to show you green condominiums in a mixed-use community. And check out one of the three approved detached accessory dwelling units from the City of Tacoma’s Urban Infill Pilot Program that is going for a BuiltGreen certification.

Speaking of jargon, we’ve got our own PNW urban words: mucky-muck, sasquawk northwesternus, pnw drizzle, dissnowpointment (not this year) and certainly live like the mountain is out!

For more information, go to

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