Sophie Studios

The Sophie Studios is a 4-Star, Built Green property located just blocks from the University of Washington main entrance.  This 42-unit, congregate housing project has become a community in and of itself, providing individual units coupled with common areas to create an efficient use of space, materials, and energy.  O’Brien & Company worked closely with the contractor to ensure the project sustainability goals were achieved through design integration and construction verification.

The Sophie is located within blocks of numerous amenities and services; and local and regional transportation service, allowing for easy access by foot or bike.  The project exceeds the City of Seattle’s 0.50 Green Factor requirement by 10%.   All landscape plantings are drought tolerant and no turf was used.  The roof water is collected into a bio-retention planter at the front of the building that can handle typical rain events, rather than sending stormwater to the sewer system.  Additional water conservation is achieved with highly efficient flow and flush fixtures, and clothes washers, which use less water and energy.

The predicted annual energy performance rating for The Sophie project was 26.1% better than the Built Green baseline.  Initial analysis of the first fall and winter of operation at full capacity indicates actual performance will surpass this estimate. The project includes highly reflective materials on 100% of the roof; a conservative window-to-wall ratio (WWR); U-0.26 windows; roof truss energy heels and R-49 insulation in roof; intermediate framing in the walls; efficient lighting design and lamps; central high efficiency domestic hot water system; EnergyStar compact refrigerators and whole house fans; and shared kitchen and laundry for the entire building.  During construction, O’Brien & Company provided in-field verification for Built Green certification, which led to identifying issues with air-sealing and insulation installation that were remedied early.  Through education and building capacity with the installers, these issues were avoided throughout construction, leading to improved energy performance and greater building durability.  In addition, lessons learned on how the framing could be changed to provide easy access during the insulation install will benefit neighboring sister projects.

A number of strategies were employed to create a healthy indoor living space, such as properly sized, highly efficient fans for unit ventilation; Low-VOC paints and construction adhesives; GreenGuard Gold batt insulation; no carpet in units; and flooring products meeting both Green Label Plus and FloorScore certifications.  Over 4000 pounds of material was salvaged from the structure by The Re-Store, prior to demolition.  The unit density of this project leads to a decrease in materials and overall resource impact compared to a typical building with the same number of units.  Cabinets and windows were produced regionally and all lumber is sourced from within 500 miles of the site.

Contractor:  Meridian Builders, Inc.
Architect:  Dimensions, Inc.