Sunset Electric Apartments

Since the original Sunset Electric building has been part of Capitol Hill since 1926, the new Sunset Electric Apartments were designed around preserving the well-known brick facade. This 90-unit, mixed-use project is pursuing LEED for Homes Mid-Rise Platinum and includes many sustainable features and amenities.

Additional historic preservation included reusing original framing timbers to create shelving in the kitchen and bedroom ‘barn doors’ in a number of the units. Sunset Electric is centrally located to local businesses, jobs and other amenities, and includes preferred parking for low-emitting vehicles and covered secured bike storage and maintenance for residents. Local lumber and wood products were used and the rooftop wood deck pavers are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified. The complex has an integrated trash, recycling, and compost program. A green roof and highly reflective roofing materials mitigate heat island effect, while drought tolerant plants, coupled with an intentional exclusion of turf grass, contribute to significant potable water savings.

The energy efficiency expected at Sunset Electric is substantial and should make it one of the top performing new multi-family buildings in the region. Most of the savings result from an innovative water heating system in conjunction with very efficient fixtures and appliances. A reverse cycle chiller located in the garage transfers latent heat from the air in the garage to the domestic hot water supply – providing synergistic benefits by coupling garage exhaust ventilation with very high efficiency water heating. All of the units are equipped with low-flow water fixtures as well as high-efficiency appliances and lighting packages. The building design – with an open courtyard crisscrossed with catwalks connecting units – increases day-lighting and eliminates the 24 hour heating, cooling, and lighting demands of interior corridors.  As a whole, the building is estimated to use 43% less energy than an average US apartment building (based on RECS survey) and could contribute to over 26% cost savings on energy bills.  This means savings over time for the owner and for residents and also helps the project qualify for rebates through Seattle City Light’s BuiltSmart program.

Sunset Electric units are also designed for excellent indoor air quality and the entire complex is non- smoking. Low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) materials, paints, and adhesives were used during construction. In most areas, hard surface flooring was installed to reduce dust and particulates -The limited amount of carpeting meets the Carpet and Rug Institute’s (CRI) Green Label Plus program and all carpet pads meet CRI Green Label requirements.  Additionally, the wall insulation meets air quality standards under the Green Guard for Children and Schools program.  On top of reducing the introduction of pollutants, the whole house/bathroom exhaust fans are equipped with occupancy sensors to boost the flow for 20 minutes after the room is vacated to exhaust both pollutants and reduce moisture.

O’Brien & Company provided LEED for Homes testing and verification services, as well as guidance and technical assistance to the project team.  Trades training sessions were conducted by O’Brien throughout construction, including a session focused on air sealing details in a mock-up unit.  After O’Brien diagnosed and discussed leakage sources during the preliminary test session with the contractor and trades, the construction team achieved a near perfect pass rate on the final blower door tests.

Throughout design and construction, O’Brien continued to “connect the dots” to improve the outcomes at this project.  The firm set up a meeting at the Lighting Design Lab with the architect and facilitated conversations to increase and keep the BuiltSmart Incentives on track. In order to optimize valuable investments during design and construction phase, we help connect the dots into occupancy.  We worked closely with both the owner and property management firm to create user-friendly Resident Manuals for the residents.  These manuals contain project-specific photos and information for optimal operation and maintenance of standard and green building features within the units.  We also created Tenant Improvement Guidelines for the future restaurant tenant to optimize the health, economic, and environmental outcomes of the build-out of the retail space.

Owner/Developer: The Wolff Company
Architect:  Weber Thompson
Contractor:  Compass
MEP: Emerald Aire, Rob’s Electric, JJ Plumbing, 4Seasons Venting
Energy Modeler: Ecotope
Landscape Designer: WBLA, Inc./Weber Thompson
Landscape Contractor: CEM

2014 NAIOP’s “Night of Stars” Award for Multi-Family Development of the Year – Mid-Rise