A family finds just the right environment in Seattle’s first Emerald Star-certified home.

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MATTEO BALZANI and Antonella Cadeddu really were not asking for that much in a new home — just two (two!) straightforward, reasonable essentials:

1. A rooftop deck.

2. A garage.

OK. Maybe “essentials” is too strong a word, considering they didn’t get either.

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Instead, they got a sustainable superlative: Seattle’s first Emerald Star-certified home.

That means the greenest of the Built Green greens. More cutting-edge than, well, a really sharp cutting edge. And enough technology, renewables and reclaimed materials to meet the requirements of Built Green’s residential building program. (Emerald Star-certified homes must achieve net-zero energy via a renewable source such as solar or wind power, and demonstrate a 70 percent reduction in water use, a 90 percent use of reclaimed or FSC-certified wood materials, and exceptional indoor air quality, among oodles of other nowhere-near-a-cakewalk criteria.)

Balzani and Cadeddu knew they wanted new construction, but the distinctive design for this three-level Ballard home stood out — and thus was snapped up — even before the green-building gurus at Dwell Development LLC and Caron Architecture finished constructing it.

“We saw it on the website, then toured other Dwell homes in Columbia City and talked to the team,” Balzani says. “Zero-impact definitely was a concept that resonated, but not something we looked for necessarily. We understood the whole concept and trusted them, but we had no idea how it would turn out.”

Cadeddu, left, and Balzani work on their laptops in the open living/dining/kitchen area of their Ballard home. The locally sourced concrete, glass and wood fit Dwell Development’s natural palette, says Dwell owner Anthony Maschmedt.  (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
Cadeddu, left, and Balzani work on their laptops in the open living/dining/kitchen area of their Ballard home. The locally sourced concrete, glass and wood fit Dwell Development’s natural palette, says Dwell owner Anthony Maschmedt. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

It turned out smashingly, and in August 2015, Balzani, Cadeddu and their young son moved from a Green Lake apartment into a gorgeous green showpiece. This is Dwell’s 100th certified home, for the record, so stunning sustainability is pretty much second nature at this point:

• The coat-of-many-colors exterior siding is reclaimed Douglas fir;

• Floors and stair treads are made from rustically lovely 100-plus-year-old wood;

• The light, open, perfect-for-entertaining kitchen features an airtight recirculating hood, an electric induction stovetop and sparkling NovuStone countertops manufactured at The Old Rainier Brewery; and

• Solid wood, triple-pane Euroclime windows imported from Poland retain temperature, and the operable ones open three ways for a variety of ventilation options.

And then there’s … The Room.

On one end of the second level, home to a guest room, a bathroom, a loft playroom and their son’s adorable bedroom, pipes, wires and high-tech innovations hum.

Cadeddu and Balzani’s 4-year-old son has a sunny slide-filled bedroom and a loft playroom (where one wall is covered in chalkboard paint) on the second floor. “He will grow up, and we’ll use this space differently,” Cadeddu says. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
Cadeddu and Balzani’s 4-year-old son has a sunny slide-filled bedroom and a loft playroom (where one wall is covered in chalkboard paint) on the second floor. “He will grow up, and we’ll use this space differently,” Cadeddu says. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

“This is what gets me excited, where all the mechanics are,” says Dwell owner Anthony Maschmedt. “These are the systems that make this house go.”

A programmable Zehnder Heat Recovery Ventilation system brings in fresh air 24/7 while pulling out the old. The Sanden CO2 heat pump, for hot water and in-floor radiant heat, is a “game-changer” at 450-percent efficiency, he says. And a prototype Kirio monitoring system runs the security system, lights, cooling, TVs and appliances — anything that can run off a signal, basically — from a phone, if you’re so inclined. “He can turn on his oven from Amsterdam,” Maschmedt says. (Balzani and Cadeddu initially moved to Seattle from Amsterdam to work at Amazon and Microsoft, respectively.)

Cadeddu was particularly drawn to the light and loftiness of the home’s main floor. “I love the open kitchen,” she says. “We can cook and talk. It’s a very nice environment for entertaining.” (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
Cadeddu was particularly drawn to the light and loftiness of the home’s main floor. “I love the open kitchen,” she says. “We can cook and talk. It’s a very nice environment for entertaining.” (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

One building material you won’t find anywhere, Maschmedt says — even in the light fixtures — is Emerald Star-prohibited plastic. Luckily, that ban doesn’t extend to the home’s contents.

Cadeddu and Balzani could have closed off part of their light-filled third-floor master suite to create another room, but they opted to leave it open and airy. “We’ve never had a bedroom this big,” says Cadeddu. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
Cadeddu and Balzani could have closed off part of their light-filled third-floor master suite to create another room, but they opted to leave it open and airy. “We’ve never had a bedroom this big,” says Cadeddu. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

In the wide-open, third-level master bedroom, plastic bin after plastic bin is stacked against one wall. Each bin holds shoes — almost all sneakers, and almost all one brand.

“We both worked for Nike in Amsterdam,” Balzani says, laughing.

In the adjoining bathroom, Balzani singles out one of the two home components he personally selected: Rocky River shower stones.

The other is outside, where reclaimed bricks form a path lined with repurposed bushes (!!) that leads to a sweet backyard patio, a rainwater-harvesting cistern and a special little outbuilding made from barn doors and hardware.

The rainwater catchment cistern, not yet fully hooked up in early November, will harvest runoff and filter it for use in toilets, laundry appliances and exterior house spigots. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
The rainwater catchment cistern, not yet fully hooked up in early November, will harvest runoff and filter it for use in toilets, laundry appliances and exterior house spigots. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

“This is my shed,” Balzani says. “The garage I didn’t get.”

Behind their Emerald City Emerald Star backyard, en route to the electric-car charging port, stands a Dwell duplex. Things really aren’t greener on the other side of the fence, you know: While similar-looking, it’s “just” a 5-Star Built Green home, Maschmedt says.

But … it does have a rooftop deck.

“We’re trying to get invited next door,” Cadeddu says.