Yakima Business Times

Announcing a Net-Positive Energy Efficient Custom Home in Yakima, the Huycke Residence

Seattle, Washington / March 2020 – Living Shelter Architects is pleased to announce the net-positive energy status of the Huycke Residence in Yakima, Washington.

In early 2020, five years post-occupancy, we were able to gather enough data to verify the net-positive energy status of the home. This 3,100 SF all-electric home uses a combination of passive solar site orientation, super insulation, geothermal heating and cooling, and an ample solar panel array. It produces more energy than it needs so the excess charges their electric vehicle.

“Creating a cost-effective net-positive building starts with the site, and how everything integrates with that site. Our clients found a south-sloping infill property that brought both opportunities and challenges to the project program,” said Terry Phelan, owner and principal at Living Shelter Architects. “So, we put together a team early on to synergize ideas in the concept stage, leading to some interesting solutions that kept both the budget and program goals in line.”

This custom home utilizes extra insulation and tight air sealing to prevent air leakage and provide an excellent thermal and moisture barrier. In addition to the traditional fiberglass batts used for insulating the exterior walls and roof, this home has continuous rigid foam insulation on the exterior of the walls and foam sprayed under the roof sheathing to help reduce both air leakage and thermal bridging.

“From our initial dreaming, through concept and design, and on into construction, Terry and the Living Shelter team were collaborative and creative -- committed to making our new home sustainable, livable, and beautiful,” said the client, Mary Huycke. “They helped us create a healthy home that fits the site and our lifestyle.”

The daylight basement is nestled into the hill with an insulated concrete block system. The hillside itself provides an additional thermal barrier. Made with rigid thermal insulation, insulating concrete forms are interlocking and filled with concrete. In addition to providing a structurally insulated wall they provide an excellent moisture barrier that doesn’t crack.

The clay plaster walls and stained concrete floors provide an interior envelope that keeps the house temperate. The homeowners report that both the indoor temperature and humidity are comfortable year-round in all parts of the house.


The Benefits Of An Energy Efficient Custom Home

No More Energy Bills

There are several benefits to living in an energy efficient home. One of the most obvious is the lack of energy bills. After three years in their healthy, efficient custom home in Yakima, the owners did not have a single energy bill! The fourth year they experienced an unusually cold and snowy winter, covering the solar panels for so long that they could not produce as much power.

Solar Incentives

It is estimated that between a 30% Federal tax credit, a production credit from the local utility, plus incentives from Washington State of up to $5000/year, this system’s costs will be paid back in one more year.

Healthy Home

Net Zero and Net Positive custom homes often utilize advanced fresh air systems. When also constructed with non-toxic finishes, materials and surfaces, the result is a healthier home to live in. For example, the clay plaster walls in our Yakima project, are a non-toxic healthy alternative to paint, wallpaper, cement, acrylic and gypsum plasters. Clay is a natural material that is mold resistant, temperature controlling, moisture and humidity buffering, and durable.

Clean Air

The airtight nature of this energy-efficient home incorporates an advanced ventilation system called an ERV or Energy Recovery Ventilator which provides pre-heated or pre-cooled fresh, filtered air – free of outside pollutants and allergens. We love how these systems work to help keep you and your family healthy.

Low Maintenance Home

Net Zero and Net Positive custom homes can be lower maintenance and are easy to keep clean due to their durable, airtight construction and fresh air system. Moisture barriers prevent mold or water damage and fresh filtered air means less dust and easier cleaning.

Fight Climate Change

There are so many benefits to owning an energy-efficient home. One of the most important is giving individuals a way to have a positive impact on our world. A Net Zero or Net Positive home by definition contributes far less - or in some cases nothing at all - to climate change.

Integrated Design Team

  • Architect: Living Shelter Architects, PLLC

  • General Contractor: Steve Weise Company (now Leading Force Contracting)

  • Mechanical: Paul’s AirFX

  • Energy Consultant: Ted Clifton Sr.

  • Solar Consultant: Ellensburg Solar

  • Interiors: Entero Design

  • Structural: Carissa Farkas Structural Engineering

Project Details

  • SF: 3,100 SF

  • Location: Yakima, WA

  • Clients: Huyckes

  • Completion date: August 2014

  • Previous press coverage: Yakima Tour of Homes magazine


Living Shelter Architects offers innovative design solutions for healthy and resilient homes, businesses, and organizations, with the goal of positively impacting our community and our planet. We strive to make sustainable design affordable and accessible. This is why we champion using natural materials, designing for energy efficiency, and striving to achieve Net Zero or Net Positive structures.