When you step inside the model home at Selah Vista, the first thing you notice is what seems to be missing: that new home smell. What you sense instead is fresh clean air. No paint fumes, no off-gassing from synthetic carpeting and glue-filled building products, just really clean air. The home’s energy recovery ventilator (ERV) — which is an air exchanger, provides a constant source of fresh air. And that’s just one of the many revolutionary amenities built into the homes in Selah’s new community and Central Washington’s first, healthy, Built-Green, energy efficient, solar powered community, built with Universal Design Standards.
“I cannot emphasize enough — the importance of air quality in a home. Until the recent arrival of this new technology, indoor air quality of a home was completely subjective to circumstance. For years I would walk into a home and with a quick sniff be able to determine with close certainty that the indoor air was either good or toxic,” says developer and builder Steve Weise. He went on to say, “For years building materials, finishes and furniture have been chosen on appearance and price, rarely giving a thought to toxic gas being released into the home. Unless you got sick or learned of the dangers, people would hear my warnings and think of me as an alarmist when I made a big deal out of the new home smell.” Now, thanks to a new device that can easily be installed inside homes, occupants know in real time if they are in a safe environment. It’s a construction game-changer. It detects VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) particulates, CO2 and CH2O in 1-minute increments, around the clock and with a 95 percent or higher rate of accuracy. “Of all the cool gadgets we have in these homes, this is by far my favorite,” adds Weise.
The mission, “That everyone can live in a healthy home, with no monthly power bill and in a sustainable environment,” is the brainchild of Weise. He is known to many in the Yakima Valley as the owner of Leading Force Energy and Design Center in downtown Yakima. He has earned distinctions such as Certified Green Building Professional, Leader in the Central Washington Built Green Program, and was awarded the 2014 Central Washington Builder of the Year. Since 2014, the team at Leading Force Energy has provided a full suite of products and services that includes architecture and construction for new homes, as well as remodeling and light commercial projects. Beyond their design/build capabilities, the public showroom managed by Gina Brandt, a decorator with over 30 years of experience in space planning, features energy efficient, earth-friendly and sustainable products, all with one thing in mind: to provide the community with products to create homes that are as healthy and efficient as they are beautifully designed.
The vision for the Selah Vista community began more than 11 years ago. Steve first became deeply involved in green building when he built for a family who believed their children’s health issues were caused by the toxins in their home. They hired him to build a Built Green, 5-Star home. After moving into their certified, zero VOC home the family was able to resume a normal, healthy life. This underscored what Steve has known for some time. Homes can be built to be healthy, energy efficient and smart.
The Cascade floor plan at Selah Vista is a showcase of the community’s mission. It discretely features a long list of innovative and smart home features. Nearly unnoticeable sensors learn the occupant’s behaviors and react to their needs. Should you leave the home with your lights on, it will contact you via an application on your cell phone asking you if you would like them turned off. Likewise, as you return home, you can tell the system to turn the lights on, unlock your doors and have your favorite song playing as you enter. But that’s just the tip of the technology iceberg.
Every home in the community will be wired for just about any technical device imaginable, covering audio and visual, Internet and high-end appliances. All wires terminate in a dedicated low voltage closet, making it easy to configure the systems. It includes the Kirio and Control4 home technology systems which manage the home from one hub and with one application. Reading from the home’s eight temperature and humidity sensors, it communicates with the ERV to minimize energy usage. These seemingly futuristic technologies are real. These smart homes get to know you and not only understand your behaviors, they actually anticipate your needs in every room of the house.
Weise goes on to say, “Many folks these days are watching the advancement of technology closely. As our lives become more occupied with the busyness of life, many are seeking innovation without additional responsibility. We are incorporating a technology that learns your habits and conditions of comfort and it makes adjustments based on your lifestyle patterns without sacrificing your security. Whether you’re a techy do-it-yourselfer or you just want the benefits of technology without the responsibility, we have you covered.”
The efficiencies of these homes do not stop there. We all know that Eastern Washington is the land of sunshine. In fact, Selah reports close to 300 days of sun each year. With that in mind, all of the homes at Selah Vista are solar powered and the energy that each home gathers from our solar-rich environment feeds directly into Pacific Power’s electrical grid. What is really amazing, is that the homeowners will be credited back for the solar energy they produce. And although every home in Selah Vista will be run on 100 percent electric power, with the amount of solar energy each home produces, the homeowners should potentially have no electric bills, save for a small usage fee.
Additionally, all the homes at Selah Vista are engineered and constructed with Universal Design in mind. They are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, and designed to accommodate their owners as they age or should they become disabled. This allows the homeowner to live comfortably in the same home for many years. Some of the differences are wider front doorways, and no transitions between the garage and house or between rooms. The spacious master bath showers are curbless, which makes them visually beautiful, with no trip hazards. Should the homeowner become physically reliant on a wheelchair, they can easily roll into the shower. These single level home plans also offer larger interior doorways for easy wheelchair access.
Both of Steve’s grandfathers were builders. “If they were to step into our model home at Selah Vista, their minds would be overwhelmed. Building a home is not even close to the simple coming together of common materials like in the past. The amount of knowledge required to construct a modern home that is responsible to its occupant’s health, resources and future in that home, requires more than one man,” says Weise, “It requires a team of dedicated, forward-thinking professionals and tradesmen.”
Selah Vista is truly a unique community and one that you must experience to fully realize its innovation. All of the carefully thought-out details for health, safety and technology do not overshadow the beauty and livability of the homes. “This is one of those once in a lifetime projects. I am thrilled to be representing Selah Vista and believe it will attract buyers from throughout the state,” says Brenda Nunes, managing real estate broker with Keller Williams. The design details are stunning and feature high-end stainless-steel appliances, including a state-of-the-art induction stove, quartz solid-surface countertops, and polished poured-concrete floors, beautifully designed niches and storage areas and windows that take advantage of the lovely views in the higher hills of Selah.
The grand vision for the Selah Vista community includes outdoor amenities as well, where homeowners can gather and connect with neighbors and friends. Once the homes located in a central part of the community are completed, a common area that includes spaces for exercising and gardening will be created. There will also be a walking trail that winds through Selah Vista, perfect for jogging, biking or taking a leisurely stroll and admiring the views of the Valley. Weise adds, “Selah Vista is the crescendo of our study and passion to create homes that reflect the many elements for a family to thrive in a world of such great diversity.”