When you picture college housing, you often think of a run-down house, perhaps with a ratty couch on the porch and students sweating out the summers and wearing parkas inside during the winter to save a few bucks. You don't picture living in a green house — green, as in environmentally minded (technically it's bright orange) — but I've been fortunate enough to call it home.
The Gee House, as it's called, is a co-op home in the Logan Neighborhood. The residential building is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certified, as well as Energy Star rated. It's also won a bevy of awards, most recently the Best of America Living Award. Buzz Price, the owner, teamed up with Dennis Cunningham, president of ActiveWest Builders, to create, design and build his dream home. While Price knew he wanted to make the building a co-op-style house, Cunningham brought the environmental aspect to the project.
Cunningham makes it quite clear that a LEED certification isn't easy to come by. Every part of the building and its materials had to be inspected and certified, and inspected again. The building's main source of heat comes from water under the cement floors. Every appliance, from the laundry room to the kitchen, is Energy Star rated. The windows are strategically placed throughout the house for natural light, and the design allows for the airflow to negate the need for much air conditioning. All materials used to build the Gee came from within 500 miles, and 90 percent of the waste material was recyclable. The list goes on, and makes it apparent how much thought and dedication went into creating the house.
During his college years at Berkeley, Price lived in a house a lot like the Gee. He wanted to bring the style back to Spokane.
"That was the best way to live in college. You were less isolated, and more like a family than just living together," he said. When he was envisioning the Gee, he wanted it to be a place for friends and families to gather and enjoy all of the unique features the structure has to offer.
But it's not just family and friends who have noticed my house. Complete strangers have stopped me on my way out to either tell me how "tight" the house is or ask me what it is more times than I can count. I see cars slow down and stare dumbfounded at the place. People don't know what to make of this huge orange, modern building next to a Mexican restaurant in the Logan Neighborhood.
That was Price's intent.
"I call it nose-on-window marketing. I want people to look in and be fascinated by it. It really grabs your eye," he said.
Cunningham doesn't know if the LEED Platinum-and-green building will catch on in Spokane, due to the added price and time commitment it takes to make a building green, but Price hopes to construct more buildings like the Gee House at other colleges once he starts to turn a profit. ♦