Our Community-Marja Preston



For this week’s installment of Our Community we spoke with Marja Preston from Blue Frog Solar. We asked Marja about what inspired her to get into solar, why it’s the right time to add solar to your home, and her favorite neighborhood in Seattle

1.    Tell us a little bit about yourself, are you originally from Washington?

I grew up in Corvallis, a small university town in Oregon, though I also lived in Europe and Central Africa as I was growing up. Our family was green before green was cool – we grew our own food, we put sweaters on when it got chilly instead of turning up the heat, and we rode our bikes everywhere.  We did these things not just because they conserved resources, but because they saved money. My parents made sure we spent a lot of time in the outdoors, skiing, sailing, climbing, hiking and learning to appreciate beautiful natural places. They instilled in me a sense of wonder for the incredible places on our planet, and a desire to preserve those places so my children can experience them as I did.

2.    How did you get into the solar industry, what inspired working in that field?

I’ve spent the last four years on a development team creating a net-zero energy residential development. After extensive research we found that solar was the best option to provide all the renewable energy needed for our project. We partnered with BlueFrog Solar, iTek energy, and A&R Installers to create a solar package that would be easy for home buyers to choose. We also partnered with a local credit union, Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union, so our buyers could access zero-down financing for their solar arrays. We essentially eliminated all the barriers, financial and otherwise, to make it easy for our home buyers to add solar to their homes.

We had incredible success with this program, with almost 100% participation. I am now applying what I learned through that experience to create BlueFrog’s Simple Solar program, helping other developers and homebuilders to offer solar to their customers.

3.    How did the Bluefrog Solar and Dwell Development partnership come about? When did you start working together?

We’ve known Dwell Development for some time, sharing information and ideas on how to build and market energy efficient homes. Dwell’s homes are all built solar-ready in anticipation of someday adding solar panels on each roof. We’ve talked with Dwell for a couple years about helping them add solar as an option to their homes when the time and the cost was right. That time is now, as the cost of solar equipment has come down almost 60% over the last two years. The cost of the system, including equipment and installation is now at a point where the federal and state incentives essentially pay for the system over 5-6 years. With the zero-down financing from PSCCU and the incentives that cover the loan payments until the system is paid off, there is really no reason not to add solar now.

4.    You’ve recently had some pretty big success, including a one hundred percent buy in at a new eco friendly community on Bainbridge Island. Tell us a little bit about that project.

The Grow Community project on Bainbridge Island is a One Planet community, one of seven communities in the world endorsed to a very high standard. To meet the One Planet principles, the community of 131 homes is designed to reduce the carbon footprint of its residents to a level that can be sustained by our one planet (the typical American lifestyle requires 5 planet’s worth of resources). The principles of the One Planet program extend beyond just the built environment to include reducing carbon from transportation and food. The Grow Community includes net-zero energy houses and apartments, powered entirely by solar, community gardens outside every front door, and a car share program – also powered by solar.

The response to the community was unprecedented – 23 homes were sold before they were ever listed on the MLS. There is a wait list for the apartments and a long list of interested buyers for the next two phases. It is clear that buyers are interested in living sustainably, especially if we can make it easy, attractive and affordable.

5.    Last but not least what is your favorite neighborhood in Seattle right now, where do you like to hangout and grab a drink?

Bainbridge of course! The island is not often thought of as a neighborhood in Seattle, but it is, really. Many people live here and commute into Seattle. It has a wonderful small town feel and the best commute on the planet! Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time at the Bainbridge Island Art Museum bistro. It is the perfect lunch spot (the soups and the salads are incredible), a great meeting spot and a good excuse to wander around the museum. Did I mention the best part – entrance to the art museum is free to everyone so you can feel free to wander for a short while and come back any time. The museum is powered by iTek solar panels too.

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Eco Tip Monday- Energy Efficient Lighting

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Replacing incandescent lighting with energy-efficient lighting is one of the easiest things you can do to save electricity and money. Seattle City Light offers instant rebates on select ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), Light Emitting Diode bulbs (LEDs), fluorescent fixtures and LED recessed can fixtures through participating retailers.


ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs use up to 75% less electricity and last 6-10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. CFLs come in a variety of shapes, wattages, colors and features, and often cost less than $1 after City Light discounts.

Up to $10 Discount on LED Bulbs and Fixtures!

In addition to being highly efficient, LED light bulbs last as long as 25 years and have exceptional dimming capability. LEDs bulbs and fixtures are becoming increasingly affordable; City Light rebates make it even easier to purchase long-lasting, efficient, high quality LED lighting for your home.

Whether you choose CFLs or LEDs, you’ll want to choose the bulb that provides the right amount of light for your needs. Always check the lighting facts label on the packaging to determine the light output (lumens), wattage and color.

  Your Guide to More Efficient and Money-Saving Light 

How to Find Discounted LED and CFL Lighting 

You don’t have to fill out forms or lick stamps to take advantage of our lighting rebates. Seattle City Light has agreements with participating retailers to pay instant rebates on ENERGY STAR lighting products. The price you see on the shelf is the final price you pay at the register, and includes City Light’s rebate.

CFL recycling

Because CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, they must be disposed of and recycled at a local collection site and not thrown in the trash. There are many convenient locations that recycle CFLs for free, including Bartell Drugs, Home Depot, Lowes, McLendon Hardware and SCL’s North and South Service Centers.


For questions about Seattle City Light lighting discounts, call 206-684-3800 or email(Enable Javascript to see the email address)


* Based on a 7 year life of bulb, 3 hours/day of use, with $.095 kWh rates)

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Eco Tip Monday-High Efficiency Toilet

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Consider using a high efficiency water conserving toilet in either your remodel or your new home. Dwell Development uses the Niagara Stealth and here is why:

  • Innovative and stylish, Niagara’s 0.8 gallon per flush (GPF) ultra high-efficiency toilet (UHET), goes a step beyond the standard water-saving toilets on the market.
  • With its quiet flush, low-profile body and breakthrough patented hydraulic technology, the Stealth has revolutionized the toilet market.
  • The Stealth easily replaces your existing toilet, offering superior performance and lowering water usage and utility bills like no other toilet can.
  • By adding a Niagara Toilet you could save as many as 11,000 gallons of water annually.
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Our Community Susan Stasik


Susan Stasik is one of the top listing and selling Brokers with Windermere Real Estate/Northwest, Inc. And she has been a long time partner with Dwell Development. Susan brings over 23 years of real estate expertise to the company and oversees the marketing and sales of our Dwell homes.

1. Tell us a little about yourself where are you from, and what do you do in our lovely city?

Bellingham, WA is my childhood hometown. After graduating from Washington State University in 1990, I moved to Seattle and shortly thereafter began my real estate career. I am a licensed full-time Managing Broker with Windermere Real Estate. Life in Seattle is wonderful. Every day, wherever I go, I get to enjoy mountains, water, trees, city life, and beautiful homes.

 2. How did you get involved with Dwell Development?

My affiliation with Dwell Development started nearly 15 years ago when Anthony and I connected through mutual friends. I have been on an amazing journey with him ever since, as his real estate broker when he was designing and building homes with his brother Todd and his mother Colleen, and now as part of Dwell Development. When Anthony founded Dwell he had a vision of designing high-style modern, energy efficient homes. Our first big project was on Beacon Hill (BeHi) and it was a huge success. Anthony and architect Julian Weber designed, and Dwell Development built five fabulous modern homes. The homes were so much fun to market. We threw a fabulous grand opening party with dozens of attendees, and the homes pretty much sold over night. That was back in 2007. I love being part of such a dynamic company and have graciously been involved in upward of 100 home sales with Anthony. Moving forward we have over 25 Built Green homes either under construction or waiting to break ground around Seattle.

 3. As someone who has to be aware of housing market trends how do you feel green built homes have affected the market?

The new home industry is definitely progressing towards a Green building model and Dwell Development is a trailblazer for certified Built Green, Passive House, and Net Zero homes in the Pacific Northwest. Green built homes have helped expand the market by offering a new product that is attracting savvy buyers looking for quality homes that offer significantly lower energy costs and better indoor air quality. In addition to new construction Green homes, buyers can now search various websites for Green remodeled homes that are enrolled in the Master Builders Built Green program. King County green built policies are among the top in the nation. A high percentage of Green built homeowners want their friends and family to buy Green built homes. This is a step in the right direction to all homes eventually going Green.

4. What’s your favorite neighborhood in the city, where do you like to hangout?

Seattle is host to so many desirable and diverse neighborhoods. It is hard to choose a favorite. I live on Queen Anne, my main office is in Madison Park and I spend a lot of time in Columbia City. We are anticipating breaking ground on three Dwell homes (1 home will be targeting Net Zero) later this year in Ballard, so I will be getting better acquainted with all the popular Ballard hot spots. If I have to choose one, my new favorite neighborhood is Lake Forest Park.

 5. What makes Seattle an awesome place to buy a home?

Seattle is a vibrant city with strong economic growth and double digit appreciation in many areas over the past year. Anyone purchasing a home would be excited with the wide range of cultural activities, professional sports, and outdoor opportunities this beautiful city has to offer.

To contact Susan:

Susan Stasik, Managing Broker (206) 660-1012 (Enable Javascript to see the email address) 

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A Night With Dwell Development and Blue Frog Solar Recap


On Thursday May 15th Dwell Development and Blue Frog Solar hosted an evening of laughs, libations, and solar education for existing Dwell homeowners. All Dwell homes have been built with solar capabilities and Dwell Development would love to show you how you can have solar play a major roll in adding to the energy efficiency of your home.


Here are some major benefits of going solar:

  • Solar panels receive a 30% federal tax credit, and they are also sales tax exempt. In the State of Washington, the cost of solar equipment has come down 60% in the last two years, making solar more financially feasible than ever.
  • Solar panels add to the resale value of your home.
  • Blue Frog solar panels are made locally and support our local economy.
  • As a homeowner with solar panels you can receive up to $5,000.00 per year from your local utility company.
  • The more homes that add solar in the Seattle area, the less our region will have to rely on power from the grid.

We want to thank everyone who joined us on May 15th, and if you weren’t able to join us we would still love to talk to you about your solar options. Please contact us for a consultation and lets work together to add solar to your home.


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Eco Tip Monday-Green Roof

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Consider adding or installing a green roof. Green roofs are vegetated roof covers, with growing media and plants taking the place of shingles or tiles. Also called eco-roofs, living roofs, and roof gardens they are an innovative storm water management solution that can simultaneously improve the energy performance of buildings, air quality and urban ecology, all without taking up additional land.

A green roof system involves a special waterproof and root repellant membrane, a drainage system, filter cloth, a lightweight growing medium and plants.

Benefits of Green Roofs

▪    Reduce the volume of storm water flowing into streams and drainage channels

▪    Absorb pollutants, cool and clean rain water, decreasing thermal pollution and toxins that flow into our waterways

▪    Provide better insulation, a shaded roof surface helps to cool the building in the summer and acts a blanket to help conserve warmth in the winter.

▪    Reduce the urban “heat island” effect. On warm summer days a city can be 6-8 degrees warmer than it’s surrounding areas due to the heat it is reflecting. Green roofs cool the air by reducing solar radiation and by evapotranspiration, where plants emit water through pores in their leaves, which cools the air in the process.

▪     Help insulate from noise by reducing the sound penetrating a roof and the sound being reflected from the roof.

▪     Convert carbon dioxide from the air into oxygen that we can breath.

Provide habitat for diverse plant and animal species, including beneficial insects and songbirds

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Eco Tip Monday-Triple Pane Windows

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Dwell uses triple pane windows as a standard in all of our homes.  Though more expensive, there are a miriad of reasons why they are a better choice for new construction or replacement to your existing home.

  • Better for temperature control – Triple pane is the best approach to keeping the temperature inside your house where you want it and preventing outside air from seeping in. The triple pane can also perform this efficiently so that you see a noticeable difference on your heating and cooling bills. Triple panes of glass help your home stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. For many homeowners who live in colder climates this is the main reason to consider making the switch to the triple pane window. These stronger windows also hold up better to winds that come in at high rates of speed.
  • Noise Reduction – Believe it or not, that extra third pane of glass paired with the air or gas filled space included help with noise reduction. Most homeowners find that installing triple pane windows helps keep out much of the outside noise, or at least cuts down on the amount or volume that bleeds into the home. On the flip side, this also helps prevent noise from inside the home leak to the outside, which provides homeowners with a better sense of privacy.
  • Improved security – Anyone who works in the home security or burglar alarm business will tell you the same thing, and that is that triple pane windows help cut down on break ins. While glass is glass and triple pane is far from unbreakable, adding to the thickness certainly helps reduce the chance of a break in through one of these sturdy windows. In fact break-ins and straight up vandalism are less likely to be issues when you have triple pane as opposed to dual pane and especially single pane. Generally the locking mechanism on triple panes is a better quality too, making it difficult to use as a way to gain access to the inside of a home.
  • Other details – The resistance to common problems such as condensation is another reason to consider making the switch to triple pane windows. Condensation can become a regular occurrence on other windows, which can leads to issues with warping or rotting. Also the extra protection from UV rays can help reduce the amount of damage over time that sun can cause to the home interior such as fading of the carpet or furniture.
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Our Community Anthony Maschmedt


Our Community is a new interview series from Dwell Development that will ask some serious and some not so serious questions to the amazing humans that make our community so dynamic. From our own team to the wonderful group of people we work with to make Dwell Development the leader in green building in the greater Seattle area.

For our first installment we looked inward to our lead man Anthony Maschmedt to find out what inspired him to focus on sustainable development and where you can find him enjoying a great meal in Columbia City.

1.    Where are you from, did you grow up in the Seattle area?

I was born in Seattle before I moved to Southern California, when I was very young. We moved back to Seattle when I was about 5, and I spent most of my life growing up in Lake Forest Park. That’s where I attended elementary, middle, and high school (Shorecrest ’86) before heading off the Western Washington University to play football. I ended up graduating from the Art Institute of Seattle.

 2.    What inspired you to get into passive and sustainable housing development?

I was part of the very first Built Green Certified training program offered by the Master Builders Association. Once I understood the opportunity to build homes the “right” way, it made me want to do more. I was hungry for the knowledge of how energy efficient we could build our homes while still selling our spec-homes at market rate. Passive House is the pinnacle of how an energy efficient home should be. What inspired me in the quest to build Passive homes is quite simple. I am a very competitive person by nature. When I do anything, I want to be the best at it. So if Passive is the best, then that is all I needed to motivate me to start the journey to build the first Passive Spec House in the State of Washington in 2103. We now have three more Passive Houses on our books for 2014, and our goal is to make Passive House or Net Zero Ready homes the Dwell Standard for every home we build moving forward.

3. There’s are a lot of people that are of the mindset that sustainable or green equates to expensive; is sustainable housing more expensive than standard housing?

Yes it is more expensive, but not as much as one would think. The main thing to consider when building a Passive house or a Built Green house really comes down to just a few items. (1) Make the house airtight: We do this by installing a fluid applied air barrier on the entire exterior of the home after framing is complete and before windows go in. Once on, the house is basically waterproof and airtight. (2) Windows: high performance homes need high performance windows that will allow the heat from the sun to assist in heating the home, at the same time making sure it doesn’t leak back out. (3) Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV’s): Since we make these homes so tight, we must ventilate them right. Heat recovery units export the warm stale air in your home and bring in fresh cool air from outside. The warm air exchanges the heat with the cool air though a heat exchanger. This allows for fresh air at all times in your home, without the thermostat kicking on.       (4)Insulation: Our homes have almost double the required insulation required in the building code. This makes the home comfortable and very quiet. If we add all these additional “green” related building costs up, it usually comes to about a 5% increase in total construction costs. In my opinion, this 5% is not anything close to being considered an expensive upgrade to any new home. Add in all the value, comfort, and less energy consumption these homes need, and the payback for this cost is 1 to 2 years max.

4. Dwell has a video series that highlights the process of designing, building, and selling a passive house, and we get to hear from the buyer about their decision to purchase a passive home. How important is consumer power in creating environmental change in 2014 and beyond?

It’s important of course, but to be honest, our Dwell buyers seem to already be well ahead of the curve when it comes to buying new energy efficient homes. They do their homework, and are extremely intelligent. They do their homework long before they engage us in buying one of our homes. That being said, it takes a lot of work from us, our Real Estate Agents, the Appraisers, and anyone associated with our Green Home development to constantly blow the horn and educate all buyers on the value and unique opportunity that come with buying and living in a Built Green home by Dwell Development. The more homes we build and sell, the more environmental change happens in our community’s. From there is just grows and grows because people then get involved in living a Green lifestyle as opposed to just living in a Green home.

5. Dwell is expanding beyond Columbia City, but since it’s still home base what’s your favorite place to grab dinner and a drink in CC? Columbia City is so great.

There are a lot of great restaurants, eateries, and pubs that we go to all the time. If I were to just name a few the list would consist of the following:

Tuta Bella: for some great pizza and a beer

La Medusa: for a great glass of wine and romantic dinner with my wife.

Geraldine’s Counter: for that all day breakfast opportunity.

Lottie’s Lounge: to hang with friends at the best watering hole around.

Rookies Bar and Grill: to watch the game, eat, and socialize.

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Dwell Development + Blue Frog Solar present Solar Drinks

Dwell Development and Blue Frog Solar are teaming up for an awesome event on May 15th at Tutta Bella in Columbia City to talk about adding solar power to your home. Join us for a night of drinks, food, and conversation.

BlueFrog Dwell Event Invite 4.25.14

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Eco Tip Monday-HRV

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“When you build it tight – you must ventilate it right”

Dwell uses Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) for whole house ventilation. They save energy and improve the air quality inside of your home. HRVs are the right choice for a new, tight, energy efficient home.

A new home built to modern standards of tight construction will allow only a very small amount of outside air to leak in. But fresh air is needed to dilute the products of human habitation (cooking, cleaning, breathing, combustion, etc.) According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution levels are as much as five times higher than outdoors. Good ventilation is an important part of maintaining good indoor air quality.

Why not just open the windows? In some very mild climates, this might be a fine strategy. But in most of the United States, trying to ensure adequate air exchange defeats the energy-saving intent of a well-sealed building envelope.

HRVs use a fan to bring in outside air and another to exhaust air, balancing the amount of air in versus out.

During the heating season, warm inside air is exhausted and pulled through the heat exchanger, while a separate fan brings in cold outside air. The outside air is warmed by the heat of the exhaust air. During the cooling season, the opposite occurs.

HRVs should be used in any new, tightly sealed home. Most older houses are so leaky that they self-ventilate. Although an HRV can improve ventilation within a leaky structure, it cannot be expected to save a significant amount of energy, since the unplanned ventilation will still occur.

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