Sustainability development becomes salmon-friendly

November 5, 2010

By Tim Pfarr

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Trails at Newcastle, a sustainability-oriented development to be built east off Coal Creek Parkway between Southeast 79th Street and 135th Avenue Southeast, has become the first development in the state to earn Salmon-Safe Residential Development Certification.

Seattle-based nonprofit Stewardship Partners — which works in conjunction with Oregon-based nonprofit Salmon-Safe — gives the distinction in Washington.

Ben Kaufman, owner of GreenWorks Realty, which will construct the development, said the certification is indicative of overarching sustainable practices, as the health of salmon is indicative of the health of the entire ecosystem.

“I’m honored that this project was chosen,” Kaufman said. “We’ve been working on this a long time.”

Kaufman said the development is close to breaking ground, and it will either do so later this fall or next spring.

Stewardship Partners historically awarded salmon-safe certifications to farms, fruit orchards and wineries. However, it began its trek into residential certifications with the Newcastle development.

Through the certification process, the nonprofit organization examined site design as well as the project’s development and management practices. It ensured these practices protected water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and overall watershed health. These standards exceed federal regulations.

Stewardship Partners specifically recognized Trails at Newcastle for protecting open space and streams; conserving water through the use of drought-tolerant plants; not using pesticides or fertilizers; and treating storm water on site by using rain gardens, pervious surfaces and other infiltration systems that prevent runoff of polluted water.

Brenda Nunes, community developer with GreenWorks Realty, emphasized educational opportunities associated with the certification, as GreenWorks can partner with the nonprofits on advertising campaigns promoting sustainability.

She said Salmon-Safe in particular is known for effectively combining humor with its advertisements.

“When it comes to public education, if you make people laugh, they remember,” Nunes said.

However, she said GreenWorks has already started its educational campaigns. Last spring, it invited engineering students from the University of Washington to the Trails at Newcastle site for a lesson. During the summer, it volunteered Trails at Newcastle to be the subject of a project for construction marketing students at Renton Technical College.

GreenWorks also teaches courses about sustainable development to real estate agents.

Nunes said GreenWorks hopes to use Trails at Newcastle to educate high school students next year.

“We really want to build on what we’ve done and educate,” she said. “It’s so much more than just doing 32 homes. We want it to have a big impact on the whole community.”

Trails at Newcastle has been in the planning stages for more than six years.

The site on which it will be built is 6.4 acres, but one-third of the property is protected wetlands. The development will include 32 homes centered on a pedestrian walkway and will offer parking on the property’s periphery, according to the development’s website.

The homes, 4-star “Built Green” energy-efficient cottages, will range in price from about $350,000 to about $600,000. Individual units will be between 1,300 square feet and 2,100 square feet in size, but it may also offer smaller units that are about 800 square feet.

Residents will share a community organic garden and common house with a multipurpose room for gatherings.

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