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TC Legend Homes—The Resilient Samish Solar Home

Vital Stats



Location: Bellingham
Star Level: 5-Star, NZE
Checklist: 2021 Single Family/Townhome New Construction

Verifier: Ecoe Company LLC
Builder: TC Legend Homes
Designer: Powerhouse Designs

Site and Water 148
Energy Efficiency 148
Health and Indoor Air Quality 134
Material Efficiency

Equity and Social Justice


  Total Score 687


Sitting on a stunning 5-acre lot nestled into the woods and surrounded by wildflowers and berries, the Samish Solar Home is a resilient oasis for a growing family of mountain bikers and nature enthusiasts.

This 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath, 2,345 square foot single family residence was built for a young family in Bellingham, Washington. The primary goal of this home was to serve as the owner’s permanent residence, even as their needs change over time, while adding a layer of resiliency towards our changing climate. The home was designed to support a growing family, temporary or permanent aging parents, a home office, and ample storage for outdoor recreation gear in the 1,936 square foot garage. Samish Solar home also features an additional sunroom on the south side of the house to enjoy the sunshine year-round.

Sunroom, exterior

The home is built using a post and beam structural system in addition to structural insulated panel (SIP) exterior walls and roof. The double-height, vaulted ceilings in the living room provide excellent daylighting for current use, but a floor system and internal walls could be added in the future to transform this 4-bedroom home into a 5- or 6-bedroom home.

Living room, interior with loft

Sustainable Envelope & Mechanical Details

Working in conjunction with the graphite infused SIP walls and roof (R-29 and R-59 respectively), triple pane Vinyltek windows, an R-20 insulated slab-on-grade foundation and R-23.6 ICF foundation walls help complete the envelope of Samish Solar Home. Due to the sandwich design of SIPs, the envelope of the project started out very airtight, however in order to push the tightness even further and achieve an ACH of 0.27, Aerobarrier aerosol sealant was used to complete the air sealing. This project also features the tried-and-true TC Legend Homes HVAC model combining a Chiltrix CX-34, Fantech Hero 250, and rooftop solar. The CX-34 heat pump unit provides both domestic hot water and space heating/cooling through a zoned radiant hydronic system on the first floor and a fan coil unit on the second. These superior insulated materials coupled with our HVAC system and tight envelope create this high efficiency and high-performance home.

HVAC System
Home interior, top of stairs over living room

Climate Change Resiliency

With significant south facing windows and shading eaves, this home takes advantage of passive solar heating and cooling, which will help regulate the home’s temperature as summer and winter temps become more extreme. The triple pane, argon-filled windows also help to create a better barrier to the extreme outdoor temperatures. Since the roof will take the brunt of the solar heat, Cool Roof certified metal sheeting was installed to further prevent the home from overheating in the summer by increasing the albedo. The Fantech Hero 250 HRV provides the home with a constant flow of fresh air filtered through its built in HEPA filtration. This home maintains healthy indoor air quality even at the height of wildfire season, providing a safe haven for its occupants, friends, and family. The biggest resiliency feature of this home is the 28,000 gallon rainwater catchment system that supplies water for the fire suppression system and domestic water. The rainwater is filtered through a sediment filter, activated carbon filter, and UV filter to ensure it is fit for domestic use. The catchment system, which was required due to site water availability limitations, was significantly upsized in order to add resiliency. With the understanding that significant periods of drought are likely in the future, the larger catchment system will ensure adequate domestic water for the home and provide self-sufficiency in the future. Low-flow and water sense labeled plumbing fixtures also help to reduce water demands. The homeowners also opted to upsize the rooftop solar array to a 10.8kw system with Enphase microinverters. The solar system is battery ready for future resiliency additions and provides the home with more power than it needs, making the project net positive and allowing the owners to power an electric vehicle in the future. There is also plenty of roof area where additional solar could be installed if energy needs of the home change in the future.

Exterior, Silo
Electric vehicle charing port


In designing this home, it was important to the client that we future proof for aging parents who may need to utilize mobility aids and to ensure they, themselves, can grow old in the home. This meant designing with the essential spaces, such as the laundry room and kitchen, located on the first floor. All of the doorways were also widened to 3’ and the first-floor shower was made curbless to help ensure this home is functional in all phases of the owners’ lives. The unheated breezeway between the house and garage provides a central, stepless entry point and protection from the elements. This space also serves as a shoe removal area with a built-in bench and coat storage. At both the main entry and side entry, a stepless large, covered patio was installed, which can serve as a fantastic gathering area for everyone without any limitations. Lastly, in a less conventional form of accessibility, Powerhouse Designs will be adding Samish Solar Home’s premade plans to their website so others can build this home with a lower upfront design cost.

Interior, Bathroom
Interior, breezeway

Embodied Carbon

Our team conducted embodied carbon calculations on this project using the BEAM tool to assess the material emissions of the house and sunroom. The material carbon intensity was modeled at 141kg CO2e/m^2 which is better than average on the BEAM reporting convention. Emissions data calculated on this project helps to inform the TC Legend Home’s model moving forward, guiding material switches to reduce future project emissions.

Built Green highlights:

Site and Water

  • All plumbing fixtures are WaterSense certified
  • 3.3 acres of Wetlands on property untouched
  • 28,000 gallon rainwater catchment system


  • Net-positive energy using a 10.8 kW PV array
  • HERS Score = -20
  • Passive solar design
  • DOE Zero-Energy Ready certified
  • Energy Star certified
  • All electric home
  • Energy efficient envelope using SIP walls & roof, ICF & insulated slab on grade
  • Chilltrix air-to-water heat pump for heaintg & cooling with zonal controls
  • Triple-paned Vinyltek Windows (U-values = 0.16-0.17)
  • EV charging ports

Health and Indoor Air Quality

  • Indoor AirPLUS certified
  • 0.27 ACH achieved with SIPs and Aerobarrier
  • Fantech HRV with HEPA filtration
  • Built-in humidity, temperature, and CO2 sensors, plus additional Awair IAQ monitor which measures CO2, humidity, VOC's, particulate matter and temperature
  • Designated shoe removal and storage area at breezeway entrance
  • All Low-VOC paints, adhesives and sealants
  • No carpet

Materials Efficiency

  • Graphite SIPS walls & ceilings
  • Interior walls advanced framed
  • Leftover materials moved to next project
  • 80% of waste by weight hauled to recycling facility
  • Embodied Carbon calculated
  • GreenGuard Gold certified hardwood flooring
  • Solid wood, domestically grown trim & interior doors
  • Locally made solid cherry cabinets
  • Locally produced Vinyltek windows

Equity & Social Justice

  • Establish a project-specific ESJ plan prior to construction
  • Stepless front entry and side entry
  • Stepless outdoor gathering areas
  • Designed for aging-in-place, including a stepless shower, as well as laundry on the first floor
  • All doors on the first floor are 3’ wide
  • All doors utilize lever-style handles

Photo credit: John Trax

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