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The Issaquah Press
Issaquah, Washington
January 14, 2009     The Issaquah Press
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January 14, 2009
 

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B5 THE ISSAQUAH PRESS HOME& GARDEN a WEDNESDAY JANUARY 149 2009 Zero-energy home features a livint,00 wall of compost BY DAVID HAYES onna Shirey, like many people, often wondered what happened to all that stuff that gets recy- cled, particularly the garbage, lawn trimmings and other miscellaneous mulch. "Well, you can sell some to the Shirey house and build a living wall with it," she said. As president and CEO of the Is- saquah business Shirey Contract- ing, Donna and her husband Riley have long been advocates of "green" building. They discovered the services of Cedar Grove Corn- posting fit nicely into their concept for a "zero energy" house. The Shireys have long owned some property along the western shores of Lake Sammamish, where they are now building their ultimate in green concepts. Essen- tially, it's a residence that com- bines on-site power generation with other measures to rduce en- ergy needs. Among such amenities as photo- voltaic solar panels, a wind turbine, vegetated roof and structural insu- lated paneling, is the living wall. Rather than construct an ugly, single-purpose wall made only of concrete at the edge of their drive- way, the Shireys called upon the services of Cedar Grove Compost- ing to help build a wall of compost. A commercial composter, Cedar Grove has exclusive contracts to receive the "green" organic waste King County collects from homes and businesses. According to Cedar Grove Corn- posting sales manager Jamie Burke, the process has actually been around in other parts of the country for a while and is ex- tremely popular in British Colum- bia, Canada, roadside projects. Large, fiber socks, created by a third company, Implied Organics, are filled with the composting ma- terial. Structural fill is added to make them more structurally sound and a mesh is wrapped around them to keep them in place. The process is repeated un- til there are six socks stacked up. The effect is similar to a landscap- ing keystone wall or boulder wall. Burke said a test wall was built at Cedar Grove Composting's Maple Valley site to ensure its ef- fectiveness, difficulty and diversity. The eight rows, or lifts, of socks are each 18 inches in diameter and are 18 feet long. A total of 20 yards of compost was used to fill all the socks. A smaller 12-inch sock is used for erosion control. "You then poke a hole in the side, place the seeds, and plants grow," Donna Shirey said. Burke said the method the Shireys chose is but one way to take for growing living material out of the wall. "The beauty of the living wall is you can also seed it before instal- lation and get immediate germina- tion," Burke said. Instead of an unsightly, blank concrete wall there is a beautiful structure made from living mate- rial adding to the natural setting on the Shireys' property. The wall also serves a second purpose, she said. In addition to the aesthetic, it serves as a filter for runoff water heading toward Lake Sammamish. "We have a water collecting sys- tem that feeds the drip irrigation that waters the wall," she said. "The wall then holds back silt with harmful materials that would have naturally flowed to Lake Sam- mamish." Burke added that Cedar Grove placed composting blankets on the construction site and a filter sock every 50 feet to prevent erosion and slow runoff into the lake. "With the heavy rains we just had, the composting proved to be a good example of handling storm water," Burke said. Construction on their zero en- ergy home began in August and C ONTRIBUTED The first row of the 18-inch compost-filled sock is installed (left). Row eight is complete (above), including a finished geogrid wrap. the Shireys hope to have it com- plete by April, when they plan to open it for public tours. "It's geared toward consumers as a high performance house," she said. As advocates of green construc- tion techniques, the Shireys hope their home inspires others to in- corporate such eco-friendly inno- vations as the living wall into their future residential plans. Burke said she suspects with the interest generated with the proj- ect, by this time next year, living walls will be standard practice. "It's a great use of recycled ma- terial, especially for our region, where it has become more and more important for residents who prefer to build green," she said. Reach Reporter David Hayes at 392-6434, ext. 237 or dhayes@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquah- press, com. Patrick Shockley A trusted community agent since 1977 Finding the right home is hard... Finding the right homeowners insurance is easy. Mike's llauling S Tractor Work See State Farm Agent: Kathy Johnson [,.o..'] 392-2224 Gilman Station Issaquah KATHY.J OH NSON. 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