Greenhouse designs emphasize green ideals

  • By Amy Watkins HBJ Freelance Writer
  • Tuesday, May 28, 2013 1:48pm

EVERETT — Three original greenhouse designs are winners in a competition organized by the SnoLeaf Branch Collaborative of Cascadia Green Building Council.

The Big Green Greenhouse Design Competition involved designing a net-zero energy, water and waste greenhouse. The 3,000-square-foot greenhouse design also couldn’t contain toxic materials, had to include public meeting space and needed to enhance and extend the growing season in the north Puget Sound region.

The competition rules were based on the Living Building Challenge, a green building certification program created by the International Living Future Institute. Living buildings must also be located on previously developed sites, such as brownfields, where reuse is complicated by soil contaminants.

“It’s a real challenge,” said Fawn Clark, a spokeswoman for the SnoLeaf Branch Collaborative. “All of the winning designs come from the United States and that says a lot because we did have some phenomenal designs from outside of the country.”

The competition began in November and ended on March 31. The top three winning designs were selected by a panel of six jurors and announced on May 15 at The International Living Future un-Conference in Seattle.

The first place design, The Looper, was submitted by a team of 11 people from RTKL Associates in Washington, D.C. The Looper repurposes a river barge into a greenhouse that collects, uses, filters and returns water to a river system to grow plants and fish.

“This team thought out of the box of what a brownfields site was,” said Lauri Strauss, a steering committee member of the SnoLeaf Branch Collaborative. “They also have contaminated rivers on the East Coast, so their idea was they could put it anywhere.”

The [NPK] house is the second-place winner and was designed by a three-person team from Lando and Associates, Landscape Architecture in Portland, Ore. The greenhouse was designed to provide a three-season harvest. Although the design is simple, this submission was “the most well thought out,” Strauss said.

The third-place winner, Growing Postal, was designed by a pair of students from Seattle. The design reflects a joint venture between the U.S. Postal Service and a local food bank farm. Post office space that is in danger of being sold or downsized would be used for a greenhouse and the food grown there would be delivered to clients through a door-to-door mail service.

“Growing Postal was just such a catchy design and brilliant idea,” Strauss said.

The grand prize was $7,500 while second prize received $3,000 and third place earned $1,500. The winning designs are set to be displayed June 7-9 at Sorticulture, a garden arts festival at Legion Memorial Park in Everett, and throughout the summer at Everett, Snohomish and Everett Mall farmers markets.

The SnoLeaf Branch Collaborative wants to see one of the designs built in Snohomish County, Strauss said.

“Our thought in the next year is to talk about it and promote it,” she said. “We’d like to get a team of people together who would like to build one.”

Learn more

To learn more about the winning greenhouse designs, visit the SnoLeaf Branch Collaborative of Cascadia Green Building Council website at

Talk to us