Net Zero Energy Co-Housing

Net Zero Energy Co-Housing

Net Zero Energy Co-Housing

Written by: Nicole Miller

We are excited to announce our Net Zero Energy Co-Housing spec project that’s currently
under construction!

Titled “Woburn House” on our social media, this 5-bedroom home is
intended to house multiple family units and has an accessible first-floor bedroom and bathroom.
Our hope is for this to be a multigeneration home creating a small, tight-knit community.

As always, this home will create its own power, leaving the residents with zero electric bills. We
also anticipate it will receive Built Green 5-Star, Indoor AirPlus, EnergyStar, and Zero Energy
Ready Home certifications.

Once completed, this home will be open for lease or purchase!

Addressing Middle Housing Concerns

Addressing Middle Housing Concerns

Addressing Middle Housing Concerns

Written by: Nicole Miller

Are you concerned about what the addition of middle housing is going to do to your neighborhood? Are you concerned about it changing the character of the houses, or make your street too busy? Maybe you are all for middle housing but just don’t want it near you. Or maybe you have no idea what middle housing is.

In this article we will explore what middle housing is and what it can look like, along with the impacts it can have on a neighborhood.

Photo Credit: Opticos Design

What is middle housing?

So, what is middle housing anyways? The WA Department of Commerce defines middle housing as “house-scale buildings with multiple units in residential neighborhoods.” That means, any housing structure that is any kind of -plex housing like a duplex or triplex, townhouses, courtyard apartments, cottage homes. “Middle” refers to middle-density housing, as opposed to large apartment complexes which are considered high-density housing, and single-family homes which is considered low-density.

What does middle housing look like?

You may still be thinking, “Well, I certainly don’t want a fourplex in my neighborhood! It’s going to stick out like a sore thumb.” Which is an understandable opinion, especially if you’ve only ever seen -plexes that look like your typical apartment complex. But they don’t have to look like that.

With the changing needs of our population, large single-family homes are becoming more and more unnecessary and unaffordable for most people (see our last blog on the statistics). But also we don’t want to tear down beautiful historic homes, or homes that are generally in good condition. So, what about renovating the inside of these preexisting 2000+ square foot homes and splitting them into multiple single- or two-bedroom units, thereby creating a -plex house? It still keeps the same exterior integrity, matching the rest of the neighborhood and you won’t even be able to tell that there are multiple units inside. A scenario like this is also the best case in terms of carbon footprint, because you are utilizing and revitalizing the entire shell and bones of a house.

Photo Credit: Everett Middle Housing Resources

These inconspicuous -plex housing can be easily built in new construction as well. When you looked at the above photo, did you know that it was six-plex just looking at the exterior?

In some areas, lots are already laid out in a way that makes housing options like cottage homes even easier to hide. Take a look at the below cottage community built in Silverdale, Washington. Add some foliage along the perimeter, and you would never know it was hidden on the lot.

Photo Credit: Chico Beach Cottages – Silverdale, WA; The Cottage Company & Wenzlau Architects

Part of what will make middle housing successful is utilizing the correct types for each area. The idea is not to plop a giant multi-plex that looks like an apartment complex in the middle of a quaint neighborhood. That doesn’t make sense for anyone. But it does make sense to put a larger multi-plex on the edge of the neighborhood abut the commercially zoned areas and on busy corners. The point is to put density nearest to the city resources.

Photo Credit: Washington State Department of Commerce

Photo Credit: Washington State Department of Commerce

Middle housing and parking

Perhaps you’re concerned about more vehicles on the roads in your neighborhood, either parking on the streets or causing traffic?

Summarized by Sightline Institute, as it stands right now, the law “cap[s] mandates at no more than one parking stall per lot on lots 6,000 square feet or smaller, and at no more than two stalls per lot on lots larger than that.” And any middle housing that is within a half-mile of a major transit stop will not be subjected to any parking mandates.

But what does this mean for you? Firstly, the point of creating such high-density housing near commercial areas and transit, is to also reduce the need for individual vehicles. When a community is walk-able and transit is readily available, less people will have cars. We are also seeing more households reducing to only one car instead of two. Take Seattle for example, whose population is ever increasing but their overall car population has remained stable for the past several years.

Photo Credit: Washington State Department of Commerce & Opticos Design

Now, for the lots that will mandate parking, if we are looking at what most likely is going to end up in your neighborhood, a duplex, triplex, fourplex or six-plex, that means they will be required to have two, three, four or six parking spaces respectively. For a duplex and even triplex, that’s not going to be more parking than a typical single-family home already has in many cases. And looking at the site plan above from Opticos Design, the parking spots can be easily hidden from street view. Fourplexes and six-plexes will be in a similar boat, where parking could potentially be hidden, or it may end up right off the street. And while that won’t be as nice to look at, think about how many houses have garages and driveways already at the front of the house. It won’t be out of place to have that much flatwork. Moreover, because of the required parking spaces, there isn’t likely going to be more vehicles parked on the street, as the households moving into the middle housing are typically smaller and therefore won’t have multiple cars.

Overall, the number of extra vehicles on the road is going to quite minimal taking all of the above into account. So there isn’t anything to worry about when it comes to cars.


If you are still thinking, “Well, who would even WANT to live in these?” Just remember that not every type of housing is for every person, but there is a market for every type of housing you could think of, whether it’s something you, personally, would want to live in or not. And with housing being as expensive and unaffordable to purchase these days as it is, there are many people who just want something they can afford and put equity into that meets their minimum needs. Which middle housing can do, while increasing many people’s quality of life. Middle housing a crucial step towards ensuring younger and older generations alike have reliable housing.

As housing-for-everyone advocates, TC Legend Homes and Powerhouse Designs strives to educate the public on these important issues while providing healthy, net-zero, carbon neutral budget homes in a effort to not only help the housing crisis, but provide top-performing homes.

To further discuss middle housing and the path forward for our community, or to get started on your very own project, contact us today!

Featured in the Northern Lights: Point Whitehorn net-zero home constructed with efficient features

Featured in the Northern Lights: Point Whitehorn net-zero home constructed with efficient features

Written by: Senna Scott

Our Point Whitehorn net-zero home was featured in @TheNorthernLight Blaine & Birch Bay’s Community Newspaper!

“Nestled adjacent to wetlands and with views of Birch Bay State Park, TC Legend Homes’ Point Whitehorn house is not your average house. The home has a 7.2kW photovoltaic system – the conversion of light into electrical energy – and is built in a highly efficient envelope, setting it up to be a net-zero energy house in Birch Bay.”

You can learn about our cost-saving measures and design challenges by reading the full article online >> HERE <<

Plans-for-Sale Powerhouse Designs Website is Now LIVE

Plans-for-Sale Powerhouse Designs Website is Now LIVE

Plans-for-Sale Powerhouse Designs Website is Now LIVE

Written by: Senna Scott

You asked and we listened!

We are so excited to announce that our Plans for Sale website in now officially LIVE!

Our Design team, Powerhouse Designs, have been working tirelessly at rendering our old & new plans, and working out the bugs back end to make a smooth purchasing experience!

Know of anyone looking to build a net-zero energy home? They can now skip the design phase by purchasing one of our plan-sets and get to building! Saving them thousands on design and getting to shovel-ready even quicker! If local to Bellingham, TC Legend Homes has availability for 2024 – 2025 home builds!

Powerhouse Designs now offers consultation and design services on purchased plans, helping you to customize the plans for your needs! Consultation slots are purchasable on the website.

In addition, Powerhouse Designs now offers NEW SERVICES!

  • Embodied Carbon Calculations
  • Built Green Certification Consultation 
  • Net-Zero Design Consultation 

Are you looking to calculate your carbon footprint or apply for a certification? Are you a contractor that needs to outsource this work for your clients or need support on making your plans more green? Our staff at Powerhouse Designs now offers Embodied Carbon Calculation Consultations, Built Green Certification and Net-Zero Design Consultation services!

Obtaining Built Green certifications and implementing Embodied Carbon calculations have become a rapidly changing part of the industry. Our team has been up-to-speed and pioneering this process! They will walk you step by step through the process for a stress-free experience! 

Check our Plans-for-Sale website HERE!

Impact of Eco-Conscious Living Series: Energy Efficiency

Impact of Eco-Conscious Living Series: Energy Efficiency

Impact of Eco-Conscious Living Series: Energy Efficiency

Written by: Nicole Miller

There are many ways to achieve energy efficiency in a home, from using energy efficient products like Energy Star appliances or energy efficient windows, to designing your home with passive heating and cooling in mind.

While energy efficiency can mean lower utility bills, the results also have a great impact on the environment. Unless you are using solely renewable energy to run your house, the energy you use will be produced mostly from coal and natural gas in the majority of the USA.

In Washington state, while energy is mainly generated from hydro-electric, ~15% is still produced using fossil fuels.3 Energy derived from these fossil fuels produce greenhouse gases as well other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter.2 According to the EPA, 31% of the total CO2 emitted by the USA in 2019 came from fossil fuel combustion for energy production and accounted for 24% of the total greenhouse gas emission in the USA.1

Greenhouse gases are the main contributor to climate change, as they trap heat in our atmosphere and raise global temperatures. Climate change is not to be disregarded as it is already having major implications across the globe and will continue to have even more extreme impacts to come if we don’t stop it. If you want to learn more about climate change and its effects, visit

While we know that fossil fuel use is an obvious bad choice, Hydroelectric, while considered a renewable and generally “eco-friendly” energy option, is not as environmentally friendly as we like to think as well.

While there are plenty of debates within the environmental community on what the “best” renewable energy production method is, the facts are that none of them are perfect and all of them produce some kind of pollution or harmful effects. Looking at hydroelectric as an example, the renewable energy requires a massive amount of concrete to make the dams, while concrete is known to be a huge greenhouse gas emitter. Dams also have disastrous effects on the health of the rivers and the surrounding ecosystem, including our salmon populations which are a keystone species. Not to mention the people that get displaced due to the reservoir that’s created. Then when a dam breaks, it causes even more damage downstream as it tears apart the ecosystem and towns that has grown in the absence of the natural river. 

All of this is to say, that in order to lessen our impacts on the environment, we have to lessen our energy consumption and choose which energy source we use wisely. In the instance of TC Legend Home’s net zero homes that utilize solar energy, with less overall energy usage, less solar panels will be needed on your array, saving precious materials needed to produce the panels themselves.

This will lessen your house’s overall energy carbon footprint. On the other hand, if you are producing more energy than your house consumes, then the excess electricity produced will transfer onto the grid for others to use, thereby reducing the amount of fossil fuels used by someone else. Of course, the local energy company may also reimburse you for this addition as well. 

At TC Legend Homes, in order to build highly energy efficient homes, we take a few different approaches.

Firstly, in the design of the home drafted up by our design company, Powerhouse Designs, we place the mechanical room in a central location and plan ahead to add extra space for the HRV air ducting that traditional HVAC systems don’t need.

TC Legend’s houses are designed to allow for passive solar heating in the winter and solar shade in the summer, cutting down on the need for the heating/cooling system. Instead of a traditional leaky envelope, TC utilizes high efficiency windows, SIPs and ICFs paired with aerobarrier aerosol sealant to create a super tight envelope, keeping the heated and cooled air in.

For heating, cooling and domestic hot water, TC opts for high efficiency heatpumps such as those from the Chiltrix line. For ventilation the Fantech Hero HRV is the choice as it’s also incredibly efficient. In the selection phase, TC requires appliances be Energy Star rated and lighting be LED. All of this in combination allows us to build exceptionally energy efficient, Energy Star certified homes, cutting back on the home’s energy carbon footprint. 

Want to learn more about our energy efficient designs and net-zero energy formula? Check out our Plans For Sale website to see available plans for purchase!


1“Overview of Greenhouse Gases.” United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),, 2/14/22.

2“What is Energy Efficiency?.” Energy Star, 2/14/22

3“Profile Analysis.” U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA),,