House in the Hollow Case Study

House in the Hollow Case Study

This just in and hot off the press – the House in the Hollow Case Study! TC Legend built this net-zero house through the winter of 2020/ 2021.

The house-in-a-hollow isn’t really in a hollow, it’s on a knoll, above protected wetlands, northeast of Bellingham. The hollow is formed by the trees, which were preserved to shield the house from overheating, and to conserve the flora of the native wetlands.

Measuring 1950 square feet, this Department-of-Energy certified Net Zero clerestory design has a central kitchen and a 1st floor aging-in-place floorplan. Designed for an Alaskan couple whose love of the outdoors demanded a house that fully engaged with the landscape, plenty of daylight is admitted & access to outdoor living is easy.

“Builder TC Legend Homes of Bellingham, Washington, aims for quality and sustainability in every home it constructs and company founder Ted Clifton Jr. has found the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home program is an ideal way to achieve that goal.”

“The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program is a great benchmark not only for ourselves, but for all those looking to build or purchase a home that is eco-friendly. Since the program incorporates ENERGY STAR and Indoor airPLUS, holds high standards for energy efficiency, and is nationwide, it is an easy way to compare homes across the board and that reduces confusion for purchasers,” said Clifton.

“It’s also great that the DOE program has a very low cost barrier. There are many other certification programs that charge large fees, making it difficult for small builders to participate. Or, the cost of the fees gets passed along in higher home prices, increasing the barrier to purchase for many people,” Clifton added.

Since 2015, TC Legend Homes has built all of its homes to the DOE program criteria. The builder typically constructs one spec home and five or six custom homes for buyers each year and currently has nine homes under construction. In 2022, the builder was recognized by DOE for its efforts with a Housing Innovation Grand Award in the category “Custom for Buyer under 2,500 ft2.”

Modeled Performance Data of House in the Hollow:

• HERS INDEX: without PV: 33 with PV: -23

• Annual Energy Costs: without PV: $600; with PV: $-280

• Annual Energy Cost Savings: without PV: $1,200; with PV: $2,150

• Annual Energy Savings: without PV: 8,400 kWh; with PV: 20,350 kWh

• Savings in the First 30 Years: without PV: $48,930; with PV: $86,550

Read & download the full case study HERE.

Learn more about the house build & see the the full gallery of pictures HERE.

2022 Wrap Up – TC Legend Homes Achievements & Company Culture

2022 Wrap Up – TC Legend Homes Achievements & Company Culture

As we come towards the end of 2022, which in former years Winter was our slow season, the company is still quite busy with our six houses in the queue!

The end of the year is always a great time to reflect on these past four seasons and solar cycle.

Especially 2022… this was a record breaking year for TC Legend Homes!

The crew gathered for a Holiday party last Friday at Norm’s place, and took a moment to appreciate our team’s hard work and how far we’ve come….

TC Legend Homes 2022 Achievements

  • HIA Grand Award Winner Custom Homes for Buyer (< 2500 Square Feet) – House in a Hollow
  • Built Green 5-Star Certifications on all (4) projects completed this year
  • All (4) projects received a HERS score of -8 or better
  • Sold our first Net Zero spec house- Cascade!!
  • To be featured in (2) Bellingham Alive articles
  • Hired on (2) new employees & expanding diversity in our team.
  • Took 58th Place in the 2022 Ski to Sea event and getting 4th in the Corporate Division!
  • Designer Talia hosted her first educational seminar on Embodied Carbon in the Sustainable Connections Embodied Carbon series.
  • Owner Ted was a panelist at a conference about building with panels.
  • Started offering SIPs and ICF training to contractors and eligible individuals.
  • Senna hosted two Green Energy Home Tours.
  • Started a TC record-breaking (6) projects in one year!
  • Launching a Brand New Plans for Sale website – great work Design Team!!
  • Surviving and thriving during a pandemic!
  • And the numerous days everyone went skiing together!!
  • We survived and thrived in a world pandemic with zero turn-over, while retaining our staff at their full-time hours and hourly wages (PLUS+ performance & wage raises to match the increasing cost of living). That’s a HUGE feat! Major kudos to our leadership, and rock solid team!

One of my (Senna’s) favorite things about getting the crew all together are these EPIC potlucks! The team really brings their A-game! 🙂

The team & loved ones indulged in some Spiced Egg Nog, Hot Buttered Rum, Mulled Wine… and of course, dessert!

The kiddos had fun making gingerbread houses, candles, and compostable buildings! Here are the results of the Boys vs. Girls. Which one do you like most? Not sure they are net-zero energy though.

Nicole facilitated the White Elephant gift exchange. Jeff got a bunch of worker’s pencils, Mile’s got some Mad Libs, Dan got one of Isaac’s amazing pottery chalices, Nicole won a hangover kit, Jake got some truffles (which Nicole later stole!), Senna and her son got a Christmas blanket!

A knee brace, something called a ‘Damnit Doll,’ and Fun Facts for toilet reading were some other gifts that went around!

Such a big thank you to the team, our customers, subcontractors and of course, our loved ones & SUPPORT TEAM! We couldn’t do it nearly as well without you. 🙂

From the TC Family, we send you and your loved ones our warmest regards full of peace, health, happiness, and prosperity in the coming year.

Happy Holidays!

Case Study: Cascade House

Case Study: Cascade House

This month the Cascade house sold! 

Thanks to all who came out to the Zero-Energy Home tours!

And a BIG thank you to Sustainable Connections for co-hosting! We had a great turn out both nights educating the community about what a Zero-Energy home is all about, and how it differentiates from conventional home building. 

Learn more about the embodied carbon and the utilities (calculated by Talia & Nicole) saved by this Zero-Energy House in this case study!

Zero-Energy Green Home Tours of Cascade!

Zero-Energy Green Home Tours of Cascade!

TC Legend Homes is partnering with Bellingham’s very own Sustainable Connections to host not one, but two educational Zero-Energy Green Home Tours!

The tours will take place on:

Friday, September 9th from 10am-1pm for a family friendly option,

and on Friday, September 16th from 6pm-8pm for a beer and tour option.

Both events will have an opportunity for self-guided tour and learning about the features of our new build at Cascade.

Located in Sudden Valley at 17 Cascade Ln, the roads are narrow, so we are encouraging attendees to carpool when possible.

We hope to see you there!

Impact of Eco-Conscious Living Series: Water Efficiency

Impact of Eco-Conscious Living Series: Water Efficiency

Written by: Nicole Miller

Water Efficiency

Water is often thought of as an infinite resource because of the vastness of the oceans, lakes and rivers and the great quantities of rainfall across the land.

In actuality, of all the water on this planet, less than 0.3% of it is accessible for human consumption.2 Of that 0.3% of accessible water, many regions are battling pollution in their local tap water, as well as water shortages.

In fact, in a 2014 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, “40 of 50 state water managers expected shortages in some portion of their states under average conditions in the next 10 years”1.

This is a reality that we are seeing ring true 8 years later.

Groundwater in the USA is the main source of drinking water for almost 50% of the total population and “provides over 50 billion gallons per day for agricultural needs.”4 However, as shown in Figure 1 and described by USGS in “Groundwater Decline and Depletion,” many of the USA’s largest aquifers are depleting due to the outweighed removal of water from natural replenishing4.

1 “Map of the United States (excluding Alaska) showing cumulative groundwater depletion, 1900 through 2008, in 40 assessed aquifer systems or subareas….Colors are hatched in the Dakota aquifer (area 39) where the aquifer overlaps with other aquifers having different values of depletion.”4

Although, this is not just an issue with large aquifers and the ramifications on one side of the country will inevitably affect the country as a whole, as we share resources throughout from bottled water to crops and livestock watered with local aquifers.  Not to mention, as we deplete our own resources, we are simultaneously depleting the resources for our surrounding ecosystems, which require clean water just as we do.

As with all environmental issues, there is a trickle-down effect that must be taken into consideration.

But as a society or individual, what can we do to help?

Firstly, if your local tap water is safe to drink, then choose that option before purchasing bottled water and taking away the local tap water from others. You can also install a whole-house water filter if worried about certain pollutants in the local tap water.

Secondly, opt to use a dishwasher and heated dry option instead of handwashing your dishes where applicable.3 Unless you are correctly hand washing dishes in a two-basin setup as described in Porras, Gabriela Y, et al article, it is more efficient in both greenhouse gas emissions and water usage, to use a dishwasher (with the only pre-treatment being scraping off food particles).3

Thirdly, when purchasing appliances and plumbing fixtures, only purchase those that are WaterSense® labelled. This ensures they are water efficient. Also opt for dual flush toilets if composting toilets are not an option.

Fourth, do not plant grass for landscaping and instead plant native flora that doesn’t require extra watering. If some form of grass is desired, try planting an alternative like wildflowers, clover, moss or sedum. These can give a similar visual and functional effect as grass but promote a more biodiverse ecosystem while also requiring little to no manual watering.

Lastly, if you do choose a landscape that requires manual watering, install a rain catchment system to supply the water instead of using potable water out of the hose bib. There is no reason to use clean drinking water on plants and lawns, when they will fair just fine with rainwater.

There are many other ways to increase water efficiency and reduce water consumption, however these listed are some of the easiest and best ways that you can make a difference just in your home.

At TC Legend Homes we understand the importance of water conservation through efficiency, which is why we have made it our standard to require WaterSense® labelled fixtures. We also encourage clients to landscape with only native flora and add rain catchment systems to their yard.

In actively reducing our water consumption and using water efficient solutions, we can help reduce the rate at which we are depleting the world’s accessible water, leaving more time to find a solution to the water crisis and help reverse the impact we’ve already had.

This in turn, will also reduce the impact that our water depletion is having on the ecosystems around us, as well as help reduce the inequity that comes with competition for draining resources.


“Freshwater: Supply Concerns Continue, and Uncertainties Complicate Planning.” GAO, U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2/21/22.

2 Kimberly Mullen. “Information on Earth’s Water.” NGWA, National Ground Water Association, 2/21/22.

3Porras, Gabriela Y, et al. “A Guide to Household Manual and Machine Dishwashing through a Life Cycle Perspective.” Environmental Research Communications, vol. 2, no. 2, 12 Feb. 2020.

4Water Science School. “Groundwater Decline and Depletion.” USGS, United States Geologic Survey, 2/21/22.