Working on long term policy change doesn’t always yield immediate results. So here at Sightline we find it especially satisfying when our ideas take physical form, as they do in a new building in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. Longtime Sightline supporter Matt Griffin’s Pine Street Group is finishing up work on Via6, a 654-unit apartment building that includes features directly inspired by Sightline.

The project has already gotten well-deserved press for its devotion to bicycling: the building features hundreds of bike parking stalls for residents and non-residents alike, plus an adjacent bike shop and locker room (with towel service), and a bakery to boot.

We love the bike elements, but what really warms our hearts are two back-to-basics features we’ve been promoting since 1997 when we published our first edition of “Seven Wonders.” Each apartment unit comes equipped with a clothesline and a ceiling fan—simple devices that deserve far more appreciation.

  • Consider the ceiling fan: even at its highest speed, it uses only one-tenth the energy as a medium-sized room air conditioner. That’s a pretty substantial energy savings given that circulating air makes a room as comfortable as one where motionless air is 9 degrees Fahrenheit colder. Meanwhile, the humble clothesline dries laundry with no energy expenditure whatsoever, a big benefit compared to the waste inherent in even the most efficient clothes dryer.

    Via6 has a whole suite of additional green features. Two in particular stand out because of their potential to transform the way residential buildings operate in the Northwest.

    • Energy dashboards. Each unit is metered individually for hot and cold water, electricity, and air conditioning. That means residents will choose exactly how much energy they want to use (and pay for), something of a rarity in multifamily buildings. Even better, each unit will get its own online energy dashboard that will enable residents to track their energy use and compare it to their neighbors’ performance. It’s a smart way to harness positive peer pressure for energy savings.
    • Rainwater capture. In the summer, Via6 will take advantage of an oversize rainwater detention tank that can hold nearly 60,000 gallons of rainwater that will be used for on-site irrigation. In the winter, the building will take advantage of a deep well located beneath the basement of the garage. Rather then send excess runoff into the expensive and overburdened municipal treatment system, the well infiltrates rainwater back into the ground, disposing of stormwater the natural way.

    Via6 is not the greenest building under construction in Seattle—that honor belongs to another Sightline supporter—but the project developers deserve recognition for their innovation. We’re proud to have contributed some of our ideas to their efforts.