Seattle-based high-performance builder Dwell Development's marketing strategy helped triple its sales, even pre-selling homes for 20 to 25 percent more than their competitors during the valley of the Great Recession.
But how did they do it? According to Charlie Wardell, Dwell's focus on creating a disciplined local brand around substance, rather than aesthetics--a high-performance ethos, and modern architecture. Company principal Anthony Maschmedt says that even though energy savings and sustainable amenities "tend to clinch the deal," design is the hook. "A badly designed house won't be easier to sell just because it's energy efficient," he tells The Energy & Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA). "You have to put design first. That's what gets people out of the car and into the house. Then you need to make the interior as architecturally interesting as possible."
Maschmedt says Dwell has built more than 300 homes over the past 14 years, all of them detailed to perform at least 50 percent above energy code at the time of construction. The company also built the first multifamily Passive House in Seattle and just broke ground on the city's first Passive House condo. Today, all of its projects are Net Zero Ready: when outfitted with solar panels, those panels will generate more power over the course of a year than the home consumes.
Dwell has won 30 awards for its homes since 2012. These include awards for design and performance, and range from a 2018 U.S. Department of Energy Housing Innovation Award to a Professional Builder Design Award.