Built Green Conference Recap

Earlier this Fall our Lead Accountant, Adrienne Kaylor, had the opportunity to attend the ‘Built Green’ conference in Everett, WA. We’d like to tell you about this amazing experience!

Built Green “is the holistic green home certification program of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish counties” (in WA state). They certify various ‘green’ building projects and cultivate a network of companies involved in the green building industry. You can read more about Built Green here. We at Joy Accounting were all excited for Adrienne to attend this conference because we enjoy learning about ideas that can help the health of our communities and planet, and building is certainly a big part of “going green”. Below are some highlights from the event.

Keynote Speaker: Alex Steffan, Planetary Futurist

With a title like ‘Planetary Futurist’, Alex Steffan is destined to give interesting talks. He did not disappoint.

Alex gave a fascinating talk on how the future of our planet ties directly to the building of our cities. He explained that as the world gets hotter, the more unstable it becomes; this causes a loss of predictability.

Cities need to become more ruggedized (designed or improved to be hard-wearing or shock-resistant) to survive this instability, and that’s expensive. Our cities are built based on predictability, making it difficult for infrastructure laws & practices to keep up with the changing planet. Alex said that by 2050, 70% of the world will be living in cities, making it all the more important to prioritize sustainability in building.

Breakout Session: ADU’s – Innovative and Affordable Density

Mike Hinrichsen and Robert Humble presented their knowledge of building ADU’s and DADU’s (accessory dwelling units and detached accessory dwelling units) and how they can be a creative solution to the housing shortage we are facing in the Seattle area.  

On July 1st, 2019, the city of Seattle adopted a new to encourage D/ADU’s. The new bill relaxes the land use rules, making it easier for homeowner’s to legally fit a D/ADU on their properties.

Mike explained the benefits of building these micro dwellings which included saving for retirement, aging in place, and adding long-term value to your property. Robert touched on design elements that make for a great D/ADU such as having a private separate entry, access to grade, functional storage, and having flexible/adaptive spaces within the unit. They also pointed out that you don’t have to pay a premium for green building with a D/ADU.

Breakout Session: Successful Air Barriers – Today, Tomorrow, and in Your Future

Before this session, we didn’t understand what an ‘air barrier’ was or why it is important to the health of a building. After Tom Schneider, Tadashi Shiga, and Dan Whimore shared their expertise and experience with air barriers in relation to passive house energy levels, our eyes were opened!

‘Passive House’ means your building is very well-insulated with an air-tight design that minimizes energy inefficiencies. Washington state energy code will reach passive house levels of energy efficiency by 2031. This shift means the permeability of your air barrier is of the utmost importance during the building process and should be prioritized on site.

Tom shared a ‘path to success’ that includes hiring a designated air sealing specialist, ensuring the air barrier is continuous through all building sections, scheduling pre-construction meetings, creating mock-ups, and planning for quality control.

Update on Washington’s Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) Program

At the beginning of this year, Washington state implemented the first stage of the Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) program. As of January 1st, 2019, employers are required to withhold PFML premiums from employee’s paychecks and remit these premiums to the Employment Security Department on a quarterly basis. The premiums are .4% of wages; note that businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not required to submit the employer portion of the premiums (unless they desire to qualify for small business assistance grants).

In the event an employee needs to take time off and uses their PFML, employers who voluntarily pay the employer premium will be eligible to apply for grants that can help cover the costs incurred when an employee take leave. You can read more about the small business assistance grants here.

However – at this time, the PFML reporting site is not set up to calculate and receive the optional employer-paid premiums from small businesses. Further, when the site is working, the state will be receiving employer premiums from that point forward and NOT from previous quarters already reported.

If you were expecting to remit the optional employer-paid premiums for your 1st and 2nd quarter wages, it would be a good idea to check with your payroll processor or accountant to verify what was remitted for those reports. Also, you can call the Paid Family & Medical Leave customer care line at 833-717-2273 for more information.