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Spring Hill Residence, Petaluma, CA<··· Back to projects page

The owners of The Orchard at Oakmont intends for this prototype residence to be genuinely green. This is an experiment to see how green they can go with one of their standard unit plans. The site orientation amongst available lots will be evaluated. A compact floor plan was chosen to reduce resource use. Glazing apertures and roof form will be tuned to the orientation. The unit will fit in aesthetically with the existing development. The green features are to be of an high enough level that the project will be an example of what needs to be done with local residential development the area to become a sustainable community. They also hope to receive the highest current green recognition of LEED Platinum Certification.

Each member of the design and construction team shall make their best effort to substitute elegant design and implementation for the conventional practice of profligate material and energy use. An integrated design team process will be used.

The term “green building” has come into common use and has a wide range of meanings. Our goals for this project are on the frontier of the green building movement. Our primary intent is not just to win points from green checklists but also to understand the intent behind those points. Our collaborative efforts for this project will only be successful if we meet the owner’s functional, aesthetic and budget requirements while being on the frontier of environmental responsibility. It is therefore critical that while designing and constructing each of us be ever vigilant to ways for improved environmental responsibility. Occupant behavior feedback will be provided in real time with energy and water use dashboard.

A. Study the site for solar access and microclimate to inform the building design for active and passive heating, cooling, ventilation and renewable energy.

B. Energy efficiency: Our goal if for this prototype home is to exceed CA T24 Building code Energy efficiency requirements by approximately 90% for heating, cooling, & ventilation and 75% for lighting.

C. Zero-net source energy and carbon neutral energy from renewable energy sources: Building zero-net source energy and carbon neutral energy becomes more affordable with the very high level of energy efficiency that we stated above. The following are the strategies that we will explore:

  1. Photovoltaic system will be the main source of electricity.

  2. Carbon neutral space and water heating will include solar water heating.
D. Resource efficiency We will minimize the building material and water use. We will very careful design building to eliminate unnecessary floor area and volume while achieving the owner’s functional and aesthetic goals.
  1. Building durability shall exceed code and conventional practice minimums.
    a. Structural design criteria will be to resist site-specific earthquake and windstorm potential for not just code minimum but 500 year events. This usually adds very little to the design and construction cost if the integrated design process is used.
    b. Detailing of floor slabs, roofing, flashing, exterior walls, windows, etc. shall employ best practice techniques for improved durability.

  2. Structural material efficiency shall be achieved by integrated design with early collaboration of the architect, engineer and contractor.

  3. Wood use shall be reduced by using Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) for walls and roof. SIP construction also reduces air leakage leading to improved energy efficiency.

  4. Concrete use will be kept to a minimum by exploring alternative methods and materials.

  5. Floor finish materials

    a. The need for floor finish materials can be reduced by staining or polishing and densifing the slab or concrete fill surface.
    b. Carpet should be avoided to:

    i. Improve indoor air quality
    ii. Save materials, cost, and maintenance.

  6. Roofing shall be of coated steel with the type such as standing seam or “shingles”..
    a. Steel roofing is made of recycled content steel and can be recycled at the end of the building life. Steel roofing is one of the few material choices that never need to be replaced as long as it is repainted about every 30 years.
    b. A coated steel roof is compatible with rainwater harvesting.

  7. Site hard surfaces
    a. Patios and walkways shall be surfaced with stone or pavers set on sand and have open or aggregate filled joints. This will allow some of the rainwater to percolate into the soil. The resource efficiency advantage is that the pavers maybe reused in the future.
    b. Driveway paving shall use on site aggregate if the quality is adequate. Otherwise use local aggregate but avoiding those mined from streams.

  8. Water efficiency will be achieved by:
    a. Very efficient fixtures
    b. Rainwater harvesting for irrigation and toilet flushing.
    c. Grey water irrigation.

  9. Additional items will be added as team members add their knowledge to the design intent as the project progresses.
E. Indoor Air Quality Good Indoor Air Quality is achieved by the following design and operation strategies:
  1. Natural ventilation and night cooling with high exhaust and occupant window operation in mild weather. The forced air heating system will circulate outside air per ASHRAE 62.2 when windows are closed.

  2. Low toxic emitting finishes, and cleaning/maintenance materials. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) finishes are to be avoided.

  3. Avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides that wind up tracked into the building.

  4. Pollutant source control with permanent walk-off mats at all entrances.

  5. Use of non-toxic cleaning practices and products.

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