Built on the edge of a bluff a mile away from the Pacific Ocean, this new LEED for Homes project, with a primary house and guest house, enjoys numerous ocean views.
The owners felt very fortunate to be able to build on such a beautiful site and wanted to proceed in a conscientious manner and “do the right thing”. After learning about the LEED for Homes rating system from their designer, they decided to register this project for certification. Their intent was to use the LEED system as a guideline and feedback loop for making decisions about the project. With the project complete, the LEED rating is currently in the final stages of processing.
Part of the sense of place that these houses exude is the use of local materials. Foundations are faced with stone from a local quarry, and the interior doors and trim are made from recycled 100+ year old timbers salvaged from a rail bridge next to a local lumber mill. Douglas fir, Redwood and Madrone, indigenous species in the area, are used extensively throughout the project.
The houses are constructed of structural insulated panels (SIP) that have a solid core of polystyrene foam insulation bonded to oriented strand board (OSB) on each face. This type of construction is very well insulated, air tight and strong.
The heating system and domestic hot water are both supplied by a ground-source heat pump. This system extracts heat from the earth through 200 ft. deep wells. The heat pump compresses this heat, raising the temperature high enough to provide heat and hot water for both structures.
The ground-mounted PV system, which is tied to the electrical grid, is designed to provide all the required electricity for the project. Monitoring of the electrical production from the PV system, as well as use of various electrical circuits, will help guide the owners toward their net-zero goal.
With building shells that are as high-performance as this, a dedicated fresh-air system is a must. A mechanical ventilation system provides a continuous supply of fresh outdoor air, pre-warmed by interior exhaust air through a device called a heat recovery ventilator. This provides fresh air without the discomfort and energy penalty of cold winter air coming into the house.
Being a rural property, its water source is a local creek that is sometimes challenged toward the end of the summer. The owners did not want to depend on or overly tax that system but still wanted to irrigate their new landscaping. While mostly native species were used in the landscaping, watering these plants will help them get started and keep them lush throughout the year. To provide for this landscape irrigation, rainwater is collected from a portion of the metal roof and diverted to a 20,000 gallon catchment system that will be used to irrigate the landscape during dry summer months.