Carefully carved into steep hillside, and set amid towering oaks, this house is first and foremost a response to the site. “An authentic response deeply rooted in the site is absolutely the first step in sustainable design for any type of project,” says Lee. The four-story home steps back into the hillside, working its way around the trees, driven by the views, and defined by the intimate relationship between indoors and out. Private and living zones are set on their own floors, every space has its own private terrace, and every window embraces views of the surrounding trees or the San Francisco skyline in the distance. A covered terrace acts as an indoor/outdoor family room off the main living level, visually and psychologically expanding the space.
Built on an infill lot close to town, the house is designed to maximize solar orientation for the photovoltaic panels, as well as passive heating and cooling. The surrounding hillside provides the lower floors with natural insulation, solar power supplies electricity and hot water, and radiant floor heating and an innovative air re-circulation system condition the interior. A whole-house automation and lighting system, LED lighting, Fleetwood super-insulated doors and windows and indigenous, drought-tolerant landscaping conserve resources.
Local availability, recycled content and sustainable production drove the selection of each material, appliance and detail – including Western Red Cedar siding, Energy Star-Rated Whirlpool appliances, Kohler low-flow plumbing fixtures, Mythic zero-VOC paints, high-recycled content interior concrete from Concreteworks, sustainably produced stone veneers from Eldorado Stone, sustainably harvested floors and cabinetry from Plantation Hardwoods and New World Millworks, reclaimed timber and recycled metal roofing. “An important part of minimizing the impact of a project involves selecting products, like Western Red Cedar, that minimize the carbon footprint from manufacture to end use,” says Mike McDonald.
Design elements crafted locally from reclaimed materials – such as hand-crafted tile from Sausalito-based Heath Ceramics and steelwork from artisan Brian Kennedy - give this project deep roots in the community, making it sustainable from a community standpoint. Every inch of this LEED Platinum custom home has been designed to maximize its sustainability, in direct response to the site, trees and views. Consequently, this home lives far larger than its actual footprint, but with an impact that is far less.