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Project Green Home / Palo Alto, Calif.

  • A 5-kW PV array, set at the rear of the roof to avoid shading from street trees, is designed to bring the house to net-zero energy and charge an electric car. The system includes micro inverters, rather than the standard single large inverter, to minimize temporary shading effects from clouds. Its estimated to increase energy production by 15% and reduce the required number of PV panels on the roof.

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    A 5-kW PV array, set at the rear of the roof to avoid shading from street trees, is designed to bring the house to net-zero energy and charge an electric car. The system includes micro inverters, rather than the standard single large inverter, to minimize temporary shading effects from clouds. Its estimated to increase energy production by 15% and reduce the required number of PV panels on the roof.

    Edward Caldwell

    A 5-kW PV array, set at the rear of the roof to avoid shading from street trees, is designed to bring the house to net-zero energy and charge an electric car. The system includes micro inverters, rather than the standard single large inverter, to minimize temporary shading effects from clouds. It’s estimated to increase energy production by 15% and reduce the required number of PV panels on the roof.

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    The open plan changes sectionally as you move through it, responding to opportunities for natural light and ventilation.

    Edward Caldwell

    The open plan changes sectionally as you move through it, responding to opportunities for natural light and ventilation.

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    A band of dormer windows light the play loft and living spaces below. With minimal BTUs needed to heat the well-insulated house, the radiant tubing is limited to area rug locations, providing less heat more efficiently at a slightly higher temperature.

    Edward Caldwell

    A band of dormer windows light the play loft and living spaces below. With minimal BTUs needed to heat the well-insulated house, the radiant tubing is limited to area rug locations, providing less heat more efficiently at a slightly higher temperature.

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    High windows create a chimney effect. The houses many operable windows eliminate the need for air conditioning. When it is too hot or cold to open windows, a Venmar HRV provides tempered fresh air to each room and exhausts air from the kitchen and baths.

    Edward Caldwell

    High windows create a chimney effect. The house’s many operable windows eliminate the need for air conditioning. When it is too hot or cold to open windows, a Venmar HRV provides tempered fresh air to each room and exhausts air from the kitchen and baths.

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    Childrens bedrooms spill out to an airy play loft.

    Edward Caldwell

    Children’s bedrooms spill out to an airy play loft.

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    A skylit shower brightens the master bath.

    Edward Caldwell

    A skylit shower brightens the master bath.

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    The Caroma dual-flush toilet has an integral sink. Water used for hand washing drains into the tank for use in the next flush.

    Edward Caldwell

    The Caroma dual-flush toilet has an integral sink. Water used for hand washing drains into the tank for use in the next flush.

 

Arkin Tilt Architects finessed one of the trickiest livability issues of a Passive House, and the judges applauded. “This is a Passive House that actually has windows,” one said. “I could see it fitting into a lot of different neighborhoods.”

The simple envelope helps to ensure a tight air seal; but to maximize sunlight, the house changes sectionally as you move through it. A south-facing clerestory over the two-story central living space makes the most of the limited openings. Balancing that light source on the north are three operable skylights above the stairwell and a window at the landing, which also create a thermal chimney effect.

This house is chock-full of resource-sipping innovations, two of which were permitting firsts for Palo Alto: a kitchen sink greywater system and urine-diverting toilets. Additional measures such as an air-to-water heat pump that heats domestic water and radiant floors, heat recovery from the shower drains, and rainwater collection made the house a local landmark that’s been toured by more than 800 people.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.