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Terra Caelo / St. George, Utah

  • The judges appreciated how the house respects its site and is built around existing trees, boulders, and vegetation while making the most of the impressive canyon views.

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    The judges appreciated how the house respects its site and is built around existing trees, boulders, and vegetation while making the most of the impressive canyon views.

    Danny Lee

    The judges appreciated how the house respects its site and is built around existing trees, boulders, and vegetation while making the most of the impressive canyon views.

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    Patio doors can be opened to the desert.

    Danny Lee

    Patio doors can be opened to the desert.

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    The judges were wowed by the homes outstanding materials including the quartersawn oak kitchen cabinets and customized ceiling detail.

    Danny Lee

    The judges were wowed by the home’s “outstanding” materials including the quartersawn oak kitchen cabinets and customized ceiling detail.

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    A 10-zone HVAC system includes thermostats in each of four bedroom, controlled via smartphone.

    Danny Lee

    A 10-zone HVAC system includes thermostats in each of four bedroom, controlled via smartphone.

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    LED lighting from Sylvania helped to reduce the homes electrical demand.

    Danny Lee

    LED lighting from Sylvania helped to reduce the home’s electrical demand.

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    Sierra Pacific windows open the home to sunlight and views while controlling solar heat gain.

    Danny Lee

    Sierra Pacific windows open the home to sunlight and views while controlling solar heat gain.

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    To better accommodate the multi-level site, the floor plan steps up in two areas.

    Danny Lee

    To better accommodate the multi-level site, the floor plan steps up in two areas.

 

The Design Awards judges were amazed by the amount of energy-minded technologies and luxurious custom touches that builder Jake Joines squeezed into Terra Caelo for barely more than $200 a square foot.

For instance, to keep insulation costs down without compromising efficiency, Joines speced two inches of closed-cell spray foam followed by blown-in fiberglass in the walls and roof for R-values of 24 to 50. To beat the desert heat, small Mitsubishi mini-split air handlers in each room allow for precision control of air conditioning so that a west-facing office stays comfortable in the summer without freezing out the rest of the home and rarely used areas can be shut off when not in use.

The construction budget even included renewable energy systems, including a Schuco solar domestic water heater and a grid-connected 3.75-kW Enphase PV system. The owners, former Apple employees who relocated from Los Altos, Calif., carefully monitor the home’s energy use and generation using smartphones and iPads loaded with apps from Schuco, Enphase, and Mitsubishi. “They can watch how much energy each individual PV panel is producing throughout the day and can control each mini-split remotely,” Joines says.

The home’s striking but understated interior finishes got high marks from the judges, who also approved of the way the three-tiered home blends into its gently sloping site. “It made more sense to basically create three elevations rather than digging out all of the terrain and making huge retaining walls,” Joines says. “That way we disturbed less of the native vegetation.”