If Hacienda Ja Ja suggests a house that feels buoyant and carefree, then this one is well named. Its recurring themes are light, art, nature, and a certain lack of fussiness. Add to that list low energy use: Certified LEED-Platinum, it’s expected to perform 67 percent better than code.

The clients, San Francisco transplants, asked Lake|Flato Architects for a modestly sized, sustainable house that would showcase their art collection and preserve the site’s large live oaks. Hence the clever footprint—2,328 square feet—worked into the tight space between trees. Unobtrusively clad in Eastern red cedar, the house circles around a small central viewing courtyard that acts as a light well and allows each section to be one room wide, despite the compact plan.

Grand Award

Category Green/Sustainable home
Entrant/Architect Lake|Flato Architects, San Antonio
Builder Truax Construction, San Antonio
Landscape architect Rialto Studio , San Antonio

A low entry hall hinges the bedroom bar to a perpendicular L-shaped living pavilion. It culminates in a north-facing screened porch that slips past the house’s edge to capture breezes from four directions. All the roofs and ceilings slope upward, their clerestories framing the old oaks and exhausting warm air. The building also collects rain water for irrigation and incorporates a 7-kW solar array and solar thermal hot water.

The architects will soon find out whether the house hits its energy targets. They’ve installed a monitoring system that offers a detailed daily readout. Says project manager Tenna Florian, “It’s something we want to be doing on as many projects as possible, to maintain that connection with clients and ensure that projects are performing as intended.”

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