Smooth Operator

Mariko Reed

It’s hard to believe a 4,600-square-foot house with 80 windows and doors could be green, much less LEED Platinum certified, with efficiencies that beat California’s Title 24 energy standards by 55 percent. But this Oakland, Calif., residence has it all.

Before construction, the window plan was put to the test in a modeling program that calculated the impact (based on placement) of operable versus non-operable windows, explains builder Mike McDonald. “We were able to eliminate a lot of superfluous operable features that didn’t contribute to cross-ventilation. This helped from a cost perspective, achieved a lower U value overall, and improved aesthetics. A lot of the windows we’d originally planned as operable didn’t look as nice as fixed glazing.”

The strategic window schedule combines thermally broken aluminum windows by AlumaTherm—a third of which are operable—with a NanaWall retractable wall system. Deep eaves and a dramatically cantilevered awning accentuate the window arrays while protecting interior spaces from the hot summer sun. Other green features include: an Energy Star cool roof; a 600-square-foot “living roof” and deck; LED lighting; in-floor hydronic heating; solar electric power and thermal hot water; smart-home automation; energy-efficient appliances; on-site water reclamation tanks; permeable paving; concrete countertops made with fly ash and recycled glass; indoor air quality management system; drought-tolerant landscaping; zero-VOC paints; and locally sourced, sustainable products such as metal tiles made from discarded kiln shelves.

Project: Margarido House, Oakland, Calif.;
Builder: McDonald Construction and Development, Oakland, Calif.;
Architect: Plumbob Architects, Philadelphia;
Windows: Alumatherm and NanaWall Systems

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Portland, OR, Portland, ME.