Casa Familia: Eco-Tech Coastal Living

Casa Familia: Eco-Tech Coastal Living

Gregory Han
Oct 30, 2009

Name: Casa Familia
Location: San Diego, Calif. (Point Loma)
Type: 1950 home

Kevin wrote in to share this this "reinterpretation of quintessential Southern California courtyard houses", a coastal remodel designed with home technology and energy efficiency at the core of its character. The technology rich home employs a wide assortment of smart design choices to reduce energy (-65%) and water consumption (-55%), while making an aesthetic impact indicative of the modern architectural movement toward eco-minded construction...

The goal of this project was to design and construct a highly efficient home that would employ passive and active strategies to significantly reduce, energy, water, and resource consumption all while delivering a modern, comfortable and livable home for a young family of six. The houses consumes 65% less electricity than state standards and 55% less water than homes of comparable size without sacrificing comfort or aesthetics, this was important to dispel the common mis-perception that efficiency and conservation has to look "hippie" or alternative.

What's old is new again; this house utilizes several passive (low cost) strategies, time honored ways of living more comfortably with our environment, the way people did before air conditioning and forced air heating. The floor plan is "one room" wide, basically a large two story rectangle, 18' x 88' allowing for 100% natural "thru" ventilation and deep natural light penetration to all interior spaces – 100% daylighting. The hot elevations; South & West are double framed with twice as much insulation, and the house's elongated East/West orientation allows for maximum solar control – lots of glass on the shaded North elevation and fewer openings on the warmer Southerly and Westerly exposures. Large roof overhangs, up to 7 feet, shade and protect window openings, while large trees were integrated to provide additional shading control.

What's new is, well, new. The house dramatically increases efficiency through several "active" features and new technologies:

  • High performance Low E dual glazed windows.
  • Energy Star certified appliances, computers and TV's.
  • LED lighting-ultra low energy consumption.
  • Motion sensors-turn off lights when space uninhabited.
  • Home automation system controls and maximizes energy efficiency.
  • Dual flush toilets 0.9 gallon/ 1.6 with power assisted flushing action.
  • Eco Powered faucet, water spins internal turbine to power automatically.
  • Clothes washing machine & dishwasher ultra low water using solar PV – 4.8 Kw roof mounted solar electricity generation, produces 65% of homes power.
  • Hot Water – (2) solar panels pre-heat a 90 gal. storage tank to handle both domestic hot water needs as well as augment radiant heating needs.

Beauty and efficiency isn't only skin deep, what's on the "outside" counts just as much. Here are some outdoor details:

  • Synthetic turf-dramatically reduces water use, no fertilizer, no pesticides
  • Thoughtful plant selection specifically chosen to reduce water usage and produce significantly reducing weekly yard waste.
  • Smart Irrigation controller, monitors localized weather conditions, controls water use accordingly.
  • Majority of site is permeable, cobble, decomposed granite, and mulch; eliminates site run off.

A few additional details about the home with eco-minded construction and energy efficiency in mind:

  • Carpet is made from 100% recycled content.
  • Glass tiles made from a minimum of 65% recycled content.
  • Entire exterior is maintenance free with no painted surfaces, integral colored synthetic stucco, cement ship lap siding, natural slate, aluminum & glass.
  • Majority of house components recyclable; aluminum windows, metal roof, and wood framing.
  • Salvaged industrial windows in the studio.
  • All misc. left over building materials donated to Habitat for Humanity Restore thrift shop.

All photos: Kevin deFreitas
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