Green Home of the year Awards

Lot Design, Preparation, Development, and Environmental Responsibility Award

Sam Sterling Architecture

About this home
This project attempts to show how a contemporary addition with a serious commitment to minimizing its environmental impact can be integrated into a historic neighborhood.

Powered by a new 3 kwH grid-tied photovoltaic system and constructed of insulated concrete forms (ICFs), this residential addition counterbalances the energy usage of the existing house through superior energy efficiency and energy generation, while expanding on the idea of New Mexican courtyard typology—with all of its inherent environmental benefits.

In the historic Nob Hill neighborhood, a new library/gallery, studio, exercise room, garage and covered breezeways expand the living space of this 1930s home and create a private courtyard animated by shadow and light. The new massing retains the intimate scale, texture, and color of the original house—as appropriate for the neighborhood while developing its own material and detail intent. The simple orthogonal forms are broken by a single angle derived from the winter solstice sunrise. This alignment maximizes morning light in the courtyard throughout the winter and is a reminder of seasonal light condition.

Connecting to the existing study, the new exercise room bridges between a series of existing courtyards and a new covered breezeway which leads to the library/gallery, a contemplative space for books and study with a rooftop terrace for Sandia Mountain viewing. New patio doors expand the kitchen/dining areas onto a new covered porch, providing outdoor dining space as well as covered entry to the new garage and attached artist studio. Direct solar gain is mitigated by informed placement of windows, trees, and the overall spatial arrangement. The layering of courtyards, views, and the covered exterior spaces maximize privacy but encourage cooling breezes throughout and year-round outdoor living possibilities.

Lot Design, Preparation, Development, and Environmental Responsibility
This infill project maximizes available living area by pushing the addition to the lot setbacks, defining an internal courtyard conducive to cooling breezes and variegated sun/shade. All doors and windows from demolished structures were sold or donated for reuse. All recyclable material generated during construction was recycled.

Use of Materials and Resource Efficiency
The majority of the building walls and stemwalls are high-performance 10-inch thick ICF with 15 percent fly ash concrete, dimensioned to the ICF module. Continuous Icynene insulation in wood frame walls and prefab truss roofs create an airtight envelope. All windows have insulated, low-E glazing; a select few are self-cleaning. Existing concrete slabs were preserved where possible.

Energy Efficiency
A grid-tied photovoltaic system powers existing and new construction. Electric mini-split mechanical units minimize duct runs and localize climate control. New Icynene insulation in the existing crawlspace and insulated roof pavers improve the R-value of the existing house. A new catalytic venting wood stove with outside air intake enhances the heating self-sufficiency of the existing house.

Water Efficiency
All roof water is retained for landscape and kitchen garden use. A gravel trench drain in the courtyard keeps courtyard water on site and allows percolation into the ground, as do the courtyard pavers set in sand. The primary planter bed in the courtyard also allows for on-site percolation of courtyard runoff.

Indoor Environmental Quality
Interior finishes include exposed unstained concrete floors with non-VOC sealant, pre-finished solid maple floor, tectum ceilings, and 1/8-inch plate black iron steel plate with no additional finish.

Operation, Maintenance, and Homeowner Education
Close collaboration between client, architect, and contractor was required for installation of materials used as factory finished. Exterior finish materials are low maintenance: cementitious stucco, concrete flatwork, stainless-steel wall panels, kynar painted clad windows, steel left to rust, and CMU site walls. The cedar roof deck will require annual maintenance with a penetrating low-VOC sealer.

Environmental Impact
The materials used and site sensitivity make for structures intended to last and age naturally. The artist studio allows the house to function as a live/work space for one of the homeowners.