But what makes this home special is its design. In fact, Tenna Florian, the project architect, says her favorite aspect of the house is how its shape was determined by existing tree locations. Rather than having rooms arranged in a linear composition, the home is L-shaped to accommodate existing features of the site. While one leg of the L has a lot of glass area to create light and bright public spaces, glazing was kept to a minimum on the other leg.
While there's a lot of glass in this home, it's strategically placed to get the maximum benefit with the minimum cost and energy loss. Tenna points out that a typical custom house has 30 to 40 percent of the wall area as glass, but this house has 23 percent, which is closer to a typical house.
The main entry is at the intersection of the two legs of the L. This entry is kept low, with a ceiling height of only 7 feet, 6 inches, to give a sense of compression and make the main living space feel taller and brighter.
The monitoring system, by eMonitor, cost less than $1,000 and helps the owners understand where the energy comes from and how it's being used. For example, this graphic shows a large fall-off of energy production from the photovoltaic system. This enabled the owners to quickly see that there was a problem, diagnose its cause and do the necessary fix. If it hadn't been for the monitoring system, the problem could easily have gone unnoticed.
This graphic shows that a small item, the instant hot water dispenser in the kitchen, is a large consumer of energy. Rather than giving up the pleasure and convenience of having a cup of tea without waiting, the homeowners installed an on-off switch to limit the amount of time the hot water dispenser draws power.
The home is also equipped with a "green switch" in the garage. When the owners leave the house for any extended period, they can easily flip the green switch to turn off many of those items that would stay on and continue to draw power. This kind of power usage, sometimes referred to as a vampire load, can be quite significant. Think about all of those devices that keep drawing power even when not in use.