“Michele Landegger and Debrae Lopes of Boa Constructor are awesome! After living in our solar straw bale home for 1.5 years, we can only say that our home is everything we anticipated and more.”
The Sullivan Residence
Conceptualized by Kristin and Mark Sullivan, designed and built by Designers/General Contractors Michele Landegger and Debrae Lopes of Boa Constructor Building and Design and Architect Kelly Lerner of One World Design.
The Sullivan’s dream of a small sustainably built home in an urban setting using passive solar techniques was well matched by the design/build team of Landegger, Lopes and Lerner. Together we created a model for educating people about the possibilities of sustainable building and living.
This new 1450 sq.ft. hybrid Strawbale/Wood Frame house was built on a small urban lot in Capitola. The original 460 sq.ft. cottage and the garage were dismantled, stored on sight and incorporated into finish woodwork details throughout the house.
This passive solar house is designed around a southern courtyard with extensive glazing on the south side to capture and utilize the sun’s rays. The floors are concrete with 30% fly ash content. Fly ash is a waste byproduct of the coal burning industry, the use of which results in increased overall strength of the concrete and a significant reduction in the use of cement. The U.S. cement production industry consumes a great deal of energy and contributes a signifigant percentage to all U.S. CO2 emissions. Additionally, the floor acts as thermal mass by gathering heat during the day and releasing it at night when it is needed to create warmth. Also contributing to increased thermal mass is the use of earthen plasters showcased on some strawbale and stick framed walls.
The north, east and west Strawbale walls provide superior insulation with a rating of R40. The framed portions are insulated with recycled newsprint cellulose.
Solar energy is collected on the roof in the form of a 1 kW photovoltaic grid intertie system which turns the electric meter backwards by day, providing for most of the Sullivan’s needs. This system was designed and installed by Harmony Solar of San Jose. The sun also heats an active solar domestic hot water system providing hot water; an on demand hot water heater is used as a backup system. This system was designed and installed by David Woodworth with Solar Vision of Santa Cruz.
Not only is this very energy efficient home built on the principals of sustainability. It's beautifully designed and impeccably crafted. With its luxuriant curves and arches, built in benches nestled in deep window seats, old world style Gypsum and Earthen Plasters, it resonates a timeless feeling. Wall niches, intricate tile design, warm colors, tall ceilings and ample windows give the inhabitants of this small home a spacious and harmonious feeling.
The Sullivan’s landscaping is based on permaculture principles using drought tolerant native and edible plants as well as a cistern for collection of rain water used for irrigation. These systems were designed and installed by Native Systems of Marin and Michael Fenisey Landscaping of Santa Cruz.
An additional effective energy savings item that cost the least is the solar clothes dryer, ie. the backyard clothesline.
Presently, in the United States where opulence, waste and consumption are prevalent in the design and construction of trophy homes,this home is a valuable model for graceful, sustainable living.