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Eichler-inspired Net Zero Energy House in California

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Net Zero Energy House is modern two-level home completed in 2011 by Klopf Architecture, situated in Cupertino, California. The goal of this project was to score as high as reasonably possible in the “GreenPoint Rated System”. The owners de-constructed their existing home when they realized that any single-story design would completely eliminate their back yard. They wanted the design to be a contemporary interpretation of Eichler in style yet keep their single story neighborhood happy. They wanted to maintain their privacy but also wanted a design that was open and light-filled.

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The solution: directed openness, low profile and net-zero energy. The site is a cul-de-sac lot which was the not large enough for a single-story home that would fit the needs of these owners who both work from home. They wanted this to be their “final” residence so Klopf needed to design a larger-than-normal home to suit their lifestyle needs. Instead of adding a second story (and annoying the neighbors) they opted for a partially-submerged lower level that Klopf designed furthest from a basement as possible (with a pulled-back floor plate, a light-filled “atrium” and a lower level light well).

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To preserve privacy and bring in light while minimizing unwanted solar heat gain and provide connection to nature, the design team oriented a large window wall north to the back yard while sloping the ceiling of the great room up to increase the light and connection to nature. The sloping roof also provided a surface suitable for mounting the 13.4 kW PV system compared to other building faces that have smaller, punched windows that maximize privacy. The owners were very concerned about the environment, specifically about energy and resource efficiency. They directed Klopf to use materials that would last as long as possible while avoiding “food for termites” and design a high-performance sustainable home.

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In conjunction with the Mechanical Engineer they designed a net-zero energy home featuring insulated concrete forms (ICFs), structural insulated panels (SIPs), high-performance windows, cementitious siding, and a 13.4 kW solar Photovoltaic (PV) system sized to cover all the energy use in the house. The new open and light-filled house offers a connection to nature while maintaining privacy. Natural gas would not be used in the home with the possible exception of a backyard BBQ.

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Photos: Mariko Reed

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