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Old Mountain View Neighborhood: A Hub of Sustainable Design

by Forest Linebarger

From my office window on Castro Street, I look out on beautiful Old Mountain View. In the past, I rarely had the opportunity to work in my backyard, instead our sustainable projects were found in the surrounding hillside cities. In the last five years, this has completely turned around. The most innovative and sustainable houses I design are right here in Old Mountain View. Part of the reason is surely that costs of green building now rival traditional construction. Another reason is surely Old Mountain View’s desirable location right near downtown attracts an innovative, socially conscious resident. That makes me very proud.

Many projects we do here are focused on restoring bungalows to their original splendor on the outside while updating interiors and quietly adding water and energy saving features. Other projects are new homes and renovations, many modeled on our historic gems in the Arts and Crafts, Mission and Modern architectural styles. An Arts and Crafts home we designed on Eldora Drive won an award for its innovative water use from the County of Santa Clara. An underground cistern collects the rainwater from its roof in winter, using it in summer to meet all its irrigation needs. This project received the highest GreenPoint rating of any house in Mountain View, attained though a careful whole house approach to sustainability.

Another home on Paul Ave., under construction now, will include a living wall and a green roof planted with succulents, creating lush natural greenspace living hand in glove with the house. The structural walls are also innovative – made entirely out of insulated panels. They save so much energy that it was a snap to add photovoltaic panels to make the house generate all the electricity it will need on site and probably have enough leftover to sell to PG&E at peak rates. This home will also sport a constructed wetland that will flow around the home, capturing rainwater from the roof and filtering greywater from the house. The watershed will support a rich aquatic habitat and irrigate the surrounding gardens.

“The national, state and local rebates on the renewable energy and energy efficient applications are incredible. Everyone nshould build green. It just makes sense on so many levels: economically, environmentally, and aesthetically,” insists Rob Koo, the renowned illustrator and owner of the house.

A remodeling project on Mercy that will start in spring is one of very few insulated panel projects done on renovations. The costs will be about the same as traditional construction costs, perhaps even cheaper. The result will be a far more energy efficient and comfortable house. Since these insulated panels use no virgin wood in their manufacture, the owners can have peace of mind that they are not contributing to deforestation. This project also has a glass floor in the upstairs hall, allowing natural daylighting of the first floor from the floor above. It also has solar water heating, triple pane windows and a host of other high and low tech sustainable features.

It is wonderful feeling to be designing the most beautiful, environmentally sensitive and progressive projects right here in Old Mountain View. For more information contact Forrest Linebarger at forrest@voxdesigngroup.com.

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