I love designing houses. I have a blue sky philosophy; that we should design for the best days, and for the activities we want to nurture in our families. While it’s certainly possible to use sun angles to help figure out roof overhangs that shade in the summer and allow winter sun in, often designing for the best days means inviting the summer sun into our houses, and creating outdoor rooms that expand livable area. Having a clear hearth-like space for gathering in the winter months is also key. For most of my clients this is the kitchen, and even if the outdoor space isn’t used as much in the rainy months, visual access can still feel expansive.
My green philosophy centers around the same idea of setting aspirations rather than developing checklists. The keystone of sustainability is love and care. Without these all the other strategies are rudderless. For this reason I recommend natural materials that are well sourced along with adhesives, sealants, and paints that are non toxic. Good design with proper overhangs and detailing places less burden on potentially weak building elements, and increases durability. I tend to rely less on technological elements, though solar hot water, PV panels, and on-demand recirculation pumps can greatly offset energy demands from the grid and help cut waste.
I also believe that successful sustainability practices encourage strategies that extend beyond the walls of the house. I am a huge fan of edible gardens, using graywater where practical, and planting that requires low water use. Houses that respond to the street and the neighborhood, and that are attractive and inviting can help revitalize the block and establish community ties. Home offices allow for more dedicated and convenient work from home, which offsets transportation needs and has other benefits for families. Rental suites or backyard cottages can be used to support aging parents, boomerang kids, au pairs, or can even be rented out for supplemental income. These strategies can help create deeper social bonds, and help create livable density.
Finally, it is my goal to employ these strategies in small scale development projects. I am always looking for interested investing partners, and a bigger goal is to facilitate the development of cooperative-like projects that allow for a deeper sense of community–kind of like a coop for grownups. Please contact me to discuss these ideas further, I have a fair amount of knowledge and resources and believe there are many opportunities that currently exist.