Fire Resistant Canyon Home

The original home on this canyon lot was destroyed by wildfire which created the unanticipated opportunity for the owners to build a new, contemporary, fire-safe home with numerous green elements.

The home’s passive solar design features:

  • Direct gain solar heating through south-facing windows in winter.
  • Window shading to prevent overheating in warmer seasons.
  • Concrete floors for thermal mass, storing heat during the day and releasing it at night to warm the interior space.
  • Large floor to ceiling windows and sliding doors throughout this home provide plenty of natural light, reducing the need for supplemental electric lighting.

This home was also designed to take advantage of cooling breezes – extremely important in this canyon location. Key elements include:

  • Large overhangs to provide shade & reduce heat gain.
  • Large retracting doors on the east & south facing walls allow cooling breezes into the home.
  • Ceiling fans that circulate air to further cool the interior.

To ensure the home is fire safe, the exterior is plaster with no exposed wood or other “weak links” that would make the home vulnerable during a wildfire. Other sustainable elements include LED lighting throughout, on-demand water heating, floors made from renewable cork and bamboo, and a greywater system that carries rinse water from the washing machine and two outdoor showers to irrigate landscaping on the hillside behind the home.

One of the owners’ goals was to produce as much of their own energy needs as possible. An 8.64 kW PV system provides the majority of the electricity this home consumes.  Solar panels also heat water for the lap pool. For much of the year, this system keeps the pool water temperature at a comfortable level. A back-up water heater only provides supplemental heat as needed.

Designer: Bree Medley
Photographer: Jim Bartsch

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