Green Home’s Features Make It Part of the Landscape

May 7, 2014

Fall House Exterior by Joe Fletcher Photography

This coastal home in Big Sur, California, is built to be one with the surrounding landscape.  The building is actually embedded in the land, making it an integral part of the coastline.  According to the architect, Fougeron Architecture, “The interior is a shelter, a refuge in contrast with the roughness and immense scale of the ocean and cliff.”

Sustainable Design Strategies

Natural daylight is used in all rooms, including bathrooms, and the design is tailored to maximize solar exposure and reduces the power loads from artificial lighting. Primary daylight is indirect and comes from the north while southern light is limited and mitigated by an automatic exterior shading system.

The low-E, solar control glazing is insulated and set into a thermally broken custom steel frame. This high performance glazing reduces solar gain, improves winter comfort, and offers superior thermal performance without sacrificing views.

Radiant hydronic heat eliminates ductwork and allows lower operating temperatures and higher occupant comfort levels. Energy usage is significantly lower and more efficient than traditional forced air systems.

Stack ventilation is naturally facilitated by the building layout. The open floor plan is connected on multiple levels from the lower master bedroom suite to the entry at a higher elevation. Automatically controlled operable glazing at the lowest level is coordinated with an exhaust transfer grille at the highest elevation. The pressure and height differential allows the exhaustion of hot air and intake of cool fresh air.

Drought resistant and native vegetation is specifically intended to reduce soil erosion and facilitate new habitats for local wildlife. A vegetated roof reduces the aerial visual footprint of the building and provides added thermal mass and insulation for the occupied space below.

On-site wastewater treatment through a septic system paired with efficient plumbing fixtures reduces loads to municipal sewer systems and differentiates black and grey water. Conversely, fresh water is garnered from an on-site stream that is also not dependent on municipal systems.

Low VOC & sustainable finishes were the primary considerations to ensure the highest interior air quality and responsible use of finish materials. The interior paint and other interior finishes are all low VOC. Wall and ceiling insulation is formaldehyde-free denim.

Source: “Fall House / Fougeron Architecture” 22 Apr 2014. ArchDaily.

Photos by: Joe Fletcher Photography



Dawn Killough

has over 15 years experience in the construction industry and is the author of Green Building Design 101, an e-book available from Amazon. She is a LEED AP and Certified Green Building Advisor, and has worked on the LEED Certification of three projects in Salem, Oregon.