When Dan Heinfeld, president of in Irvine, set out to build his family’s home, he wanted to practice what his firm preached, which is to build green–and he wanted to do it at no added cost. To achieve this, he and his team combined many passive and active systems to create a cost-effective model for the community. The finished luxury home, the Chestnut House, is set upon a knoll with ocean views in Newport Beach. Although it would be difficult to claim this as affordable housing, Heinfeld does seek to dispel the myth that green costs more, and designed a home that provides an abundant sense of luxury but also an energy efficient and healthy home.

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This award winning modern 4-bedroom, 4-bath house wraps itself around a central courtyard that emphasizes a combination of indoor and outdoor living.  The courtyard is used to passively heat and cool the house with prevailing breezes that are common in the southern California coastal climate. In the center of the house is the 2-story living area, which flushes hot air up and out to naturally ventilate the home with the help of a whole house fan. Two of the bedrooms are upstairs and are connected by a perforated bridge, which further assists air circulation. And above the kitchen is a large skylight with insulation properties similar to an R-11 wall.

The home boasts many other green design elements like an ENERGY STAR cool roof, with a 5.3 kilowatt solar system that provides for almost all of the home’s energy needs. The pool has its own solar hot water system for wintertime dips. Some of the interior walls are integral plaster that require no paint, while the rest were painted with low-VOC paints. The exterior was painted with low-VOC paints over Douglas Fir siding. And most of the flooring is composed of terrazzo, made from recycled glass and aggregates, and is an integral part of the passive heating and cooling systems.

Heinfeld kept the house on budget by balancing the expensive energy systems with simple interior finishes. A design choice that gives the home a minimalist and airy aesthetic that also suits its location on the coastline.

Naturally, the home is designed to save energy and money over time. Heinfeld says, “Sustainable homes — indeed, all sustainable buildings — are the marriage between time-honored design practices and the best of new technologies available today. Sustainability is not a trend or fad. It’s a value decision. Sustainability should no longer be viewed as an alternative design and building practice, but instead the preferred design and building practice.”


via Jetson Green