San Diego's first certified Passive House, which contains an astounding mixture of sustainable features, gets all its energy from a solar array and a 17-foot wind turbine. San Diego contractor Alliance Green Builder created a system that would take the building off-grid and earn Casa Aquila a LEED Platinum certification. Combined with thermal efficient heat recovery, top-notch insulation and plenty of smart features, the home is a truly impressive example of green living.
The project is located on a hilltop in Ramona, California, where temperatures are sometimes below freezing in the winter and often in excess of 100-degrees in the summer. This desert-like climate called for a solution that would include high insulation and an air-tight envelope. A heat recovery ventilation system provides optimal indoor air quality and maintains thermal efficiency.
The most impressive aspect of the home is the sophisticated energy system, which is expected to eventually take the home off-grid. Currently, the house generates renewable energy and runs off a battery system, utilizing the grid only for back-up energy. Its prominent location is one of the best sites in San Diego County for harvesting wind-generated energy. A 2.3 kW, 17-foot high wind turbine was installed on a hill just above the home and is expected to generate energy almost every day in a year for a minimum of 12 hours a day. Large dual-axis trackers outfitted with 24 solar panels are expected to produce the bulk of the energy produced on site-around 44,000 kWh per year.
Inside the house, various energy-efficient appliances such as an induction cooktop and a heat pump dryer ensure a lower than average energy consumption. High-efficacy LED lighting is used throughout, with several control and monitoring systems providing data for energy use and generation, as well as water resource levels and water consumption.