After a devastating fire ravaged the Silver Oak Winery in California’s Napa Valley nearly 15 years ago, the owners turned tragedy into opportunity when they rebuilt the facility to target the most stringent sustainability standards in the world. After achieving LEED Platinum certification, the redesigned winery has now also earned Living Building Challenge (LBC) Sustainability Certification from the International Living Future Institute — making it the world’s first LBC-certified winery. Sagan Piechota Architecture led the redesign of the Silver Oak Winery with sustainable services provided by international engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti.

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angled view of gabled winery building with solar panels on the roof

Founded in the early 1970s, the family-owned Silver Oak Winery now covers 105 acres of land in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley and is dedicated to producing only Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery is the largest building globally to achieve Living Building Challenge certification and meets requirements of all seven LBC performance petals including site/place, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty.

Related: LEED-seeking winery in Uruguay is built almost entirely of locally sourced materials

trees surrounding a gabled light and dark wood building
gabled room with wood ceilings, glass walls and black lounge chairs

“The Living Building Challenge is considered to be the world’s most rigorous green building standard,” said Thornton Tomasetti in a press statement. “It encourages the creation of a regenerative built environment and is based off of actual rather than modeled or anticipated performance. Silver Oak was awarded the certification after more than five years of planning and construction.”

long black dining tables with black chairs in room with pitched wood roof and glass walls
sun shining through glass walls

The Silver Oak Alexander Valley project comprises two buildings — the tasting room with event spaces and offices and the production and administration building — totaling over 100,000 square feet. All materials used were vetted to meet the Red List Imperative, which restricts the use of the most harmful chemicals. Rooftop solar panels power all of the winery’s energy needs, while solar thermal energy systems and CO2 heat pumps provide heating. To minimize water consumption, the winery uses recycled hot water systems and a water-management system that captures and treats rainwater as well as wastewater for reuse.

+ Silver Oak Winery

Photography by Damion Hamilton

two gabled buildings with glass walls next to a vineyard