Sustainable by Design

Posted on by Lauren M

For the first post on MYD's new website, we'd like to present a unique and architecturally, socially, and ecologically relevant case study: one that truly exemplifies sustainability by design. This concept addresses not only how we deal with the buildings we create, but how we address the natural landscape and live responsibly within that landscape.

We had the pleasure of visiting this unique and self-sustaining property last weekend, and were not only impressed with the quality of design, but also with the home's careful and deliberate relationship with the natural environment and its efficient and subtle incorporation of the most fundamental of sustainable concepts.

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Natural ventilation, resulting from perfect siting and building orientation, allows for extensive glazing, while maintaining a cool and comfortable temperature inside.  There is no HVAC installed downstairs and stack ventilation is a key design feature of the home's two-story design, oriented on an east-west axis, with the main living spaces on the longer south-facing elevation.

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In addition, the building location on the site maximizes the value of a beautiful existing oak canopy on the west to protect the home from excessive solar heat gain, while still allowing for ample natural light, greatly reducing the need for electrical fixtures, while reinforcing a strong relationship with the natural environment.

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The materials used were all locally sourced, from the extensive use of local river rock, to the  reclaimed heavy timber structural members.  The 14" square beams were a rare find, so we've included a few photos of some impressive heavy timber construction.  From an aesthetic point of view, I love the personality and sense of history that reclaimed materials add to an environment.

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Other key features of the property include a water retention system and a functioning garden that produces a wide range of organic food, from corn and squash to asparagus and artichokes, as well as a number of delicious herbs and berries.  (I'm especially partial to Melba's tomatoes, which come in all shapes and sizes and are all mouth-watering...) 


Look forward to a forthcoming post that will focus on how Melba and Roy have turned their love of the outdoors and gardening into a productive outdoor space that not only feeds their friends and family (much to their delight), but also exists as a model example for how we can all start thinking about food in a new way and explore the possibilities of producing our own food, on any scale.


So, we appreciate not only this exposure to how we can live sustainably in so many ways, but we love the opportunity to learn directly from the existence of beautiful built and natural landscapes that are already sustainable by design.

Thank you Roy and Melba for sharing your fantastic home with us!