July 2014

50 Shades of Green: Leadership by Example


Two New Mexico Homes with Vision and Commitment to Sustainability


Chris Webster


The world as we know it today has dramatically benefited from advancements and discoveries in the realms of energy, technology and sustainable supplies. The necessity to effectively apply this knowledge and resulting products to the practical world of designing and developing new homes and communities is of paramount importance as these changes become standard operating procedure.


New Mexico has long been recognized for its focused concentration on innovative design, utilization and implementation of energy efficiencies, sustainable materials and environmentally friendly systems utilizing existing resources, all combined in finished products that lead by example.


As a community, Santa Fe continues to demonstrate leadership through innovative, cutting-edge developments in architecture, engineering and construction. People from around the world visit Santa Fe to experience and learn from our community’s diverse examples. Numerous newly designed and constructed “green” homes have been instituted city- and county-wide. Solar features are prevalent and are continually cropping up in all sectors, from Tomasita’s Restaurant downtown to Casa Alegre to Eldorado.


Two exemplary, standout Santa Fe homes are available in today’s market, one recently designed and constructed and the other a retrofit.





Casa Carolina House


Completed in June, 2014 by architect/builder Jim Satzinger, AIA, LEED AP, of Satzinger Design, Inc., Casa Carolina exemplifies smart-home design and execution. Located on the north side and entered into the 2014 Santa Fe Homebuilders’ Parade of Homes, this home features many of the best available green-built options, articulated by its creator as follows.


Design Concept: Sited on an east-sloping 2.7-acre parcel, the approach to the main residence and studio follows existing Casa Carolina House2topography, respecting the native foliage. The floor plan weaves along the natural land contours between open but sheltered courtyards. Sun and light are available from all spaces as the day unfolds. Indoor and outdoor living areas are open and inviting and encourage an all-season lifestyle.


Energy- and Water-saving Materials and Systems: An insulated barrier wraps both the inside and outside of all walls, floors and doorsills, providing increased interior comfort and reducing energy needs. The thermal break and seal at exterior doorsills are particularly innovative, energy-efficient designs. The wall and roof envelopes include the latest in insulation and air-barrier strategies. Exterior walls are filled with blown fiberglass insulation. A membrane with taped seams forms the exterior air barrier, and foam-sealed, rigid-styrene “outsulation” and fiber-reinforced, breathable cement plaster compose the drainage plain and complete the wall system.


Doors and windows average better than 0.3 U-value, and glazing design and solar-heat coefficient are based on exposure. Passive solar elements on the south side provide naturally warmed interiors in winter. Exterior and interior shading devices control heat and glare. The structural roof framing is an engineered truss system, sloped for roof drainage and provides a sealed cavity filled with insulation of 16 to 24 inches in depth. Above the trusses, a reflective membrane keeps heat buildup within the roof cavity to a minimum, while air intakes over windows—in frieze blocks and sheet metal shrouds—draw cool air that is convected in a mini-attic across the entire roof and, as warmed air, exhausts through roof-cap vents. The roofing membrane contains a reflective aggregate and a high Solar Reflective Index. Cooling needs are greatly reduced or eliminated even in the hottest month.


Windows and doors are constructed with Sustainable Forest Initiative–harvested lumber. All exposed timbers, wood decking, siding and trim have been milled from standing-dead Douglas fir trees that were harvested from Santa Clara Canyon in the aftermath of the 2011 wildfire. Interior casework is made from “no-added-urea formaldehyde” sheet goods, and coatings and sealers are water base and low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs).


Electrical-system demand is greatly reduced by LED fixtures and lamps. Lighting levels in living areas and exterior spaces are managed and customized with an intuitive, energy-saving lighting-control system. All appliances are Energy Star®-qualified. An easily monitored 4.4 kW photovoltaic solar system will greatly reduce electrical bills and bank electricity when the house is not occupied. A thermal solar system and a high-efficiency condensing boiler, which also feeds smartly zoned, hydronic under-floor heating, provide domestic hot water. Water-saving circulation pumps are zoned to reduce the length of water piping and deliver hot water only to where it is required. Interior plumbing fixtures are all low-flow and water-saving. Cooling, if needed, is available from a state-of-the-art evaporative cooling system that allows variable-volume passive airflow throughout the home while providing guilt-free indoor/outdoor living on the warmest days. An energy-recovery ventilator provides continuous fresh air. Occupancy sensors activate exhaust fans.


The irrigation system is supplied by a roof stormwater-catchment piping network and is stored in a use-monitoring underground storage tank. All native and semi-native plant materials have been chosen to minimize or eliminate the need for watering, and irrigation delivery is zoned to provide specific plant species requirements and minimize evaporation.



A Retrofit in Hondo Hills


Hondo Hills House

Opportunities for retrofitting an existing home can be as beneficial as designing and building from scratch. As demonstrated in Nathan Mackintosh’s Hondo Hills home, improved energy efficiency, entertainment and data amenity options are better than ever. Mackintosh applied his knowledge and expertise in electronics to incorporate a new high-efficiency heating system, a state-of-the-art entertainment center and a custom programmable LED lighting system.


Specific energy-saving features in the home include Low-E glass in windows that prevent the sun’s heat from overpowering the regulated air temperature systems, hydronic radiant baseboard heating from the New Mexico company, Runtal, in conjunction with passive-solar heat by direct gain and thermal-mass retention, a Lutron automation system for lighting and exhaust fans, as well as an entire home exhaust system recirculating fresh air as programmed. The recirculating domestic hot water system prevents waste while otherwise waiting for hot water and allows the system to remain off when water is not in demand.  


Wireless technology eliminates having to install wiring to numerous amenities. All aspects of electronically driven equipment and systems, whether it be lighting, the home’s environment, or entertainment, may be manipulated and controlled through a smart phone, tablet or computer.


Given the strength, as well as depth, of the creative and intelligence quotient per capita found in northern New Mexico, it’s no wonder our community and its dwellings are looked upon as stellar examples of world leadership, innovative design, and sustainable accomplishment—50 shades of green, and counting.



Chris Webster of Webster Enterprises oversees and coordinates numerous activities in the arts, real estate and development, business consulting, investments and philanthropy and is an associate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty – Santa Fe. 505.780.9500, chris@webster-enterprises.com, www.chriswebster.com





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