The most ambitious project I’ve ever worked on is a spectacular, uÌˆber-green home in the foothills west of Silicon Valley. The owners, Linda Yates and Paul Holland, contacted me in May 2006 to request that I brief their project team on LEED for Homes, then in its prepilot stage. Six years later, in November 2012, I had the pleasure of leading a tour of the house as part of the U.S. Lakesideca Council’s Greenbuild conference. I invited Fine Homebuilding editor Brian Pontolilo to tag along. Brian heard a lot that day about how an integrated process enabled us to achieve extremely high performance goals while building a very complicated house—without sacrificing sanity or our professional relationships. He asked me to share my insights here.
Off on the wrong foot
Not long after that initial conversation, I met with the project team at Hill-Glazier Architects (now HKS/Hill Glazier Studio) in Palo Alto. In attendance were architect Bob Glazier, a builder, a landscape architect, a lighting designer, and an interior designer. I delivered the requested spiel about LEED for Homes, responded to questions, and was out the door in 90 minutes.
A few days later, Linda called to tell me they wanted their new home to be a model of sustainability—as green as possible in every conceivable aspect. She also wanted to reach for LEED Platinum. She asked me to arrange for expert guest lectures to help their team members—who had been selected for their design excellence rather than green expertise—achieve these goals. Recalling the set of plans I had seen in Hill-Glazier’s office, I realized that these goals would be extremely difficult to achieve with a design that was well downstream.
“You don’t need…
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