Created to address the growing national housing crisis for adults with autism, this community in Sonoma, California integrates autism spectrum-specific design, Universal Design and Sustainable Design strategies. A highly insulated exterior envelope, radiant heating/cooling, high-performance glazing, natural ventilation and daylighting all contribute to help minimize energy use. Sloped roofs maximize solar access and support photovoltaic and solar hot water panels which offset this reduced energy load. The new community serves as an innovative, replicable model designed to address the full range of needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorders while maximizing residents’ development and independence so they can live life with purpose and dignity.

Architect: Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
Project Type: Residential – Multi-Family 2-4 units, Other
Project Category: New Construction
Project Site: Previously Developed Land
Completion Date: January 2013
Project Cost: $6,884,896
Project Size: 16,315 sq. ft.
Location: Sonoma, Calif.


This is a thoughtfully designed and carefully detailed project. The agenda extends beyond the building to include food production on-site and a therapy pool, as well as other services for autistic adults. The emphasis on sustainable passive strategies, including 100% natural ventilation and cooling, is very subtle and quietly done. The landscape design of the site focuses on stormwater treatment that manages 100% of the site's stormwater as well as a one-acre organic garden, orchard and greenhouse that provides both food and therapeutic value. The scale of building and site landscape keeps with the scale of the surrounding area, which is important in incorporating this type of facility into a residential neighborhood that had been slated for 14 new single-family homes. The indoor and outdoor spaces are seamlessly integrated. Half of the building's power is generated by the photovoltaic system, but the 51 KW solar electric system is designed to be expanded and make the building net-zero at a later date. Solar water heating also provides 85% of the domestic hot water and pool heating.


  • Estimated % of occupants using public transit/cycling/walking: 40%
  • Daylighting at levels that allow lights to be off before nightfall: 93%
  • Lighting power density (watts per square-foot): 0.72 watts/sq.ft.
  • Outdoor views: 100%
  • Reduction of regulated potable water: 33%
  • Total EUI (kBtu per square-foot per year): 33
  • Net EUI (kBtu per square-foot per year): 6
  • Percent reduction from National Median EUI for Building Type: 88%

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