Launch Slideshow

The open floor plan leverages the homes east elevation to deliver morning light to the kitchen and dining area, limiting the need for the pendant lights over the table on most days. The aluminum windows are fitted with PPGs Solarban 70XL glazing, a commercial-grade, low-E coated insulated glass with a 0.27 solar heat gain coefficient, a U-value of 0.27, and 64% visible light transmittance. 888.774.4332. www.ppg.com.

Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple

  • The open floor plan leverages the homes east elevation to deliver morning light to the kitchen and dining area, limiting the need for the pendant lights over the table on most days. The aluminum windows are fitted with PPGs Solarban 70XL glazing, a commercial-grade, low-E coated insulated glass with a 0.27 solar heat gain coefficient, a U-value of 0.27, and 64% visible light transmittance. 888.774.4332. www.ppg.com.

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    The open floor plan leverages the homes east elevation to deliver morning light to the kitchen and dining area, limiting the need for the pendant lights over the table on most days. The aluminum windows are fitted with PPGs Solarban 70XL glazing, a commercial-grade, low-E coated insulated glass with a 0.27 solar heat gain coefficient, a U-value of 0.27, and 64% visible light transmittance. 888.774.4332. www.ppg.com.

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    Jill Paider

    The open floor plan leverages the home’s east elevation to deliver morning light to the kitchen and dining area, limiting the need for the pendant lights over the table on most days. The aluminum windows are fitted with PPG’s Solarban 70XL glazing, a commercial-grade, low-E coated insulated glass with a 0.27 solar heat gain coefficient, a U-value of 0.27, and 64% visible light transmittance. 888.774.4332. www.ppg.com.

  • The homes predominant north-facing elevation is ideal for mitigating solar heat gain but difficult for harvesting daylight to offset lighting energy demand. The open floor plan includes large window and patio door expanses that draw and share as much daylight as possible. Ceiling fans from The Modern Fan Co. are essential to the homes passive cooling and ventilation scheme. 888.588.3267. www.modernfan.com.

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    The homes predominant north-facing elevation is ideal for mitigating solar heat gain but difficult for harvesting daylight to offset lighting energy demand. The open floor plan includes large window and patio door expanses that draw and share as much daylight as possible. Ceiling fans from The Modern Fan Co. are essential to the homes passive cooling and ventilation scheme. 888.588.3267. www.modernfan.com.

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    Jill Paider

    The home’s predominant north-facing elevation is ideal for mitigating solar heat gain but difficult for harvesting daylight to offset lighting energy demand. The open floor plan includes large window and patio door expanses that draw and share as much daylight as possible. Ceiling fans from The Modern Fan Co. are essential to the home’s passive cooling and ventilation scheme. 888.588.3267. www.modernfan.com.

  • A central staircase (with an assist from a ceiling fan) acts like a chimney to draw cool air through the house from the basement to clerestory windows on the top floor, limiting the use of the central air cooling system to only the hottest days, and then only for a few hours. The relatively low velocity airflow allows the natural convection of cool air to pervade the main level.

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    A central staircase (with an assist from a ceiling fan) acts like a chimney to draw cool air through the house from the basement to clerestory windows on the top floor, limiting the use of the central air cooling system to only the hottest days, and then only for a few hours. The relatively low velocity airflow allows the natural convection of cool air to pervade the main level.

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    Jill Paider

    A central staircase (with an assist from a ceiling fan) acts like a chimney to draw cool air through the house from the basement to clerestory windows on the top floor, limiting the use of the central air cooling system to only the hottest days, and then only for a few hours. The relatively low velocity airflow allows the natural convection of cool air to pervade the main level.

  • Tapping into the Southern California climate, architect and owner Frank Pasker and his wife, Grit, deliver a dwelling that nearly negates the grid.

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    Tapping into the Southern California climate, architect and owner Frank Pasker and his wife, Grit, deliver a dwelling that nearly negates the grid.

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    Jill Paider

    Tapping into the Southern California climate, architect and owner Frank Pasker and his wife, Grit, deliver a dwelling that nearly negates the grid.

  • Custom Douglas fir-veneer plywood cabinets warm up the contemporary kitchen, featuring Energy Star appliances from Miele and Bosch and EuroStone quartz countertops. Pendant LED lights are from ET2 Contemporary Lighting. Miele: 800.843.7231. www.mieleusa.com. Bosch: 800.944.2904. www.bosch-home.com. EuroStone: 310.967.8000. www.eurostonequartzcountertops.com. ET2 Contempo-rary Lighting: 800.486.2946. www.et2online.com.

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    Custom Douglas fir-veneer plywood cabinets warm up the contemporary kitchen, featuring Energy Star appliances from Miele and Bosch and EuroStone quartz countertops. Pendant LED lights are from ET2 Contemporary Lighting. Miele: 800.843.7231. www.mieleusa.com. Bosch: 800.944.2904. www.bosch-home.com. EuroStone: 310.967.8000. www.eurostonequartzcountertops.com. ET2 Contempo-rary Lighting: 800.486.2946. www.et2online.com.

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    Jill Paider

    Custom Douglas fir-veneer plywood cabinets warm up the contemporary kitchen, featuring Energy Star appliances from Miele and Bosch and EuroStone quartz countertops. Pendant LED lights are from ET2 Contemporary Lighting. Miele: 800.843.7231. www.mieleusa.com. Bosch: 800.944.2904. www.bosch-home.com. EuroStone: 310.967.8000. www.eurostonequartzcountertops.com. ET2 Contempo-rary Lighting: 800.486.2946. www.et2online.com.

  • The seldom-used heating and cooling system and backup tankless water heater share space with the red greywater tank.

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    The seldom-used heating and cooling system and backup tankless water heater share space with the red greywater tank.

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    Jill Paider

    The seldom-used heating and cooling system and backup tankless water heater share space with the red greywater tank.

  • An innovative cladding system consists of a rainscreen barrier behind phenolic panels of high-pressure laminate that effectively manages incidental water and delivers a higher level of thermal value. The air space between the rainscreen and the cladding adds an extra insulating barrier; cellulose fiber and thermosetting resins bonded by heat and pressure create a nonporous, insulating panel system. Arpa USA: 212.334.6888. www.arpausa.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmp3010%2Etmp_tcm131-1552781.jpg

    true

    An innovative cladding system consists of a rainscreen barrier behind phenolic panels of high-pressure laminate that effectively manages incidental water and delivers a higher level of thermal value. The air space between the rainscreen and the cladding adds an extra insulating barrier; cellulose fiber and thermosetting resins bonded by heat and pressure create a nonporous, insulating panel system. Arpa USA: 212.334.6888. www.arpausa.com.

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    Jill Paider

    An innovative cladding system consists of a rainscreen barrier behind phenolic panels of high-pressure laminate that effectively manages incidental water and delivers a higher level of thermal value. The air space between the rainscreen and the cladding adds an extra insulating barrier; cellulose fiber and thermosetting resins bonded by heat and pressure create a nonporous, insulating panel system. Arpa USA: 212.334.6888. www.arpausa.com.

  • An R-38 insulated roof topped with a reflective, standing-seam metal roof from Custom-Bilt Metals is fitted on its west-facing side with a 3.2-kW PV array of 185-watt solar panels from Mitsubishi Electric and a pair of solar thermal collectors from Heliodyne. Custom-Bilt Metals: 800.826.7813. www.custombiltmetals.com. Mitsubishi Electric: 714.220.2500. www.mitsubishielectricsolar.com. Heliodyne: 888.878.8750. www.heliodyne.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmp3011%2Etmp_tcm131-1552782.jpg

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    An R-38 insulated roof topped with a reflective, standing-seam metal roof from Custom-Bilt Metals is fitted on its west-facing side with a 3.2-kW PV array of 185-watt solar panels from Mitsubishi Electric and a pair of solar thermal collectors from Heliodyne. Custom-Bilt Metals: 800.826.7813. www.custombiltmetals.com. Mitsubishi Electric: 714.220.2500. www.mitsubishielectricsolar.com. Heliodyne: 888.878.8750. www.heliodyne.com.

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    Jill Paider

    An R-38 insulated roof topped with a reflective, standing-seam metal roof from Custom-Bilt Metals is fitted on its west-facing side with a 3.2-kW PV array of 185-watt solar panels from Mitsubishi Electric and a pair of solar thermal collectors from Heliodyne. Custom-Bilt Metals: 800.826.7813. www.custombiltmetals.com. Mitsubishi Electric: 714.220.2500. www.mitsubishielectricsolar.com. Heliodyne: 888.878.8750. www.heliodyne.com.

  • For a cooling climate like Southern Californias, designer-owners Frank and Grit Pasker optimized a sloping, north-facing lot for passive cooling and ventilation that in large part enabled them to achieve their net-zero electrical energy goals. In addition to aluminum-framed, thermally broken windows and patio doors from Arcadia Architectural Products, the deep roof overhangs were computer-modeled for ideal shading value. 800.423.6565. www.arcadiaproducts.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmp3012%2Etmp_tcm131-1552783.jpg

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    For a cooling climate like Southern Californias, designer-owners Frank and Grit Pasker optimized a sloping, north-facing lot for passive cooling and ventilation that in large part enabled them to achieve their net-zero electrical energy goals. In addition to aluminum-framed, thermally broken windows and patio doors from Arcadia Architectural Products, the deep roof overhangs were computer-modeled for ideal shading value. 800.423.6565. www.arcadiaproducts.com.

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    Jill Paider

    For a cooling climate like Southern California’s, designer-owners Frank and Grit Pasker optimized a sloping, north-facing lot for passive cooling and ventilation that in large part enabled them to achieve their net-zero electrical energy goals. In addition to aluminum-framed, thermally broken windows and patio doors from Arcadia Architectural Products, the deep roof overhangs were computer-modeled for ideal shading value. 800.423.6565. www.arcadiaproducts.com.

  • Frank Pasker

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    Frank Pasker

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    Courtesy Frank Pasker

    Frank Pasker

 

The Nob Hill Haus is a lesson in perseverance. Built on one of the last lots in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles, just north of the city’s downtown core, the 2,400-square-foot, three-level home has overcome a gauntlet of challenges, from gaining local approval for its greywater recycling system to a huge pine tree that nearly crushed it during a windstorm last year.

But architect and owner Frank Pasker and his wife, Grit, soldiered on, knowing and trusting that what they envisioned as the most efficient use of land, water, and energy for single-family housing in SoCal’s arid climate would win out.

A year after move-in, the Paskers were proven right. The home’s comprehensive passive solar design supplemented by a modest 3.2-kW PV array and solar thermal collectors delivered net-negative electricity use, an estimated 8,487 kilowatt hours per-year improvement (factoring an 837 kWh/year surplus) compared with the average L.A. home.

Meanwhile, a year ago, the couple drew the last possible drop of water from a once-full, 1,500-gallon, below-grade cistern used for a gravity-fed irrigation system ... just in time to have it refilled by seasonal rainfall for the following summer. Overall, the couple uses only about a third of the city-supplied potable water their fellow Los Angelenos consume.

“We are able to see, not just guess or model, how little energy and water you really need to get by and still live comfortably,” says Frank Pasker, a German-born and -educated architect raised to respect natural resources. “It requires a different way of thinking.”

Pasker’s past and perspective served him well when he and Grit bought the 0.2-acre site with an enviable view across Pasadena to Mount Baldy. The orientation perfectly suited a cooling climate-specific passive solar design: With the front of the house at the top of the sloped lot facing south and the west side shaded by mature trees, Pasker took advantage of the cooler north face to limit the amount of heat gain on the home’s largest and most exposed elevation.

While the orientation isn’t ideal for daylight harvesting, the home’s open floor plan, central staircase, and high-performance, thermally broken windows in key locations throw ample amounts of natural light deep into the interior spaces; fixtures fitted with CFL and LED lamps—powered by the PV array—deliver what little artificial light is needed.

More important, the design helps cool the house without much mechanical help. Deep overhangs, precisely modeled by computer per each elevation, further limit heat gain, as does the ventilated phenolic panel siding and the reflective metal roof fitted with R-38 insulation.

But it’s the Paskers’ use of a natural stack effect that carries the bulk of the cooling load. Simply, the open-riser central stair (with help from a ceiling fan) draws cool air from open windows in the basement and drives the hot air through clerestory windows along the top floor. The effect is so efficient that it took a heat wave last July before the couple used the A/C for the first time, and then only for a few hours a day while their neighbors’ equipment hummed along well into the evening.

This exemplary application of passive solar design not only holds the key to the home’s energy efficiency but also serves as a reminder that some ancient ways aren’t obsolete. “People forget about passive solar and have tried to replace it with technology,” says Pasker. “You can accomplish a lot by going back to the basics.”

The Paskers’ vision of a truly net-zero energy house was dashed when they learned that California’s Title 24 energy specs required them to use natural gas for either space or water heating. “For the cost of the line connection, we could have almost doubled the PV array,” laments Pasker.

So, they used that energy resource to power a 4-ton, two-zone split heating system that’s rated at 98% efficiency. The gas line also serves indoor and outdoor cooking appliances and the tankless water heater that (rarely) supplements the solar water system.

The couple ran into more bureaucracy when they sought approval for separate greywater and rainwater recycling-irrigation systems, for which the local building department had to establish new procedures to evaluate and permit.

“The clerks at the desk weren’t familiar with this kind of system, so our request went straight to senior officials who were very supportive,” he says.

Nob Hill Haus thus became the first residence in L.A. ever permitted for a greywater system and set the bar for others to follow; it’s also part of a six-house pilot program of greywater recycling systems headed by the county health department.

But even that hurdle came after the Paskers were forced to rig a fiberglass septic tank into a suitable cistern. “The biggest rainwater collectors we could find were 55 gallons,” he says. The modified 1,500-gallon tank filters and collects rainwater from the home’s roof and multiple decks for gravity-fed irrigation into multiple deep tree wells; the separate greywater scheme, meanwhile, collects water from faucet and shower drains to serve fruit trees on the property. The systems are not only safe and healthy but also extremely water efficient.

All those challenges—including the most recent, when the neighbor to the west pruned some trees, altering the solar heat gain on that elevation—roll off the couple’s broader perspective. “When you think long term, you’re a winner in a short-term society,” he says. “We’re not chasing a fast return on our investment. This place has been designed and built for the long term.”

Project Details

Name: Nob Hill Haus, Los Angeles
Size: 2,400 square feet
Lot size: 0.2 acreCost: $250 per square foot (including land and permits)
Completed: April 2011
Certification: GreenPoint Rated by Build It Green
Architect: Frank Pasker, Los Angeles
Interior and Lighting Design: Grit Pasker, Los Angeles
Energy consultant: Tailored Energy Services, Stockton, Calif.
Structural engineer: David Reith & Associates, Simi Valley, Calif.
Rater: Keith Lilley, Pasadena, Calif.