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The New Green

An eco-friendly home in Bird Rock is just as beautiful as it is efficient.


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photo by Chipper Hatter

Going green today transcends sorting paper and plastic or swapping Styrofoam for melamine. Today’s green means smarter technology, lower utility bills, and fewer toxins, all while improving, not hindering, modern-day practicality.

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The new green is pushing the envelope in construction and functional design, and this San Diego home shows just how easy green can be. From the frame to the guts, sustainability became the norm for a San Diegan remodeling a modern beach home designed with  entertaining—and the ability to check out the morning surf—in mind.

Perched upon the cliffs of La Jolla and just a few short blocks from the cozy, walk-able neighborhood of Bird Rock, the white two-story home isn’t sprawling and outlandish, but instead gleams with modern surfer-boy charm. And while it meets rigorous LEED certification criteria, the homeowner and designers didn’t walk into the project with green building in mind. “It just made sense,” notes contractor Paul Spadone of Streamline Development, whose goal, along with architect John Rumsey of MPA Architects, was to “build it right,” which morphed naturally into “build it eco-friendly.”

What began as a side project to spruce up an ordinary rooftop, now a swanky outdoor barbeque and lounge area that could easily handle a party of 30, turned into an entire overhaul to focus on the longevity of a home much in need of waterproofing, drainage, and durability improvements.

Designer Kristianne Watts of KW Design used architectural details to integrate both form and function, ensuring the house was as durable and sustainable on the inside as it was attractive. Practical upgrades such as recessed metal-like baseboards, full height aluminum pocket doors and ceramic floors make for both easy cleaning and a contemporary aesthetic that resonates throughout the house. Warm wood tones, rich textures, and custom art—like the black coated aluminum panel created by Noe Welding Design that hides a stairwell and serves as a focal piece to the room—downplay the crisp, cool lines of the coastal modern design.

When it comes to longevity, a Waterboy whole-house water filtration system ensures that just about every water-using appliance will last a lifetime. Huge fans installed under the home turn on automatically to control the moisture levels and to keep AC bills low. Even the GreenFiber and ComfortFoam insulation in the ceilings add structural value and help to drown out heavy footsteps from party-goers on the top level.

Between the oversized Wieland folding doors that bring the outside in and the concrete kitchen countertops (made of recyclable material) that invite folks to crowd around, this Bird Rock home was built for entertaining and enjoyment. And the decision to go green? That just came along for the ride.

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