Like many new homeowners seeking to realize the home of their dreams, Rian and Melissa Jorgensen had a simple set of must-haves—nothing too extravagant, something that was tailored to their needs (they have two young kids), boasted a strong commitment to environmental stewardship, and had an enviable connection between indoors and out. Drawn to the aesthetics and ethics, prefab seemed like the right route, but eventually proved to be cost prohibitive.
Their starting point was the Glide House designed by prefab maven Michelle Kauffman. "They were interested in the cost benefit and the sustainability aspect of it," says Feldman. "They were proponents of the fact that if you built it in a factory there is far less waste and inefficiencies. It can get assembled on-site quickly, so there's also a price benefit labor-wise."
However, the Jorgensens wanted to modify the design to the point that the budgetary benefits from prefab were nullified by the changes. "They had this epiphany that they tweaked this house so much that it was essentially custom. Why not embrace that?" says Feldman.
So embrace custom they did, with a tailor-made energy-efficient green home with a strong connection to the outdoors. The naturally day-lit, 2,400 square-foot house is divided into two perpendicular sections, hence the project's name, the "2 Bar House."
"The owners came to us and said, 'We want a small house and we know that we just sleep in our bedrooms and there's a lot of wasted space there. We'd like to put that space into an open room where the family is going to spend time together. We'd also like that space to be adjacent to the yard because we spend a lot of time outside since the climate is so nice,'" says Feldman. "Their wise directive and how it translated into the plan and overall design is what I'm most proud of and excited about in this home."
The 2 Bar House boasts all the usual green design suspects: energy-efficient lighting, good insulation, renewable material finishes, radiant heat, and the roof is pre-wired for future PV panels. "People often say that you shouldn't be able to put on solar panels before you've put in good insulation and have an efficient heater and take care of those things wasting energy to begin with, " says Feldman. "You should reduce your consumption to begin with before you harness more power."
Though the "invisible" green design elements carry the lion's share of the measurable environmental benefits, the most stunning attribute is the living roof designed by Lauren Schneider of Wonderland Garden and planted with succulents, aloe, viviums, and ice plants that flower in swaths of white and purple.
"It was a tough call," says Feldman of the roof. "Green roofs are more expensive than regular roofs and we were tied up against a budget all the way through. But we liked it conceptually and from an environmental point of view. The master suite looked out over this shiny, white roof. It could have been this thing that was kind of unfortunate, or it could be this secret garden, and so it became this splurge, this luxury for us to create this garden."
"I'm absolutely glad that we did it," says Melissa. "It turned out so well and I really enjoy sitting up there and taking advantage of it as much as I can. It's very peaceful."
When everything was said, done, and built—green roof splurge and all—the home still came in at a modest $300 per square foot.
"Working with a family that was so conscious about creating a house that would shape the way their family would live, that appreciates modern design, and that had such a strong commitment to sustainable design proved to us that inspiring clients, rather than large budgets, often lead to the best designs," says Feldman.
A New York-based writer, Diana studied art history and environmental policy at UC Davis. Before rising to Senior Editor at Dwell—where she helped craft product coverage, features, and more—Diana worked in the Architecture and Design departments at MoMA and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She counts finishing a 5K as one of her greatest accomplishments, gets excited about any travel involving trains, and her favorite magazine section is Rewind. Learn more about Diana at: http://dianabudds.com