Driving by Jason, Melissa, and baby Sebastian Burnett’s home in the quaint coastal town of Carmel, California, you’d never know it’s LEED Platinum–certified. The 3.44-kilowatt solar array and rooftop vegetable garden are tucked out of street view and the recycled-denim insulation is hidden in the walls. Inside, the Control4 and Lutron lighting smart-home systems manifest only as a small touchscreen placed unassumingly in the office.
Sustainably renovating their home was a matter of common sense for the couple. "It was an opportunity to push the envelope and practice what I preach," says Jason, a former energy and climate-change policy advisor at the Environmental Protection Agency; a founding partner of Clean Fund, a company that finances renewable-energy projects; and a Carmel city council member. "We went through our laundry list of requirements—new siding, insulation, fixtures, and heating system—and realized that if we did just those things we’d probably earn at least LEED Silver," Melissa says. When the couple teamed up with local firm Carver + Schicketanz, principal Mary Ann Schicketanz encouraged them to consider pursuing Platinum. Modern green homes have been Carver + Schicketanz’s bread and butter for more than two decades, and the Burnetts saw this as an opportunity for its work to be recognized. By making smart, small, and sustainable decisions at every step, the LEED points quickly added up.