A San Francisco architect erects a self-sustaining building in a dense urban neighborhood.
Eco-minded architect David Baker lives, works, and constantly experiments at Shotwell Design Lab, a compound he owns in San Francisco’s Mission District. When he realized he could build a second residential unit in the rear of the property, Baker saw an opportunity to design a demonstration project that tested the latest innovations in sustainablity. The 712-square-foot Zero Cottage became the first net-zero, LEED Platinum, GreenPoint Rated, Passive House-certified residence in San Francisco after its completion in 2013. Passionate about hands-on exploration, Baker designed many of the building elements and furniture himself. Tiny details abound, illustrating the level of attention required for building net-zero in a city. “The beauty of Zero Cottage is that it doesn’t rely on a lot of advanced technology,” Baker says. “On a basic level, these things are within a lot of people’s reach today.”