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January 18th, 2011

Rainwater Harvesting and Irrigation Continued

 We have been designing large-scale residential and commercial rainwater harvesting systems in California since 1997, primarily for irrigation use in the landscape. We like to consider our landscapes that incorporate rainwater harvesting as “closed loop systems,” as we begin the design by determining our end-water usage.   It Starts with Plant Selection   It starts with the [...]

January 6th, 2011

Wading Through Green Standards

You’ve probably heard of LEED, (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and maybe if you’re in California you have heard of GreenPoint Rated or the eminent CALGreen Code, but wrapping your head around how these standards compare and what they mean to your building project can be a big task.  In this article, I’ll try [...]

December 21st, 2010

Sustainable Sidebar: Add a Little ‘Green’ to Your Home, Inside and Out


Advances in green technology and a fondness for reused or reclaimed materials have led to more innovative and creative sustainable products for the home. As a new addition to Green Architecture Notes, we will be posting a new section on products that we find to be perfect examples of how green IS beautiful, practical, and inspiring.  [...]

December 7th, 2010

Cork: What makes this material so special?

Cork is a fantastic, 100% natural, material that has been used as an insulting material for years, although is not well known by most of the people working on sustainable and zero carbon projects.  So what makes this material special?  Cork is the bark of Cork Oak (Quercus Suber), collected every 9 years and later [...]

November 18th, 2010

Green Focus: Green is Beautiful by Claudio Santini

Green is Beautiful

As a new segment of Green Architecture Notes, we plan to periodically share images from talented photographers and authors who are focusing on Sustainability and Design.  Our inaugural post is drawn from the aptly named Green is Beautiful book by photographer Claudio Santini and Dafna Zilafro.  Green is Beautiful offers 30 stunning residences each exemplifying [...]

November 5th, 2010

Green Business Spotlight: Energy

From time to time, the Editors of Green Architecture Notes turn the spotlight on businesses where sustainable products or technologies have been implemented in a move toward a more environmentally-conscious practice. Mueller Nicholls, a General Contractor and Cabinet Shop in Oakland, California, is one such business which is leading by example through a pioneering effort to [...]

October 28th, 2010

Fly Ash in Concrete

There has been a lot of discussion recently about fly ash in concrete as there are concerns about heavy metals in this by-product of coal fired power production.  “Replacing Portland cement is a high priority for all of us…” Russell Perry, Smith Group.  “The Environmental Building News” (Alex Wilson) continues to support the use of [...]

September 14th, 2010

Designing Living Roofs – Part 2

I’ve had several reasons for designing living roofs and have faced many challenges in implementation. Luckily living roofs can come in many forms and serve many purposes. In this post, I will try to briefly walk you through the second of my forays into this exciting and challenging subject. For our House Ocho project in [...]

August 31st, 2010

Designing Living Roofs – Part 1

I’ve been exploring various aspects of living or green roofs since I first started my own architectural practice about ten years ago. In fact my very first project was to fix up a shingled Victorian in San Francisco. It had a tiny garage in front of the house dating back to 1912 and a nice [...]

August 6th, 2010

Cottage On The Green

cottage entrance

My wife, Cathy, and I really liked our one-story cottage near downtown Palo Alto, but the floor plan didn’t work for us at all. The most direct path to the backyard was through the master bedroom, and loving to backyard-entertain as we do, running through our bedroom with plates of meat headed to the grill [...]