Monthly Archives: December 2012

In Your Neighborhood – Modernized 1950’s Home in Orinda

This recently completed addition and remodel to a 1950’s tract home in Orinda created a more light filled, open, energy efficient and comfortable modern house with a more efficient plan.  The rear of the house now opens to a newly landscaped garden designed by Jarvis Architects for indoor/outdoor living to fit a contemporary lifestyle for a family of four.  A dry stone creek for the outdoor spa shower provides surface drainage, turning excess ground water from an issue into a feature.

In addition to the more common upgrades of energy efficient lighting and appliances, solar PV for electricity and thermal panels for water heating, the following improvements were included as part of a deep energy retrofit:

Thermal envelope:

  • Improved air tightness with ‘eco-seal’ at walls and spray foam insulation at roof
  • Extra insulation at walls, floor and roof, including heating ducts within the thermal envelope for added energy efficiency.
  • Added passive cooling comfort with ‘cool roof’ shingles.


  • New furnace with ventilation feature: ‘Lifebreath’ high efficiency hybrid furnace with built-in ‘heat recovery ventilation’ (HRV) circulates continuous fresh, clean, tempered air throughout the house.

‘Home Energy Rating System’ (HERS) inspections to verify improved thermal efficiency and create eligibility for state rebates and credits:

  • ‘Quality Insulation Installation’ (QII) inspection
  • Blower door test for air tightness of thermal envelope. Vastly improved air seal rating approaches ‘passive house’ standards.
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