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Integrated Solar Resides in LA

Credits: ©2007 Inhabitat

The gorgeously green Beitcher Residence is a paragon of sustainable California architecture, showcasing a design partnership between eco-conscious client and forward-thinking architect. Designed by W3 Architects out of Venice, California, the Beitcher Residence blends the client’s functional requirements with a variety of sustainable design strategies including passive solar design, state-of-the-art solar electric and solar thermal technologies. Nicknamed “The Integrated Solar House for Los Angeles,” the Beitcher Residence makes full use of the mild climate and the year round sun in the City of Angels. The Beitcher Residence integrates green technologies including direct gain passive solar heating in the form of trombe walls made of 8″ CMU block walls and earth berms. Passive cooling and ventilation of the house are achieved through a two story thermal chimney which takes hot air up and out. Floor to ceiling windows, sometimes two stories in expanse, bring in maximum natural light into the residence, minimizing the need to turn on any light fixtures during the day.


Integrated Solar in LA

Designed by W3 Architects to optimize solar energy, the integrated solar home in Los Angeles also utilizes recycled materials. ©2010 W3 Architects

W3 Architects also incorporated the latest state-of-the-art solar technologies including an active solar thermal water heating system that heats the domestic hot water, in-floor radiant heating, the pool, and the spa. Energy use is offset through an installation of 5.0 KW solar electric photo voltaic system that helps power the low voltage lighting system integrated throughout the house.

Renewable materials are also incorporated, including some of our favorite materials. Bamboo, often seen as flooring, was put to use as a ceiling material (shown below) throughout the main level of the house. Palm wood was used as flooring through the second story. All the cabinets throughout the house are made of Strawboard capped off by Cesar stone countertops, and post-industrial denim insulation is hidden within the wall cavities throughout the house.

The Beitcher Residence harnesses the power of the sun in a variety of different ways and proves that the right team, sustainable architect and eco-friendly client, can bring about a home that is sustainably extraordinary in a very ordinary way.

The Beitcher Residence was conceived by W3 Architects as a showcase of modern sustainable design for an extremely eco-conscious family.

This “beyond compliance” integration of sustainability was driven by the joint vision of architect and client. At W3 Architects a fundamental goal is to seamlessly blend client program requirements with sustainable design strategies, passive solar design, state of the art solar electric and solar thermal technologies and a wide spectrum of ‘green’ building materials.

The residence is a two story, 4,160 sq. foot, passive solar dwelling including a communal living space connected to the dining, kitchen and outdoor living spaces; sitting room; sewing room; 3 bedrooms; 3 ½ bathrooms; Upper Level exterior covered deck and a “crash pad” for visiting children doubling as a home office.

The placement of the house responds to the San Vicente Blvd. condition on the North and to a desire for optimal solar orientation from the East and South. The project owners and architect, as a team, sought and received specific adjustments to Santa Monica’s strict setback and stepback ordinances to allow vertical stacking along the North and to allow the second floor to extend to the West, creating full Southern exposure. Through these site-specific adjustments both a more optimal solar orientation and a maximized amount of open space (64%) were made possible.

Sustainable Design Features:

Passive Solar Design

• Direct gain passive solar heating that utilizes 8”thick

concrete block walls and exterior earth berms for

thermal mass

• Passive cooling and ventilation that utilizes a two

story thermal chimney

• Day lighting throughout

State of the art active solar thermal and solar electric technologies:

• Active solar thermal water heating system which heats

the domestic hot water, in-floor radiant heating and the

pool and spa

• 5.0 KW solar electric photovoltaic system

• Low voltage lighting system throughout

Wide spectrum of “Green” building materials:
• FSC Western Red Cedar exterior cladding

• Bamboo main level ceiling

• Strawboard cabinets throughout

• Post industrial denim batt insulation

• Trust joist floor framing

• Pau Lope decking

• Palm wood upper level flooring

• Cesar stone counter tops

• Exposed steel moment frames


W3 Architects (California, USA)