Santa Cruz Haus

For the Santa Cruz Haus, the client approached Feldman Architecture with a strong desire to create a home which pushed the envelope in terms of green technologies but was also economically sustainable. Originally from Germany, the clients are very familiar with progressive sustainable technology and believe that sustainability should be affordable. They moved to California in order to explore opportunities to develop affordable, green single family homes, deciding to use their own home as a prototype to not only test ideas, but also to promote and educate others.  The site selection was extremely important to the success of the project; the site is walkable or bikeable to school and shopping, connects to public transit, is accessible to neighborhood services, and offers the potential dense development with an accessory dwelling unit.

As the neighborhood is characterized by craftsmen homes, the façade is meant to blend with the surroundings but also offer a glimpse of the modern home beyond the oversized windows at the entry porch. Programmatically, the house needed to work well for an active family of five with both parents working regularly from home. The main floor is primarily occupied by a great room with kitchen, dining, and living areas flowing out onto the generous backyard through large oversized sliding glass doors. A double sided eco-fuel fireplace between the living room and outdoor courtyard further reinforces the concept of indoor/outdoor living. 

The garage has an electric vehicle plug-in station and provides plenty of storage for the family’s beach cruiser bicycles for easy rides to and from the nearby beach. The position of the garage provides enclosure for the backyard which is used throughout the year given the mild weather in Santa Cruz. The entry and adjoining mud room provide plenty of built-in cabinetry to accommodate a variety of storage needs for the family’s active lifestyle. Also, an open steel and wood stair leads to the 2nd level with a generous galley of custom built-in toy storage and bookshelves. On the opposite side of this storage galley are three kids’ bedrooms, each with their own play loft and views of the backyard and beach beyond.  A small office/guest suite sits at the back of the lot for privacy and is connected to the main house by a trellised patio.

The Santa Cruz Haus earned LEED Platinum certification, and is a Zero Net Energy Home. The 21.8-kw photovoltaic system supports space heating and domestic hot water demands using only electricity generated on-site, and is supported by a super-efficient air source heat pump. The house takes advantage of a rainwater system for indoor and outdoor use and a greywater system for irrigation with constructed wetland for on-site treatment - both are the first of their kind in Santa Cruz. Many of the materials used on the project are sustainably and locally sourced, including the tanoak flooring and hand-made tiles. The design team took care in construction to limit the impact on the environment, using advanced framing techniques in tandem with use of pre-cut FSC/engineer lumber and diverting 97% of the construction and demolition waste.


General Contractor: Testorff Construction

Landscape Design: Hyphae Design

Structural Engineer: Fulcrum Structural Engineering

Energy Consultant: Monterey Energy Group

Photography: Paul Dyer