Eco Real Estate, Sustainable Construction
The Feichtmeir homestead brings a modern twist to traditional farm life. Image from Todd Jersey Architecture.

Eco Real Estate of the Week: Modern Homestead, California

U.S. Green Technology | Where Main Street Meets Green Street
The Feichtmeir homestead brings a modern twist to traditional farm life. Image from Todd Jersey Architecture.

A true homestead is a residence that includes several buildings and all the surrounding land, which is often used for agriculture or raising livestock. When Mark and Karen Feichtmeir decided to live sustainably with the land, they knew a homestead was the way to go. For help, they turned to the eco real estate designers at Todd Jersey Architecture in Berkeley, California.

The main residence and outbuildings of the eco real estate are nestled warmly among rolling green hills dotted with leafy trees. Todd Jersey used permaculture techniques to create areas that would be suitable for growing vegetables and food, raising livestock, and for allowing the native plants and wildlife to come back into their natural balance.

The “centerpiece” of the eco real estate complex is a 2600-sq-ft home settled against a south-facing slope, an ideal placement for the 10-kilowatt solar PV system that maximizes the abundant California sun. The building’s roof collects rainwater. The halls are earthen–what is called “shot-earth” wall construction. This is similar to the ancient technique of packing earth in as wall-filler and insulation, but the earth-fill is applied with a shotcrete, or gunite, machine. The designers optimized the building to take advantage of passive solar heating, so it keeps naturally cooler in the summer and warmer in winter.

The eco real estate also includes a number of outbuildings, like a three-car garage set above a 50,000 gallon cistern that holds rainwater, a studio that is covered with earth and naturally insulated, and also the geothermal heat pump that provides the eco real estate with its hot water and radiant heat.

Todd Jersey Architecture is one of the premier eco real estate designers in the San Francisco Bay area. They created the first commercial hotel to earn LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in the world.

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