It is a simple approach. Sustainable architecture looks to the future by looking at the past.
~ Stephen Gist

US Green Building Council

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design


LEED Certification

LEED certification is a tangible expression of the Owners’ desire to design and build the DTS Project House to a high level of energy efficiency and environmental responsibility. The DTS Project House is complying with the requirements for USGBC’s LEED for Homes platinum certification. The sustainability consultant VCA Green was engaged to partner with mills studio and the Owners to assure that sustainability goals are achieved.    

Among the goals of the DTS Project House is to demonstrate how sustainability can be so integrated with design and technology that the visual and spatial experience is one of architecture and not “sustainable” or “green architecture.” LEED compliance has the potential to devolve into a segregated endeavor if the goal of the project is LEED certification. The architectural agenda, of which sustainability is one important aspect, will determine the design strategies, building systems, choice of products and materials, and detailing of the DTS Project House. LEED certification will be a confirmation that the design choices and implemented building systems are creating a stustainable building.         

DTS Project House LEED Compliance

Design Process

1. Project Team
The Project Team consist of an Architect, Structural Engineer, Mechanical Engineer – LEED AP, Electrical Engineer, Lighting Designer-LEED AP, Landscape Architect – LEED AP, Civil Engineer, Pool and Spa Designer, Certified Irrigation Designer, and Sustainability Consultant – LEED AP, Green Rater and accredited for LEED for Homes.
2. Team Process
Project team involved in Schematic Design, LEED planning, energy and envelope systems analysis and design, design development, working drawings and specifications, and construction.

3. Design Charrette
All day design charette conducted with team members.


4.  Building Orientation

  • Building is laid out on east-west axis with major fenestration facing south and north. Any East and West facing fenestration is shaded with thermal mass screen walls.
  • Sloped room of approximately 30 degrees faces south with 1500 square feet of area oriented appropriately for solar applications.
  • South facing glazing is shaded by devices projected for complete shading at noon on June 21st and unshaded at noon on December 21st.

Innovative Design

5. Shading Devices
Shading devices by “BioTecture” double as solar colectors providing for heated water.

6. Gabion Screen Walls
East and West Elevations are protected and shaded with freestanding gabion walls filled with both recycled concrete and rock providing shading and release of heat at night.

7. Thermal Masses
Exposed concrete floors and walls are used as thermal masses cooling during the day and releasing heat at night.

8. Solar Chimney
Five story central shaft with operable skylights at top allows hot air to rise by convection and is drawn out through skylights controled by home automation system equiped with temperature sensors.

9. Vehicle Turntable
Parking area is equiped with vehicle turntable allowing smaller parking footprint thus reducing local heat island effects.

10. Home Automation
KNX home automation system controls heating and air conditioning, lighting, shade control, energy management, skylights, irrigation, etc. and is integrated with home weather station.

11. Electric Car Chargers
Electric car charger is provided in two locations.

Site Location

12. New house is built on previously developed lot with existing infrastructure of sewer and water.
Site is located within ½ mile of basic community resources, transit services, and public open spaces.

Sustainable Site

14. Landscape Plan
Landscape Plan preserves existing native drought tolerant trees and plants (including existing cactus) and removes the few existing invasive plants. Plan does not include any areas of traditional turf. Less than 40% of property is developed.

15. Irrigation System
Irrigation system is designed by Certified Irrigation Designer with central shutoff valve,   utilizing drip irrigation with separate zones for each type of bedding area, and is integrated with rainwater cistern system. Irrigation system is controlled by home automation system   programmed to provide irrigation at optimal time of day or night and is integrated with home weather station providing moisture data.

System is designed to reduce irrigation demand by a minimum of 50% of normal usage.
16. Local Heat Island Effects
Necessary paved areas are located in northeast quadrant of site so that building provides shading and specialty shading devices such as sail cloth provide additional shading. Driveways incorporate open pavers with permable areas and are reflective light colored concrete.

17. Surface Water Management
Permable driveway surfaces are employed in combination with a rainwater cistern capturing all rooftop and deck rainwater to control erosion.  Hillside erosion is controlled with a terraced permable switchback trail with natural terracing and retaining walls designed by professionals.

Water Efficiency

18. Water Reuse
Rainwater from roof and decks is collected in cistern system and stored for use in irrigation system.

19. Indoor Water Use
All plumbing fixtures meet U.S. EPA WaterSense specifications and lavatory faucets and showers have flow rates of <  2.0 and and < 1.3 for toilets.

Energy and Atmosphere

20. Windows and Doors
All exterior windows and doors are low E, dual glazed, energy Star Rated with NFRC ratings of .27 SHGC. All exterior doors and windows are shaded with automated shades and / or switched glass integrated with home automation system programmed to operate shades based upon time of day and temperature.

21. Heating and Cooling System
Heating and Cooling system is designed by Professional Engineer – LEED AP with all equipment and ductwork located within conditioned spaces. All equipment is Energy Star Rated with Heat Pumps with 14.2 minimum SEER for cooling and 9.0 HSPF for heating. Professional Engineer -LEED AP will commission completed HVAC System.

22. Water Heating
Plumbing System is designed by Professional Engineer – LEED AP with a re-circulation loop, all hot water piping with minimum R-4 insulation and high efficiency water heater with 0.93 minimum efficiency rating.

23. Lighting
Lighting System is designed by Professional Lighting Designer – LEED Ap with LED fixtures, all fixtures integrated with home automation system and all exterior lighting   on motion sensors.

24. Appliances
All appliances are Energy Star Rated with Energy Star Rated ceiling fans in bedrooms and home gym.

25. Renewable Energy

  • Photovoltaic
    9kW photovoltaic system is designed by Professional Engineer and is scheduled to provide more than 75% or required energy consumption.
  • Solar Water
    Rooftop solar panels and solar shading devices provide both domestic hot water and pool / spa heating.

Materials and Resources

26. Material Efficient Framing
Detailed framing documents are being prepared employing prefabricated wood trusses and metal studs.

27. Environmental Prefarble Products
Products with high recyscled content from local sources are being specified, with emissions meeting South Coast Air Quality Management District Rule #1168

28. Waste Management
Construction Protocols are in place to recycle construction debris including waste packaging cardboard, beverage containers, and building materials. Waster haulers have a minimum 70% recycling rate of construction waste.

29. Demolition
Existing house is being “deconstructed” with all items being recycled. Existing concrete is being recycled for use in gabion walls and site retaining walls.

Environmental Quality

30. Pest Control
Slid concrete foundations and walls along with steel studs provide pest control along with planting away from house.

31. Combustion Venting
Carbon Monoxide alarms are provided on each floor and are monitored by the Home Automation system. All gas fireplaces with doors are vented to exterior.

32. Local Exhaust
All bathrooms are provided with Energy Star Rated exhaust fans connected to timed humidity controls.

33. Space Heating and Cooling
Room by room calculations are prepared by Professional Engineer providing required supply and return air flow with air filters with a minimum > MERV 10.

34. Garage Pollution
Garage is detached with an exhaust fan and no air conditioning.

35. Material Durability

Bathroom tiled walls are floated with concrete over lath and all wet area floors are tile, concrete or other water resistant material. All wet areas or areas with potentially leaking equipment are provided with floor drains connected to sewer system.

Awareness & Education

36. Operation Manuals
Complete manual with all necessary information including proper operation and maintenance of all elements are being provided.

37. Public Awareness
Extensive website with resources, design documentation, and inspiration will be launched to educate professionals and the general public regarding the project’s development. Owner is initiating a “Demo House” contract with all vendors, sub-contractors, and other contracted parties to allow the project to be used as a “Demonstration” project available for tours.

Green issues have been used as a marketing tool. Sometimes these green claims are completely meaningless.
~ Frank Gehry