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The Hillside Home is Sustainable Living at Its Best

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The Hillside House by SB Architects

Nestled in the hills of Mill Valley, California, this custom home is the first LEED for Homes Platinum certified house in Marin County, and one of only a handful in the state of California.

The versatility of Eldorado Stone is seen in a highly contemporary designed home in Northern California that has earned LEED-H Platinum certification. This is considered the highest possible level of distinction one can achieve in the building industry for sustainable building practices. LEED certification is a rating system created by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and is the oldest and most rigorous rating system in the world.

Located across the bay in Mill Valley from San Francisco, the “Hillside Home” as it is called, is the first LEED-H Platinum custom home in Marin County, California and only the second home in all of Northern California to achieve this goal.

The home was designed by Scott Lee, President of SB Architects in San Francisco. “My wife and I wanted to move to Marin County to give us more space and a closer proximity to the great outdoors where we could raise our children,” says Lee. “When we began contemplating the idea of building a home on the lot we purchased, we wanted to keep with the architectural character found in the area — you’ll find an extensive use of natural materials, stone and wood in homes here. We also wanted to build something highly sustainable to reflect our architectural style and commitment to sustainable building practices.”

The home is approximately 2,000 sf and features 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. “It feels much larger due to our efficient use of space and our indoor/outdoor design in several areas,” says Lee. “We have a very steep, small lot that made access very difficult and often challenging during construction, but ultimately, we have created a very fine and livable house.”

Mike McDonald of the Margarido Group/McDonald Construction and Development Company collaborated with Lee due to his expertise in building sustainable homes and the relationships he brought to the project. The design and approval process took two years and the actual construction took another two years, says Lee. “We’re finally feeling settled as of March 1, 2010, so it’s been a four year process highlighted by the fact that we have just received our LEED Platinum status, which is icing on the cake.”

Lee explained that their design intention was to make the home feel like a modern cabin in the woods, so there is an extensive use of Western Red cedar, both as an exterior siding and as part of the interior decor. “We wanted to find a stone color to blend with the cedar as well as the stucco,” he says. “It needed to be a natural color for the area and very believable for that region. Having a high recycled content was also important to us when choosing our stone. Lee had worked with Eldorado on the Ritz Carlton Resort in Rancho Mirage in the past and he knew he could count on the stone’s look of believability after his client remarked at the time, “I thought we couldn’t afford real stone?” when standing just two feet away from the installed Eldorado Stone.

“After that experience, we knew we wanted to work with Eldorado Stone again,” he says. “I wanted the stone in this project to help visually tie the house permanently to the ground so we used it along the retaining walls, on the base of the house, the chimney and other areas of the exterior. We selected Eldorado’s Montecito Cliffstone with added recycled content that earned us additional LEED points,” he says. McDonald adds, “From the builder’s perspective, we chose Eldorado Stone for its aesthetics, costs and its sustainable features. We were able to achieve the desired architectural look, beat our budget goals and know that the product we were using was far more sustainable than quarried stone or alternate manufactured stones,” he says.

“Everyone at Eldorado Stone was extremely helpful and responsive, bringing us several samples to review and providing us with the kind of interface that we as designers love,” continues Lee. “It makes the process so much more enjoyable and ensures that we create better results when reps are so knowledgeable,” he admits. McDonald agrees, “Tina Gonzales and her colleagues were and are incredible to work with. Tina truly understands the term ‘partner’. All around our experience with Tina and the Eldorado Stone team was outstanding!



LeonGames says:

I really love this house! Great job on designing this one.

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soulinthewall77 says:

This house and the Margarido House (Oakland, CA) are my two most favorite
houses, ever. I’ve seen many beautiful houses. But, these two houses are
the only ones I’ve ever cared to see myself in. 🙂 !

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