Sustainable design for homes and interiors

The Hillside House, designed by SB Architects, is a statement of what is possible combining design with high sustainability.


This modern home has received Platinum certification as one of only a handful in Northern California. The Hillside house is a four story building features living and private zones situated on multiple separate floors. Numerous outdoor and covered terraces and balconies capitalize on stunning views.

The LEED for Homes rating system, administered by the US Green Building Council, is a nationally recognized standard for the design and construction of high-performance green homes; a platinum ranking is the highest rating attainable.

Designed to maximise passive heating and cooling, this home is designed with solar orientation for photovoltaic panels. To be sustainable, the home also features a solar hot water system, radiant floor heating, whole-house automation and LED lighting system, and water-conserving plumbing.

While the casual flow between indoor and outdoor spaces are more suited to a temperature climate, it also reminds occupants of the benign climate and of Mother Nature in general. "We wanted to demonstrate that a sustainable house is comfortable, not a white cube hermetically sealed in a factory," says Scott Lee.

All interior spaces are designed to make maximum benefit of sunlight, with at least one exposure and few interior partitions. This configuration reduces the amount of conditioned square footage in absolute terms, and enhances natural ventilation within those spaces that are enclosed. Windows are floor-to-ceiling, expansive doors and movable windows enhance passive cooling, and opening those apertures and flushing the house can allow the interior temperature to drop five degrees in as many minutes.



Green design features include:

Interior concrete finishes are fashioned from recycled aggregate. Western Red Cedar siding and beams combine with metal accents and purposeful symmetry to lend a rustic yet sophisticated feel to this modern home, while locally crafted and sourced elements, including recycled-content ceramic tiles and custom benches made from fallen tree trunks, support Lee’s desire to highlight sustainability.

The top floor of this residence is essential one large space that incorporates living, dining and an outdoor family room. Says Lee, "It helps that the kitchen is elevated by one step, so if you're the unlucky one doing the after-dinner dishes, you are still part of the action!"

Almost every room in the LEED Platinum certified home has a balcony or deck, essentially doubling the living space

What is LEED design?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) consists of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighbourhoods. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is intended to provide building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.