How Lighting Design Factors into a Green Home
March 30, 2012 - 3:53pm

Sometimes a dream can take years to come to light. For David Gottfried, that’s not a moment too soon.

Gottfried, the founder of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the World Green Building Council (WGBC), and CEO of the consulting firm Regenerative Ventures, realized both a personal and professional dream recently when he turned his family’s Craftsman bungalow into a green masterpiece. The home, located in Oakland, CA, has since become the highest-rated LEED-certified dwelling in the United States, scoring 106.5 points out of a total 136 and earning the coveted Platinum certification. The renovation project wrapped late last year and, astonishingly, took just over 12 months to complete.

“We didn’t want it to take forever, Gottfried says. “We were anxious to move in. We wanted to be able to afford the renovation, and we wanted it to be the highest level of green possible. We also wanted it to be attractive and aesthetically pleasing. And, we wanted to showcase green technologies.”

The home, which hadn’t been renovated in more than 60 years, was chosen for a number of reasons. Situated in a highly walkable area, the house had rooms for the couple’s two children and a large backyard for gardening. Gottfried chose an existing structure over new construction to demonstrate how easy greening an older home can be. He was also able to save precious building materials by leaving the majority of the home’s structure intact.

The biggest changes to the home can be seen in the kitchen and bathroom, both of which were stylishly updated and fitted with Energy StarT fixtures and appliances. The roof sports solar panels for hot water and to generate electricity, and the home features both greywater capture—wastewater from dish washing, laundry and bathing—for the garden and rainwater capture for the toilets. The original windows were replaced with energy-efficient, low-emissivity, double-pane windows from Marvin.

For lighting needs, Gottfried first looked to the sun.

“We opened up the whole layout [of the home] for daylight,” he says. “Craftsman [designs] tend to be dark, so we took out all the central walls between the kitchen, dining room and hallway. That opened everything up and allowed for daylight from both ends of the house and all sides to intersect.”

Gottfried’s wife, Sara, took the lead on the project’s interior design, choosing all the lighting fixtures. The Gottfrieds used only compact fluorescent or LED light sources and chose several fixtures that were both energy-efficient and attractive, including several pieces from Matthews Fan Company/WPT Design.

“Getting LEDs and sourcing them was hard,” Gottfried says. “The offering of conventional fixtures [with LEDs] was very thin. I have a couple LED floodlights that are solar-powered, and they have occupancy movement sensors. I would have liked to have done [all the lighting design] with LEDs.”

Gottfried continues to make improvements to his green home, striving for his ultimate goal of “zero-electricity.” In the meantime, he says he’d love to see someone beat him to the challenge.

“I’d love everyone to [give greening their home a try],” he says. “Let the games begin.”

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Finally someone with some

Finally someone with some sense about green lighting solutions! Everyone is saying use skylights and in this region so much cooled or heated air would escape from them. Climate should be factored into the decision to use skylights. I am all for them in a place like Arizona or Texas where there is little need for heating and cooling. It seems like LED is the best solution for providing proper lighting while cutting energy consumption costs.

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