This house proves that sustainability and luxury can go hand-in-hand, writes Andrew Conway.
There was a time not so long ago when sustainability in home building meant an off-the-grid, deep-in-the-woods log cabin with a rainwater tank, outside toilet, and hippie-style owners looking like Willie Nelson and Joni Mitchell. How times have changed.
An innovative developer based in California is proving that luxury and sustainability can co-exist in style and harmony. A spectacular new zero-carbon residence in oceanside Malibu proves this harmony. The zero-carbon home is a fusion of cutting-edge home building, technology and design.
“This home will have zero carbon emissions throughout its lifetime,” says Scott Morris of Crown Pointe Estates, the creative driving force behind this ground breaking home, one of four zero-carbon residences planned for the Marisol Malibu enclave between now and 2025.
The first of the so-called ‘Zero Series’ was completed in July 2021 and became California’s first zero carbon-ready home. That’s a title that was given by the International Living Furniture Institute (ILFI), the world’s most rigorous green building standard. It also meets the exacting standards of the Paris Agreement treaty on climate change.
The concept has been brought to life by experts in architectural design, structural engineering and carbon planning. Together they have delivered a chic coastal home that sets a new benchmark in sustainable luxury.
In collaboration with leading Malibu architects Burdge & Associates, Beyond Efficiency (energy design) and STOK (carbon planning), Morris and his climate-conscious team took an entirely holistic approach to the zero-carbon concept.
The meticulous blending of carbon-neutral components from construction to interiors and landscaping has culminated in a contemporary six-bedroom ranch-style home. The zero-carbon home is set in a hectare of private gardens, without sacrificing an iota of luxury or design.
“Buildings and construction are responsible for 39 per cent of global carbon emissions,” says Morris. “We asked ourselves how could we do this better, and we started by finding better alternatives for a bunch of conventional materials.”
Building for the future
The net zero and carbon reduction construction strategy included extensive use of sustainable timber, steel with the highest available recycled content, 25 per cent recycled cement, recycled insulation, and a 99 per cent recycled aluminium roof.
The home is 100 per cent electric. It’s powered by solar panels, Tesla batteries, Ventura County’s 100 per cent renewable energy electric grid. There’s even an electric car charging station.
Appliances are all electric as well. The list includes induction cooktops, water-vapour fireplaces, ventilation and water heating. It also features a hydronic heat pump system distributing energy by way of heated and chilled water throughout the home, which is more efficient than transporting air.
High-end fittings comprise Poliform kitchens; Miele appliances; Caesarstone countertops; American white-oak timber floors; a wine room for 800 bottles; and a home theatre. Throughout are works by artists such as Brad Howe, Miguel Osuna and Todd Williamson, among others.
Even the landscaping does its bit for the planet: the entire hectare revegetated with native species, the addition of an organic vegetable garden, and an apiary tended to by a beekeeper.
The new owners will also have to play their part. They will need to submit 12 months of utility bills to demonstrate their electrical usage is under a certain threshold for the home to continue receiving ILFI Zero Carbon Certification.
The residence is on the market for an eye-watering US$32 million (about A$43.5 million). The price is buoyed by its rock-star oceanfront location – but the zero-carbon concept remains uppermost in the 34-year-old developer’s mind.
“Governments aren’t mandating this – they are not telling us we need to build with zero emissions, so we have taken it upon ourselves,” says Morris. “We want to keep pushing boundaries, so that other developers hopefully see the success that we have and choose to build differently.”
He also believes the concept can go mass market. “We are a tiny microcosm of building on a global scale, so the only way we can make a real impact with this is for other people to take it up,” he says, citing Australia as an obvious candidate.
“I’m not familiar with the home-building regulations in Australia, but it has abundant timber, solar power, natural resources, and the climate is very similar to California,” he says.
Morris is committed to driving his zero-carbon building strategy forward with a sense of purpose. “The most gratifying part is other people looking at the zero-emission devices we have put in our homes – like the water-vapour fireplaces – and saying: ‘Wow, I love that, I’m going to do that’,” he says.
“Our stated mission, our goal, is to accelerate the advent of zero-carbon construction, and we fulfil that purpose when someone else says ‘I’m going to use what you’re using or build what you’re building’,” he adds.
“I don’t say I’m a builder or a contractor – I say I’m a ‘director of carbon sequestration technology’. All I want to do is prophesise and pass on building methods and products that lower our carbon footprint.”