The remodel of this Berkeley apartment building allowed us to implement all of the standard energy efficiency improvement measures on a typical mid-century building.  We added insulation in the walls, ceilings and under the floor.  We replaced all of the rattling single pane aluminum windows with double pane wood.  We also upgraded the energy systems, installing heat pump heaters, solar hot water panels, and LED lights.  The building is now energy efficient,  all electric, and ready to go zero net energy with the installation of photovoltaic panels. 

Since remodeling, the 4 units score in the 9.9 out of 10 range on EPA’s Home Energy Star Yardstick. 

While reducing energy consumption is a priority, the carbon and environmental footprint of architecture is equally significant.  Currently over a building’s whole life, embodied energy of the building materials accounts for roughly 20% of a building’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint.  However, in the first 20 years of a building's life, this can be 50% or more. Low-carbon materials provide net GHG emissions reductions now, when GHG emissions reductions are most effective and are needed most because of the delayed impact of GHGs and the self-reinforcing loops that GHGs trigger.

Prioritizing low-carbon construction, we used salvaged, recycled and resource efficient materials where ever possible. 

  • Blown in cellulose insulation, made of recycled paper, in the walls and ceilings,
  • Recycled cotton insulation under the floors,
  • Salvaged wood interior cabinetry,
  • Salvaged granite counters,
  • Earth plaster floors
  • Earth plaster walls, and
  • Cork exterior siding.