Green Buildings of San Mateo County

Taiji House Exterior


The TAIJI House, a simple one-story house located on a third of an acre, is a simple balanced celebration of green design principles in a residential plan. The clients enthusiastically share the architect's focus on green design, taking seriously the commitment to "do no harm." These values are reflected in all material choices and details from the bamboo flooring to the hand-carved dragons made from salvaged lumber. The integrated team of mechanical engineers, solar and lighting consultants and dedicated green builders and designers allowed for a successfully built, environmentally responsible, passive solar building.

Green Building Details

  • Built with a long north/south exposure making it ideal for passive solar design

  • Sun path studies were used to place overhangs, skylights and clerestories for optimal conditions of natural light, ventilation and control of solar gain

  • Thermal mass walls constructed of concrete block, exterior foam insulation, and interior natural clay plaster help in keeping the indoor temperature between 70 and 73 degrees

  • A radiant heating system with a boiler backup provides warmth from the floor

  • Taiji Library
  • Floors are made of a fly-ash concrete mixture to preserve natural resources

  • Natural cooling and ventilation by utilizing prevailing east to west breezes, cooling the building through strategically located high and low windows within the long, east/west circulation atrium

  • The use of Forest Stewardship Council certified wood and recycled and engineered framing reduces the need for new wood

  • The natural clay walls are from American Clay, which have natural pigments and recycled, reclaimed aggregates

  • Outdoor walkway coverings are supported by steel columns clad in treated Douglas-fir laths, formerly studs in the existing structure that were salvaged when the old house was deconstructed

  • Salvaged lumber used for interior cabinetry, the entry gate, and a special pair of hand-carved dragons celebrating the project team's commitment to green building practices

  • Installed 100% recycled cotton and cellulose insulation

  • Taiji Living Room East
  • Painted with low VOC paint

  • Rainwater is retained on site through use of percolation areas and pervious, permeable concrete surfaces outside

  • Native plants were predominantly used in the landscaping

PV System Details
Capacity of photovoltaic system: 5.6 kW
Solar array: 32 Kyocera 175 watt panels
Annual amount of electricity generated by PV system: approximately 8.1 MWh

Project Team:
Architect: Osborne Architects
Builder: Drew Maran Construction
PV system: REC Solar
Owners: Scott and Jackie Wood