Casa Aguila will arguably be the most advanced home ever built in San Diego County, looking to achieve many firsts for our region. It will be San Diego's first Certified Passive House, seek the County's first onsite wastewater treatment permit, seek the County's first permit to utilize all collected rainwater for all indoor water use, and strive for eventual grid-disconnection through utilization of battery power, Solar PV, and a 45-foot wind turbine (the blades alone are 17 feet tall!).

The project is located in Ramona, CA and is named for the Golden Eagles which frequently fly over the property.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Dual Axis Solar Trackers Installed By Precis Solar

Our project partner Precis Solar just finished installing the PV panels on our three Deger Dual-Axis trackers. Check out this one - our first tracker in a production position! Just a test, but it does look great!

Why Deger Dual Axis Trackers?
These trackers are the most productive panels per watt in all of California. Dual Axis Trackers are capable of omnidirectional tracking, unlike trackers that rotate on one axis (east-west) or are stationary (like roof-mounted systems). They use a technology called Maximum Light Detection, which means a device detects the point where the sun's radiation is most direct, and angles the tracker in that direction. This is different from astronomical tracking, which is the most common dual-axis tracker technology that follows where the sun should be in the sky, because is not necessarily pointed directly at where the sun is in the sky. It often is affected by reflective cloud or ground cover. This results in the maximum possible energy harnessed. 

The Microgrid and Precis Solar // Challenges and Solutions
At Casa Aguila, our goal is to push the envelope of energy efficiency in residential design. Because there are not many residential microgrids to model after, we have gathered many talented engineers and energy experts to design a system to eventually take Casa Aguila off-grid. Included in this team is Precis Solar, our awesome solar installer and Project Partner. They have been a huge factor in getting the solar and battery system to comply with County codes and remain a viable solution for the project.

The 22.1 kW solar PV array and 3.2kW wind turbine will be connected the house and to a 2.27 kW Outback EnergyCell backup battery. 


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Another Certification! Going for Living Building Challenge Petals.

We have decided that we are so very close to being able to pursue 3 Living Building Challenge Petals, and most very likely as well the LBC Net Zero Energy Certification, that we are going for it in addition to all the other certifications we are seeking.

Whereas Passive House is the pinnacle of energy efficient building, Living Building Challenge is the pinnacle of Green Building overall.  Full LBC Certification is extremely difficult to achieve, it is the most rigorous green building certification out there.

Our gratitude goes to Wayne Longdon of San Diego HERS Services who will be lead on helping us achieve these certifications.  Wayne is a founding member of the Living Building Collaborative Chapter here in San Diego, and fully understands the process of achieving LBC Certifications.

We know we are working towards the Energy and Water  Petals, and we are now working to identify the third Petal we hope to achieve (likely Beauty + Spirit.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2500 New Gallons of Rainwater!

With 9 x 10,000 gallon welded-steel tanks, we have a total of 90,000 gallons of storage capacity.  3-tanks will hold up to 30,000 gallons of rainwater from the roof, and 4-tanks will hold up to 40,000 gallons of stormwater collected from area drains around the grounds of the property.  Rainwater from the roof is the primary source for all indoor water use, and stormwater from the site is dedicated to irrigation and fire suppression.  One of those four stormwater tanks is dedicated to fire suppression (we are required by the county to have one 10,000 gallon fire suppression tank.)

The rain over the last few days brought us around 2500 gallons of rainwater off of the roof.   We estimate that water will provide about 20-days of indoor water use.  If we keep getting rains like this in the next month, we should not have to fill the rainwater tanks with any municipal water prior to move-in.   Keeping our fingers crossed!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Project Partner Workshop 2015

We learned so much at the Project Partner Workshop last week, and we hope you did too! A HUGE thanks to our project partners for coming out and teaching us about leading edge sustainability techniques in their fields.

Enjoy the event pictures below :)

Attendees in the Sustainable Building Materials Workshop
Precis Solar gives a presentation on the energy system during the Energy Track
Kevin Muno of Ecology Artisans describing the Food Forest
Sam Harb of One Sphere gives a presentation on the whole house monitoring system. This system will provide usage data for energy use, energy generation, available energy resources, water resource levels, and water consumption. Not only will this assist us in analyzing the performance of the home over time, it will provide feedback to the owners in order for them to learn how to best operate their home. A smart home requires smart occupants, and occupants cannot be smart without feedback.
Jesse goes over the Food Forest, which will be irrigated by greywater and blackwater
Hi Jesse!
Rich Williams and Denise Homme enjoying the reception
Anne Middleton of Phase Change Energy Solution tells us about BioPCM, a phase change material that increases the thermal mass of the building envelope, thus reducing HVAC loads
A full street of cars lined up for the workshop!
CertainTeed's Kristi Davis discussing their VOC-absorbing drywall
Installation of the 3 Deger dual-axis trackers

Monday, October 19, 2015

Wind Turbine installation

1 pettibone lift, 8 men, and weeks of site preparation later, the turbine is erected! Check out the time lapse footage:

Wind turbine fun fact: Vertical axis turbines (such as the one in the video) are often safer for birds because they register them as solid objects and can therefore avoid them. Traditional horizontal axis turbines appear 'invisible' when moving quickly, and birds often collide with them in flight.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Thanks for coming out!

We enjoyed discussing the unique components of Casa Aguila with you yesterday at the Green Homes Tour! Thanks so much for coming out. We hope you had a good time as well, learned something new, and were able to check out some of the other great sustainable homes in San Diego :)

Beautiful Eurowest tiling

3 of 8 10,000 gallon rainwater storage tanks 
AGB cofounder Rich Williams and site supervisor Jesse Heilig leading a tour up to the turbine

Rich Williams and architect Andrew Wilt discuss the turbine

The terraced food forest will be irrigated by blackwater and greywater

Rich discusses Phase Change Material with two tour-goers

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Don't miss out on the 2015 Green Homes Tour!

This Sunday, October 4th between 10 am - 4 pm the USGBC will be hosting the Green Homes Tour! This is a chance for you to see some of the most environmentally-conscious homes in San Diego and to learn about how to green your own home. There are 7 homes to see this year that vary greatly in their approaches to sustainability.

AGB has two homes on the Tour this year (Casa Aguila in Ramona and the Greisman Residence in Carlsbad), so make sure to say hi to us if you come by! Here's a peek at some of the homes and features below, or view the whole brochure here.
**Please note, there was a last minute change and the Jaska Nolan Residence in Encinitas is no longer on the tour.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Greywater, stormwater, and blackwater

You can see the food forest irrigation system starting to develop! This will be irrigated by San Diego's first residental blackwater recycling system.

Not even a 5 ton boulder can get in our way! We've met our fair share of them on this project.

Floorboards installed in the living room

Say hello to the first of eight 10,000 gallon rain and stormwater collection tanks

Two of the storage tanks in the distance

Thursday, August 27, 2015

You're invited to Archtoberfest!

AGB is gearing up for Archtoberfest, San Diego's Architecture and Design Month! October is going to be filled with events and activities featuring innovative architecture, design, planning, and sustainability around San Diego.

There will be TWO opportunities to tour Casa Aguila during Archtoberfest, so come and say hi! Here are the event details:

OCTOBER 4th, 11am - 4pm
The Green Homes Tour is an annual self-guided tour hosted by the USGBC. Members of our staff will be at Casa Aguila to give tours and discuss features of the home. Registration gives you access to visit any of the homes on the tour. It is $5 for USGBC members and $15 for non-members, and you can register at the link below.

Green Homes Tour registration link:

OCTOBER 14th, 11am - 8pm
The Project Partner Workshop will consist of 20 minute demonstrations put on by the many project partners of Casa Aguila. Some of these partners include the manufacturers of the solar trackers, wind turbine, energy management software, and many more. Attendees are welcome to come to any or all of the presentations.

Project Partner Workshop event link:

Please contact Katie Teare at 858.449.5208 if you have any questions. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

August Update - Blackwater Treatment, EV Charging, and more

Tigre of Ecology Artisans doing the site prep work for the "Food Forest" which will be provided irrigation from 100% of the wastewater from the home (both black and graywater.) Check out their site at:
The irrigation plan by Ecology Artisans for the Food Forest
Solar Thermal panels being installed by Adroit Solar. The panels will provide water heating for not only domestic hot water use, but also for hydronic radiant floors, pool, and the spa.
Jeff and Jesse walking across the Red Guard slip sheet that goes between the concrete slab and the tile that will soon be installed.
The new concrete slab in the courtyard, soon to be tiled over. The palms look great!
Gutters being installed
The Water Heating Equipment Room. Daikin Altherma unit installed on the wall to provide backup heating, if required, to the Solar Thermal heaters. Waiting for the storage tanks to arrive to be installed adjacent to the Daikin unit.
Lots of material have arrived on site, waiting for installation.

Electric Car Charger has been installed in the garage.