Casa Cielo is the newest design and masterpiece creation of Architect | Builder Jim Satzinger, AIA, a contemporary creation utilizing the newest and finest in design, construction, technology, sustainable materials, energy efficiency, and aesthetics. Located on the top of Santa Fe’s north side on Brownell Howland Road, uninterrupted mountain and valley views abound to the north and south including those overlooking the Tesuque Valley and city lights of Santa Fe. Casa Cielo is a 3 bedroom, 3 bath main home (2,860 SF) and a 1 bedroom, 1 bath guest house (830 SF) on 2.45 acres, completed in the Summer of 2016 with a HERS Rating of 23, and winner of Best Energy Efficiency and Best Water Efficiency awards in Haciendas – A Parade of Homes 2016. Casa Carolina, the previous home designed and built by Satzinger Design, won numerous and prestigious awards including Emerald by Build Green New Mexico, a Merit Award for design from the American Institute of Architects Santa Fe in 2015, and with a HERS Rating of 16, won three green awards during the Haciendas – A Parade of Homes 2014. The opportunity to own Casa Cielo is one that presently awaits its new, very fortunate owner. VIEW CASA CIELO VIDEO.
Site and Plan Concept:
The residence and guest house of Casa Cielo are carefully placed within a West-sloping ridge to maximize connection to the natural landscape, seasonal solar exposure, and views to adjacent and distant mountains and valleys. Subtle manipulation of the terrain yields a site plan and composition of building forms reminiscent of European hill towns as well as cliff and earthen berm dwellings of local Native Americans. The linear floor plan wraps around a South courtyard and a North portal affording a variety of exposures and balanced natural light. What rises from the ground is a hierarchy of materials, textures and colors well rooted in tradition while expressive of modern composition and serenity.
Features and Lifestyle:
Indoor and outdoor living areas are open, inviting and encourage the all season lifestyle that we strive for in New Mexico. These linked spaces invite social interaction as well as quiet contemplation and enjoyment of the orientation of the home and views within and surrounding the property. The residence features three private bedrooms, each with an adjacent bath, that can be used for a variety of purposes, can be multi-use, and can evolve over time as needs change. The guest house has an open living area with dining alcove, bar and kitchenette, as well as a private bedroom and bath. Overall character and detailing is of the highest standard in materials and craft, is focused on ease of use and maintenance, and represents the best in design for living in 2016.
Resource Management, and Energy and Water Saving Materials and Systems:
Sustainable building practices and materials, storm water catchment and drip irrigation, energy saving LED fixtures, and photovoltaic solar electrical generation all contribute to superior efficiency and a HERS rating of 23. The footprints of the indoor improvements are isolated from the exterior by an insulated barrier that wraps both the inside and outside of all walls, floors, and door sills providing increased interior comfort and reducing energy needs. The thermal break and seal at exterior door sills is particularly innovative in today’s energy efficient design models.
The wall and roof envelopes include the latest in insulation and air barrier strategies. Exterior walls are composed of 2×10 bottom and top plates, with 2”x6” studs staggered on the exterior and interior faces, and are completely filled with blown fiberglass insulation. A ½” sheet membrane with taped seams forms the exterior air barrier and fiber reinforced, breathable cement plaster composes the drainage plain and completes the wall system. Rigid insulation and the staggered studs significantly reduce the area of contact between the exterior and interior wall planes. Doors and windows average better than .3 U-value and glazing design and Solar Heat Coefficient is based on exposure. Passive solar elements on the South provide naturally warmed interiors in winter, and exterior and interior shading devices control heat and glare.
The structural roof framing is an engineered truss system, is sloped 3/8” per foot for superior roof drainage and provides a sealed cavity filled with blown fiberglass insulation of 16” to 24” in depth. Above the trusses a reflective membrane keeps heat buildup within the roof cavity to a minimum while air intakes over windows, in stuccoed recesses and sheet metal shrouds draw cool air that is convected in a mini attic across the entire roof and then exhausts out through roof vents. The roofing membrane boasts a reflective aggregate and a high Solar Reflective Index. The temperature differential across the roof cavity is greatly reduced, providing a roof/ceiling assembly that is a shading element rather than a heat-radiating element. Cooling needs are greatly reduced or eliminated even in the hottest months.
All exposed timbers, wood decking, siding and trim is milled from standing-dead Douglas Fir trees that were harvested from Santa Clara Canyon in the aftermath of the 2011 wildfire.
Electrical system demand is greatly reduced by LED fixtures and lamps used in 95% of the project, the balance being warm florescent fixtures in utility areas and closets. Lighting levels in living areas and exterior spaces are managed and customized with an intuitive and energy saving lighting control system. Exhaust fans are activated by occupancy sensors and all appliances are Energy Star qualified. A 4.6 KW Photovoltaic solar system is easily monitored, will greatly reduce electrical bills and will bank electricity when the house is not occupied.
Domestic hot water is produced in an indirect water maker that is heated by a high-efficiency condensing boiler. Hot water circulation is provided by a smart pulse pump that remembers use requirements and is designed to minimize the length of hot water piping. Zoned Hydronic under-floor heating is also provided by the high-efficiency condensing boiler.
Cooling, if and when needed, is available from a state of the art Evaporative Cooling system that allows variable volume cool air flow throughout the home while providing guilt-free indoor-outdoor living on the warmest days. Fresh air supply and stale air exhaust is provided by an Energy Recovery Ventilator.
The Irrigation System is supplied by a storm water catchment piping network and a cistern. Stone and gravel swales provide passive irrigation during a rainfall. All native and semi-native plant materials have been chosen to minimize or eliminate the need for future watering, and irrigation delivery is zoned to provide specific plant species requirements and minimize evaporation. Interior plumbing fixtures are all low flow and Energy Star Waterwise.
James A. Satzinger, AIA, NCARB, Architect
21 July 2016
Santa Fe, New Mexico