Getting Ink in the San Jose Mercury News

It was Los Gatos Little League Day today and we were there with Nik and Kate for the opening ceremonies (Nik is playing AAA on the Red Sox and Kate is playing Machine Pitch with the Orioles). 

After the ceremonies, Jo-Anne walked with Nik and Kate a few blocks to Starbucks to burn some energy and get some coffee.  Our neighbor, Kel Marchbank, was there and said, ‘Saw you guys in the San Jose Mercury News today.’

Way, way cool …

San Jose Mercury News, April 4, 2010

San Jose Mercury News, April 4, 2010

How Eichler’s ‘California Modern’ is going green
By Judy Peterson
Bay Area News Group

When real estate developer Joseph Eichler started building homes in Northern California in 1950, he targeted middle-class home buyers who appreciated the houses’ light and airy architecture that eventually became known as California Modern. With skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out onto gardens, patios and pools, the houses reflected Eichler’s vision was to “Bring the Outside In.”

Fast forward to the 1960s, when Eichler set his sights on Monte Sereno, building a 16-house subdivision on Via Sereno, off Winchester Boulevard. One of those Eichlers is being rebuilt to reflect what could well be called California Green. The new California style is sustainable, healthier homes, with many homeowners trying to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Homeowners Bryan and Jo-Anne Mekechuk bought their 1969 Eichler in 1997. At the time, they had no children. Now they have two, plus they needed room for visiting grandparents. So, it was time to remodel.

At first, the couple considered adding a second story.

“A second floor on an Eichler is not appropriate,” Mekechuk says.

Instead, they took the house apart board by board and dug a basement. Even so, Mekechuk says the home will remain true to Eichler’s vision.

“We kept all the design,” Mekechuk said. “The footprint of the house is identical. For example, the garage door is in the same place.”

Well, almost identical. Besides the basement, 18 square feet was added and three windows were moved. But two windows at the front of the home are identical and Eichler’s trademark atrium will be rebuilt.

Mekechuk is reusing 100 percent of the original home’s redwood boarding, while adding structural insulated panels-styrofoam insulation sandwiched between plywood. Mekechuk gets LEED points for that. The LEED rating system gives homeowners points that, when added up, can determine if a house is LEED certified or if it is certified as silver, gold or platinum. Mekechuk is shooting for platinum.

The Mekechuks also get points for holding educational open houses.

But it is the guts of the house itself that will determine if they reach their platinum goal. That’s why a cistern was dug to capture rainwater that will irrigate drought-tolerant plants. Polished concrete floors are a key element as well.

“It’s easy to keep concrete clean, plus it doesn’t trap dust and dander,” Bryan Mekechuk says. The concrete floors are composed of 70 percent slag. “Slag is a byproduct of steel production. Slag usually goes to the landfill,” he adds.

The house will be heated and cooled by a geothermal system.

“Geothermal takes warm water out of the ground and uses it to heat the house through tubing in the concrete floors,” Mekechuk says. “Cooling is the reverse of that.”

Mekechuk also plans to put 48 solar panels on the roof.

“Monte Sereno is really pulling out all the stops to encourage this kind of project,” Mayor Don Perry said at a recent open house. “We’ve waived all permit fees for solar panels. We’re really proud of this project.”

Mekechuk expects his new “Eichler Green” to be completed by late October.

© San Jose Mercury News.

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