This gold house: With green features, Sunny Cove home goes for LEED gold

From the Sentinel By Gretchen Wegrich

LEED Gold Seal When it comes to building green, there are leaders and there are followers. With the help of local architect Stephanie Barnes-Castro, a Live Oak couple recently became the first in the county to register their home for Residential Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification.

Longtime county residents Bud and Rebecca Colligan found inspiration in their unique oceanfront property in the Sunny Cove area.

“We wanted to build a home that was integrated into the coastal environment and also was as energy-efficient as possible,” Bud Colligan said. “We wanted our home to be beautiful, understated, low-maintenance, energy-efficient and be open to the views and coastline of this unique property.”

With the help of Barnes-Castro, Keenan Construction Company and interior designer Carla Carstens Design, the Colligans’ dream is becoming a reality.

A greener future

In 2000, in response to rising public interest in fighting climate change by conserving natural resources, the U.S. Green Building Council created a green building certification process for architects and homeowners.

“There is absolutely a drastic need to make changes in the way that we utilize material and in the way that we dispose of materials,” Barnes-Castro said of the status quo in construction.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program rates the design and construction of homes, taking into consideration factors such as construction materials and methods.From the Sentinel By Gretchen Wegrich Based on a point system, a construction project qualifies for one of four levels of certification: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

LEED certification is available for all types of construction including remodels. There are a few commercial/educational buildings in the county that achieved LEED gold, but currently no residential.

“Just like any certification, the LEED certification is there to inspire people; it’s not the final goal,” Barnes-Castro said, noting it is possible to exceed the requirements set by the LEED program.

A house to grow in

The Colligans’ Geoffroy Drive home overflows with sustainable design features, such as solar orientation and shaded windows.

“We love the canopies that shade our windows — they provide both an energy-efficient design element and are unique and aesthetically pleasing,” Bud Colligan said.

The home was built with closed-cell insulation, termite protection and extreme water-proofing. The design also incorporates high-efficiency appliances and plumbing, radiant heating, and heat-recovery ventilation to provide fresh air when doors and windows are closed, as well as other sustainable design features. The home was built using Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood, a certification that means wood is grown, harvested and managed in a sustainable manner. The exterior of the home features a zinc-coated copper roof with a lifespan of about 100 years and a native plant landscape.

“We paid a lot of attention to things like double-paned windows, blown high-performance insulation, radiant heating, sustainable wood products, and energy-saving lighting,” Bud Colligan said, adding that documenting each step of the project was an important part of the certification process.

The former house on the oceanfront property was deconstructed and the materials donated to the ReUse Network.

By the numbers

While the construction costs of building a LEED-certified home are likely to be higher than traditional construction, homeowners taking the “long view” will see their investment pay dividends in energy savings and materials that withstand the wear and tear of time, Barnes-Castro said.

“Some of the simplest measures to make a home energy-efficient are the most cost-effective,” she said, noting that in addition to passive solar design, insulation and airtight construction were two inexpensive and vital factors that could be incorporated into just about any budget.

“There is a range of choices and I think there is something for everybody”, she said.

Barnes-Castro is currently designing a home on Santa Cruz’s Westside with an aim of exceeding the Residential LEED Gold certification standards.

“When I have an opportunity to design a home, I have an opportunity to make a difference,” she said. “The motivation is to help people find a way to live more in harmony with the Earth.”

Registration and fees for LEED certification average around $2,600 a project, according to the Green Building Certification Institute. Certification is granted on the recommendation of a third-party professional.

The Colligans worked with Sharon Block of Bright Green Strategies in Santa Cruz.

For more information or to register a project for LEED certification, visit

View the original article from the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Published in Nov/Dec 2002 issue of Builder/Architect
By Toula Hubbard

Craftsman Pool at Night

This home radiates at night, making the courtyard a beautiful place for entertaining. Photography by Abe Ajlouny. This 8,000 sq. foot home was designed to harmonize with the site and neighboring homes. The materials consist of exterior cement plaster with ledge stone base, timber columns and trellis. The color palette was selected to suit the existing natural surroundings. The garage is sensitively tucked behind a porte cochere to minimize the visual impact from the street. Architecture by Hayer Magnus Architects, roof construction by Alliance Roofing, quarry slate roofing materials supplied by Big Creek Lumber, plastering by Castle Plastering, painting by Corralitos Painting, landscaping by Far West Landscape, security system by First Alarm, concrete by Tom Ralston Concrete, mechanical by Richard Denton Mechanical, windows by Somerset Door and Window, garage doors by A-1 Overhead Door, Electrical by McDow Electric, outside radiant heat by Montano Plumbing, masonry by Kevin McElinny Masonry, negative edge pool by Precision Pools

Jack Keenan is known throughout the Central Coast as a hands-on contractor who pays extraordinary attention to detail. Working closely with clients, architects, designers and subcontractors, he keeps each project moving smoothly and efficiently.

Born in Chicago, Jack’s family moved frequently due to his father’s work in the military. After living in many places, including Italy and Germany, his family settled in Monterey in 1968.

A zoology and environmental science major at San Jose State, Jack received his contractor’s license in 1977 and started his construction career building solar homes. In fact, he has been credited with building the first solar home in Santa Cruz. Today, Keenan Construction builds high-end, custom homes for clients on the Central Coast. His entire business is based on client referrals, which has kept him busy close to his home in Aptos.

Choosing to keep his company small and living up to the high standards he set for himself, Jack Keenan is about quality, not quantity. “I build only about one or two homes a year, which allows me to work closely with my clients and everyone involved in the construction process. When I work on a large project like this one, it is for years, not months, so there is an education we go through together and a friendship is formed.&rdqou;

Building homes of this caliber is a major undertaking, and a conscientious builder like Jack Keenan respects the monetary and emotional investment his clients are making. Therefore, he’s available to clients to guide them through every stage of development. Many of his clients are self-made individuals who are savvy in their fields but never realize how hard it is to build a house and the high costs that are involved. “It is a constant learning experience for everyone”, Says Jack Keenan.

Jack Keenan

Featured builder: Jack Keenan. Photograph by Abe Ajlouny

The featured “courtyard style” residence, designed by Hayler Magnus Architects of San Diego who was “Inspired by the client’s appreciation of the Arts and Crafts architecture in a modern, open plan layout. Indoor rooms open to outdoor spaces that encourage alfresco dining and gathering” explains Hector Magnus, former Principal architect, now in his own practice.

According to Magnus, the terracing, landscaping and hardscape design were created to capture the views towards the Monterey Peninsular. The southfacing courtyard, which includes a negative edge pool and outdoor sitting area with fireplace, utilizes the prevailing breezes for natural cooking in the warmer months and captures solar energy for warming in the cooler months. The design also features radiant heat underneath the outdoor patio for yearround eating and entertaining.

Jack’s position and dedication to his work is self-evident in this 8,000-square foot Craftsman house located in Aptos. The intricate details involved in the design and construction of this custom home created a two-year project for Keenan Construction. Therefore, keeping a solid relationship with his clients, architect and sub-contractors is a vital key to Jack’s success as a home builder.

When Hector Magnus was asked about hi experience working with Jack Keenan, he had this to say: “Rarely do I find myself expressing such optimism and enthusiasm about any builder in particular, Jack Keenan is one exception. His professional attitude, attention to detail and excellent follow-up skills are just a few of this gentleman’s traits. In custom home building, much of the project’s success lies in the relation that the general contractor has developed client, architect and all of his trades. Jack’s knowledge of all aspects of building, his ability to foresee potential issues and his easy-going demeanor provide the environment needed to orchestrate excellence. I am proud to have worked with Jack Keenan and all the craftsmen he brings to a project. He is the master builder you want to work with again and again, myself included.”

When asked to offer advice to builders starting out in the business Jack says not to worry about how many projects you build early on “Just build the best product you can and the work will come to you once you’ve established a good reputation.”

A good reputation is something Jack has plenty of. From past clients to colleagues Keenan Construction has earned a reputation as one of the most respected and admired builders in the area. Interior Sonja Knutsen agrees, “I’ve been in this business 20 years and nobody is as organized, professional and well-liked as Jack Keenan. I only hope I get to work with him again because it was a wonderful experience.”

For more information on this house call Keenan Construction at (831) 662 8600

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