Solar-Powered Bridge House Inspires Eco-Friendly Living

By:Dan Brunn

December 3, 2019

Equinox Solar System on Bridge House Roof

People often wonder what makes my architectural design philosophy different from the rest – until they walk into a building I’ve brought to life. With every structure I design, whether it is a single-family home, corner café, or retail store, my goal is to create an environment that draws visitors in, heightens their connection with a space and intuitively guides them through it.

I call this purposeful modernism.

Bridge House is one such example, harmoniously integrated into its surroundings so that it feels like an extension of the natural world that surrounds it.

Front of Bridge House in Los Angeles

Passive design lowers energy use

For this project, I wanted to reimagine the high-tech, energy intensive suburban home. The type you’ll find in neighborhoods across the United States, with a traditional front yard, main house, and back yard.

Instead of this traditional mindset, the 210-foot Bridge House is a passive, energy-efficient modern home that bridges a small creek naturally running through the property. It was my fierce intention to achieve a low-carbon footprint without sacrificing comfort, convenience, or creativity.

I feel like I’ve attained this through intentional design. Like, incorporating floor-to-ceiling windows in what would otherwise be a dimly-lit hallway. Throughout the home, natural light filters in during the day, reducing the need for artificial light that relies on electricity to shine. When dusk approaches, a smart energy electric system is programmed to turn lights on and off in harmony with the setting and rising of the sun.

In the kitchen and the laundry room, ENERGY STAR certified appliances also help save energy by reducing the amount of electricity needed to do their jobs. (Since we’re talking laundry, did you know that 90 percent of the electricity in washing is used to heat water? Just switching to cold can save energy – and money.)

Speaking of water, Bridge House also features a whole home water solution to ensure water is managed as smartly and sustainably as possible.

Maximizing the home’s energy efficiency from the start allowed me to then maximize the effectiveness of a high-efficiency solar power system. Because Bridge House already requires such a minimal amount of energy, we were able to install a system that could meet 100 percent of the home’s remaining energy needs. With the sleek appearance of SunPower’s all-in-one Equinox solar solution, only the surface of the panels is visible while precision mounting makes them appear like they’re floating on the roof.

5 ways to green your home

My hope is Bridge House enthusiasts take inspiration from its minimalistic design to green their existing homes. Here are a few manageable steps that can help you live more consciously while saving money.

  1. Install a smart thermostat. Hard data and intuitive monitoring applications have taken the guesswork out of finding the right temperature for Bridge House. Keeping my home, and my wallet, pretty comfy.     

  2. An alternative – or an addition – to a smart thermostat would be automated blinds that can be timed to open or close depending on the hour of day. If you live in a warm climate year-round, for example, you might program your shades to automatically close during peak heat periods.

  3. I am a huge advocate of utilizing a faucet attachment or pitcher that is kept in the fridge for easily accessible filtered drinking water. Not only will this reduce the use of plastic bottles, but it will save money over time. (Did you know that 90 percent of the cost of bottled water is the bottle itself?)

  4. Moving to the outside of the home, consider landscaping with drought tolerant plants and permeable paving. This will reduce how much water you need, while using it more efficiently.

  5. Lastly, if you considered solar a few years ago, it’s time to look again because a lot has changed. In many geographies, prices have fallen 32 percent in the last five years and you can generate clean energy at a cost that’s less than what you would purchase from your utility company.

It’s been a long several years dreaming up and constructing Bridge House, but now that it’s complete, I’m so proud to have a place that demonstrates the true potential of sustainable living – and hope it helps others realize how truly beautiful sustainable living can be.

Visit Dan Brunn Architecture for more on Bridge House and other projects designed with the utmost intention.