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SUNDAY • February 23, 2014

Energy & water saving Tips A l i st o f i d eas fo r low e r i n g usag e a n d sav i n g m o n ey E 3

Glass panels accordion back, opening an entire wall to the enclosed yard of Jack and Jill Nooren’s La Jolla home, creating one unified living area.

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Martina Schimitschek Special to the U-T


ith a simple palette of natural materials, clean lines and an integrated indoor-outdoor space, Jill Nooren’s La Jolla home is casual, contemporary and planet-friendly. The modern, 2,700-square-foot house is the third LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Platinum certified house in La Jolla. The rating, given by the U.S. Green Building Council, is based on different categories such as water efficiency, materials used, indoor air quality and energy usage. Nooren’s house received 97.5 out of 100 possible points. “Making the house energy efficient started with the design process,” said Joseph Diasparra of Hill Construction, the home’s builder. Jack and Jill Nooren bought the property in November 2009 with the idea of building a green home that would fit their family of four. SEE rebuild • E3

When in drought, pick right veggies Proper garden selections can help keep water use down while still producing a tasty, bountiful harvest

be watersmart

thirsting for IDEAS ON water saving? While the statewide drought hasn’t hit the San Diego region as hard as some parts of California, it’s an important reminder that every resident has a responsibility to make the most of every drop of water in our arid corner of the country.

Debbie Arrington The Sacramento Bee/MCT

Drought puts a decidedly dry spin on garden planning. The thought of water rationing can suck the joy out of seed catalog browsing; which veggies will grow without water? Precious few, if any. But some varieties can still thrive with less water than their thirstier counterparts. And that consideration will be important this spring and summer as it appears California is headed into another parched year. The Sierra snowpack this week was only 25 percent of normal. That’s after 2013, when San Diego’s rainfall was far below normal for the second straight year. Are there vegetables that can still produce on one-third the

Jim Brady photos

Some tomato varieties don’t need as much water. Many heirloom plants will thrive even after the irrigation has been cut back. water? Sorting out those water-saving varieties takes some diligence. In pitching their products, seed companies stress flavor, size, yield and disease-resistance over droughttolerance.

Some vegetables are notorious water hogs. When facing a drought summer, don’t plant corn. Put off the giant pumpkins for a wetter year. Instead, look for compact, heatSEE veggies • E3

In coming months, the San Diego County Water Authority will provide weekly tips and resources in the Home + Garden section for improving water-use efficiency indoors and outdoors. For a full slate of rebate offers, classes, inspirational ideas and practical

tips at any time, go to The website is a one-stop shop for information about this critical topic. Coming Monday on Page A3: A variety of ways — from free to fivefigure projects — to save water inside and outside your home.

U-T san diego | early weekend | Sunday • February 23, 2014


rebuild • Ocean breeze, ceiling fans eliminate the need for air conditioning

Tips for saving energy, water


Iowa transplants, Jill Nooren said they had a huge house in their home state. “We had a lot of unused space and unused things,” she said. With this house, they wanted to conserve both space and resources. But their plan to build a modern, green house from scratch on the property caused some concern in the neighborhood. The original Spanish house on the lot dated from 1927. It was one of the first homes in the La Jolla Shores area, and many neighbors thought it should be preserved. But the house, which was in disrepair, didn’t have historical status, and the Noorens’ plan prevailed. “It looks so different than everything else that’s been built here,” Diasparra said of the new house, which was completed April 2013. Designed by David Keitel, senior associate at domosstudio architecture, the overall rectangular shape is layered with open space and texture. Made with 100-year-old redwood from a Temecula water tank, a bridge that connects the upstairs balcony with a bedroom creates a horizontal ribbon, while concrete blocks around the entry break up the surface and add vertical lines. A large steel trellis dominates the front facade, providing shade for the balcony and electricity for the home. Frameless solar panels form the top part of the trellis. “The panels are as much of an architectural element as a functional element,” Diasparra said. Inside, the common area has everything that’s needed and nothing that isn’t. The same materials that

veggies Crops native to Mediterranean tend to do well FROM E1

tolerant varieties that put their energy (and water use) into producing edible leaves, roots or fruit — not vine. Vegetables developed for container gardening, such as Patio hybrid tomatoes or bush cucumbers, can thrive on limited water. They also grow well planted in the ground or in raised beds. Many heirloom varieties can succeed with limited irrigation. Their natural drought resistance is what helped make these seeds keepers. Crops native to Mediterranean regions and Africa often succeed in low-water years when others struggle. Remember: We aren’t the first backyard farmers who had to cope with less water. Seed sellers are beginning to catch on to drought tolerance as an asset. An example is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds’ mammoth 354-page The Whole Seed Catalog. Billed as the world’s largest seed catalog and priced at $7.95, this glossy commemorative edition (with a nod to the original Whole Earth Catalog, circa 1968) contains dozens of short articles in addition to thousands of rare seed listings. For folks who just want the seeds, Baker Creek also published its free catalog. Both are available at www. Baker Creek’s range of drought-tolerant possibilities seems to span the globe: Sweet Passion melon, Gold Coast okra, German Foxtail millet, Navajo Winter watermelons, Whippoorwill cowpeas, Blue-Speckled Tepary beans, White Sonora

Tim’s Vermeer

A gracefully curved soaking tub is the centerpiece of the Noorens’ master bathroom.

“I love this house; everything is right here in front of me.” Jill Nooren • La Jolla homeowner

are used on the outside — concrete, stainless steel and wood — can be found inside. Concrete floors with radiant heat set the tone for the space. Heated with a rooftop solar thermal system, the large concrete rectangles, made with 40 percent fly ash (a residue of coal combustion), are contemporary, durable and low-maintenance. So is the stainless-steel staircase. Rift cut white oak, used as paneling for shelves, cupboards, the kitchen island and a large sliding-door pantry underneath the staircase, adds warmth to the room. The living area consists of a low-slung, two-toned black and gray sofa facing a large fireplace, which also helps heat the room. Directly behind the sofa is the kitchen island. The dining table, which is the same width as the island, extends out on one side. “I love this house;

everything is right here in front of me,” Nooren said, looking around the living, dining and kitchen area. Eight years ago, while still living in Iowa, Nooren attended a Surf Diva surf camp at La Jolla Shores. That planted the seed for a life-changing move to San Diego a few years later. To celebrate living in this year-round playground, Nooren wanted as much indoor-outdoor space as possible. Glass panels accordion back, opening an entire wall to the enclosed yard to create one unified living area. A roll-top door opens the side of the garage to the yard to reveal a small black-box theater, one of the items on the wish list for Nooren, who is a musician. And while the house is positioned to catch the ocean breeze for cross ventilation, sleek, high-efficiency, low-energy (Big Ass brand) ceiling fans

wheat, Buffalo gourds and Shelly Black 25 quinoa. Catalog giant Burpee has caught on to low-water needs as a selling point. Its website (www.burpee. com) features more than 140 flowers, herbs, vegeta-

bles and berries that have proved drought resistance. Some examples: Tendergreen mustard, Bluecrop blueberry and Autumn Beauty sunflowers. Based in Grass Valley, Peaceful Valley Farm and



A roll-top door opens to a black-box theater space in the garage of the Noorens’ home. Jim Brady photos were installed in the living area and each of the four bedrooms for added cooling on warm days, eliminating the need for an air conditioning system. Double-glazed windows and shades also help regulate the home’s heat. Other energy-saving features include energy-rated Energy Star appliances and LED lights throughout the home — except for the chandelier above the dining room table. The whimsical light fixture, created by German designer Ingo Maurer, is designed with clips and note cards, so guests can leave a message. “It adds a nice texture to the room,” Keitel said. Dual-flush toilets and low-flow showerheads and faucets save water but don’t skimp on style. In the powder room, just outside the guest suite, a

streamlined cylindrical sink rises from the floor. The shiny silver faucet extends down from the ceiling over the sink. “It’s a conversation piece,” Keitel said. Upstairs, the three bedrooms, each with its own bath, are simple, light and practical. Closets come with locks because the family exchanges homes for vacations. The understated master bathroom is a quiet space. A gracefully curved soaking tub is the centerpiece of the room defined by straight geometric lines of the exposed concrete blocks, a simple wood shelving unit and three windows, which are each a different shape. “We tried to do timeless things that don’t age quickly,” Keitel said. “We tried to use natural, truthful materials.”

Garden Supply has at least 200 drought-resistant suggestions on its website (

Even with rationing, one part of the kitchen garden looks safe: Many herbs — such as rosemary, lav-

ender, oregano, marjoram, sage, thyme, borage and savory — thrive with oncea-week irrigation or less.

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While few homes qualify for a LEED platinum rating, there are easy ways to reduce energy and water consumption. Here are a few: • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED (light-emitting diodes) or CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) light bulbs. • Reduce the amount of air that leaks in and out of the home by caulking and weather stripping windows and doors. • Replace old appliances with Energy Star-rated products. The rating is given by the Environmental Protection Agency. • Set thermostat no higher than 68 degrees for heating and no lower than 78 degrees for cooling. To save even more, install ceiling fans to reduce the amount of time the air conditioner needs to run. A ceiling fan that can run in reverse will help circulate warm air back down in winter. • Wrap water heater in an insulating blanket and heating and cooling ducts with duct wrap. • Add insulation to the attic. • Make sure the water heater is set at 120 degrees. • Replace faucets and showerheads with ones that have a flow of 1.6 gallons per minute or less. Look for the WaterSense label. • Install dual flush toilets. • Use drip irrigation. More ideas can be found at and

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Union Tribune: Modern and Earth Friendly  
Union Tribune: Modern and Earth Friendly