News Archive

Renovating and Greening Three Adjacent Houses in Montecito

Thompson Naylor Architects and Allen Associates general contractors are collaborating on renovating and greening three adjacent houses in Montecito.  The owners have removed backyard fences from the properties and want to create private and common open spaces for children and adults.  The landscape will be designed to provide food for the residents and local fauna and to recharge the water table with stormwater runoff.  The buildings will be remodeled to serve the young families’ needs, be comfortable, have good indoor air quality, and generate more energy than they consume.



Gibraltar Road Timber-frame Residence

A rustic, timber-frame residence on Gibraltar Road was destroyed by the Tea Fire and could not be rebuilt under current codes. The home was recently reconstructed based on a design by John D. Kelley, Architect. The unique character of the previous structure has been replicated, with upgraded interior planning, using current building techniques. The new design incorporates green building features including high-performance windows, energy-efficient heating and water heating, and a grid-tied solar electric system. Despite having a very high glazing to floor area ratio to take advantage of panoramic ocean views, the home will exceed state energy-efficiency requirements by 21%.




UCSB’s Sierra Madre Student Housing

Van Sande & Associates Structural Engineers and Arcadia Studio Landscape Architects are both key members of the extensive design team for UCSB’s Sierra Madre Student Housing, on Storke Rd. The project, which is being designed to LEED gold standards, will house over 600 students and faculty.

14_UCSB Sierra MadreWeb


East Mountain Drive Project

CommonGround completed a hillside garden on East Mountain Drive in Montecito for a famous comedian.  A new motorcourt was conceived with permeable pavers, local cut sandstone curbing and an extensive succulent garden with 40-50 different locally-sourced species.  Stone fountains created by a local sculptor were installed as well.  The hillside above the house was made fire-safe and planted extensively with natives, including a large native wildflower meadow.  Branches found on-site were repurposed as handrails for the switchback trail leading to a lodgepole arbor on a view terrace at the top of the site.


Victoria Garden Mews (VGM)

Victoria Garden Mews (VGM) is a model of sustainable living in the 21st Century.  The LEED for Homes Platinum Certified 4-unit condominium in downtown Santa Barbara was designed and built by a team of Green Building Alliance members: Thompson Naylor Architects, Allen Associates (construction, developer), Mike Gones (engineering, past member), and Grace Design Associates (landscape design and construction). The project was designed to allow “aging in place,” walking/bike access to local amenities and seamless integration with the surrounding neighborhood. Reconstruction of the site’s original Victorian house was completed in August 2009. The new, three unit condominium building at the rear of the property was completed in March 2011.  During the first year of occupancy, the passive solar building has maintained comfortable interior temperatures – losing only 1.5o on the coldest night of the year.


Sustainable systems and features include:

  • High efficiency building shell: Icynene insulation, high performance windows, rigid-foam-insulation-wrapped exterior, plaster finish
  • >90% of electrical power (12 kW) generated onsite
  • Solar hot water for domestic use and space heating
  • Hydraulic lift parking system frees up space for outdoor living
  •  Significant use of reclaimed materials
  • Numerous garden areas provide a common social space, intimate seating areas, 30 fruit trees, veggie garden, bee boxes and habitat for local fauna
  • 14,000 gallon rainwater harvesting system
  • Groundwater infiltrators
  • Use of pre-market products/systems: subsurface irrigation, soil nutrient injection and aeration, low water use turf

VGM is one of 155 pilot projects selected internationally as a test case for the Sustainable Sites Initiative.  This project was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal.

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