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This Net-Zero Residence Might Be the Greenest Home in San Francisco

By Dwell @dwell
Exterior of a San Francisco net-zero cottage above a workshop

The compact 712-square-foot cottage sits on top of a 430-square-foot workshop, where Baker’s firm prototypes and produces custom furnishings for his practice. “Not only is there room for more density on most residential blocks in San Francisco, but, if thoughtfully conceived, it also enriches our communities and makes our cities more resilient,” Baker says. 

Photo by Matthew Millman.

Eco-minded architect David Baker lives, works, and constantly experiments at Shotwell Design Lab, a compound he owns in San Francisco’s Mission District. When he realized he could build a second residential unit in the rear of the property, Baker saw an opportunity to design a demonstration project that tested the latest innovations in sustainablity. The 712-square-foot Zero Cottage became the first net-zero, LEED Platinum, GreenPoint Rated, Passive House-certified residence in San Francisco after its completion in 2013. Passionate about hands-on exploration, Baker designed many of the building elements and furniture himself. Tiny details abound, illustrating the level of attention required for building net-zero in a city. “The beauty of Zero Cottage is that it doesn’t rely on a lot of advanced technology,” Baker says. “On a basic level, these things are within a lot of people’s reach today.”


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