Arcadia EcoHome

Today's Demostrations, Tomorrow's Applications


                                                                                    4th Earth Day Event


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  •  Build a home for California Institute of Environmental Design & Management (CIEDM) to house its functions.
  • Develop an innovative & demonstrative green building, and raise the bar for sustainable design and construction.
  • Showcase market-based sustainable features & products incorporated in the property to general public and building professionals and consumers.
  • Present/promote sustainable living practices into the mainstream lifestyles.
Project Data

Uses & Functions:        Residence & business for advocacy, education, exhibition & research

Building Type:               Single Family House, Type V wood frame, 2 floors

Architectural Style:       Spanish Mediterranean

Site/Floor Area:             Lot size-20000sf, living space-5000sf, garage-600sf, greenhouse-220sf

Completion Date:         Certified of Occupancy issued on 1/4/05; on-going incremental improvements.



Project Sponsors/Participants

Owner/Architect/Builder:   Caroline & Ed Huang, CIEDM Principals

Builder Partner, US EPA Energy Star Homes

Partner, Earth Day Network

Member of Eco-Home Network, Build It Green, Build It Green & BIGS Public Agency Council, Environmental Assessment Association & EAAS Advisory Council, Focus the Nation Organization Committee, Sustainability Now, Alliance of Sustainability, American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy, LAUSD Hight Performance Schools Working Group, Pasadena Global Warming Group, LEED Neighborhood Development Corresponding Committee, & Travel Green Wisconsin.

 Government Programs:

  • Environmental Protection Administration/Dept. of Energy’s Energy Star Home Program
  • California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Emerging Renewables Program for solar electricity system
  • CEC’s Solar Energy Program for solar water heating system
  • Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District’s High Efficiency Clothes Washer Rebate Program for Energy Star rated cloth washer
 Utilities Programs:
  • Southern California Gas Company’s Home Energy Efficiency Rebate Program for cloth washer
  • Southern California Edison’s Summer Discount Plan for A/C operation

Corporate/Individual Participants & Contributors:

  • Owens Corning: All materials & labors for enhanced insulation & interior acoustic applications.
  • EPMAR: Materials & labors for environmental friendly polymer stain concrete, interior & exterior
  • CASTEC: Natural woven & PVC-free vinyl window shades
  • Invisible Structures: GravelPave permeable ground paving
  • Lennox Hearth Products: Elite heater-rated direct vent fireplace & accessories
  • Award Metals: Attic & ridge vents for concrete tile roof
  • GAF/LL Building Products: Master Flow whole house fan, power vent, foundation, gable & roof vents, Energy Star rated white shingle roof tile & waterproof underlayment
  • ODL: Operable, fixed & tubular skylights
  • Hayden Industries: SuperSystem central vacuum & accessories
  • Controlled Engineer: AquaStar tankless water heater  
  • International Window/JCH Enterprises: Vinyl frame, double glazed low-E windows & patio doors
  • LifeSource Water Systems: Whole house water filtering system
  • MonierLifetile: Energy Star rated concrete S-tile & permeable fabric for S-tile ridge vents
  • Shell (Siemens) Solar/Perfect El. Co.: EarthSafe 2kw solar electricity systems
  • SunEarth: CopperHeart  integral collector-storage solar water heater  
  • Superior Radiant Insulation/Barr Lumber: Polar-Ply radiant barrier sheathing boards
  • T&L Air Conditioning: HVAC (Carrier)  & venting system installation 
  • Continental Industries: Leaded triple glass window
  • UniCon Development & Waysun Construction: Construction advices
  • John Sheng Associates & Sanyao Int’l: Architectural design advices
  • Tritech Associates: Surveying services
  • Nevis Homes & UniCon Development: Used building materials, trees & shrubs @ few job sites
  • CTW Trading Group: Decorative tiles
Showcasing Programs

The house has been built with a variety of conventional & innovative energy/water efficiency and other sustainable applications.  They are rich enough to attract draw attentions from the public, building & real estate communities, as well as to receive recognitions and awards for the project.  With a demonstration project in mind from the beginning, we’ve taken steps to promote green features and products of the project:


Publicity & Outreach

  • Arcadia EcoHome is selected by Build It Green to participate in its GreenPoint Rated Program for the pilot Existing Home category.
  • We’ve and will continue holding open houses, lectures & site tours for groups and invited individuals in building & real estate industries and from the general public, including international visitors.
  • We are able to get special coverage on several local newspapers, radio & TV programs, and we’ll continue to contact media such as LA Times for additional coverage.
  • We have been very active in engaging promotional speeches in public & private meetings, professional seminars and conferences.


On-going      Provides site tours with project & product briefings to numerous invited & unsolicited visitors, Including building professionals, business associates, neighbors & friends.


Detailed activities see Recent News

Green Features
  •  Renewable Solar Energy
  • Passive Solar Heating / Cooling
  • Thermal Massing
  • Natural Ventilation
  • Attic / Roof / Ceiling Ventilation
  • Thermal Convection
  • Efficient HVAC System, Minimum Duct Leakage 
  • Tight Building Envelop & Insulation
  • Natural Lighting
  • Energy-Efficient Appliances & Equipments
  • Urban Heat Island Reduction
  • Environmental Friendly Materials
  • Resources Conservation: material, water, etc
  • Stormwater Management
  • Organic Gardening
  • Intensive Vegetation: 130+ trees, 300+ shrubs / vines, 50+ pot plants
  • Wildscaping & Wildlife Habitats
  • Eco-Lifestyle / Business Operation 
Site Plan

Solar & Wind Access at S-N Cross Section






Arcadia EcoHome is designed and constructed with systematic and comprehensive applications for sustainability.  Striving for a showcase and award-wining green building, it incorporates various conventional and advanced green building systems and products.  It also possesses several unique innovations with general applicability.  The following is a brief description of partial applications planned or installed and products chosen for the showcase building.

Renewable Energy

  • Solar lights at rear yards
  • A 2kw Siemens Earthsafe photovoltaics system on south-facing upper roof, installed by Perfect El. Co., generates electricity by solar energy. 
  • An 80 gallon SunEarth’s CopperHeart solar water heater system on south-facing upper roof.
  • A rooftop sprinkler system washes solar panels to maximize production of green power & hot water and cools off south facing upper & lower roof roof.
  • Pre-wiring for an electricity charging station in garage for future electrical cars.

 Passive Solar Heating/Cooling

  • The active areas of the house – living room, dinning room and kitchen are placed along the sun-lit south wing with large windows to take advantage of direct solar heat gain.  Less active area such as garage, utility and guest rooms are on the north side of the house. 
  •  Projection of eave overhangs and height of window sills at south façade are calculated to admit winter-angled sun and to block the summer sun’s ray.
  • Shading panels, patios, porches & balconies at west & east facades block direct sunlight from entering the house.
  • A built-in glazed thermosyphon air panel (TAP) at south wall acts as a solar heater in winter and a solar fan to force indoor air movement in summer.
  • A solar/graywater greenhouse with thermoplastic glazing at the warmest southwest corner of the building serves as a heating source for the house.
  •  An open floor plan that allows deep penetration & distribution of passive solar gains, and the open of ground and upper levels at main activity areas avoids the overheating. 
  • Intensive landscaping around the house for natural cooling, and strategically located deciduous & evergreen trees/vines to enhancing natural cooling/heating. 


Thermal Massing

  • 5” thick concrete floor slab & 5/8” gyp. board throughout.

  • Darkened concrete floor by EPMAR’s environmental stain in kitchen & family room as direct heat sink.

  • Thick & dark Western Quarry Tile’s floor tiles over concrete slab enhance thermal mass capacity that absorbs & stores heat during daytime and releases heat during nighttime.

  • Granite kitchen counter is placed along south-facing windows to expand thermal mass.

  • 24” roof overhangs to shade all the floor mass from direct summer sun thus maximize the capacity to absorb heat from other sources in the interior.
  • Night ventilation through strategically located ODL’s skylights & high windows to cool off the mass.
  • Thicker & deeper concrete footing at building parameter walls to enhance thermal mass of the encircled dirt.  In the greenhouse, the shaded concrete slab and 20” deep x 1” thick rigid insulation along parameters of foundation further increase the mass capacity of the soil.  A GAF wall mounted auto & power vents and 3 ODL’s operable skylights cool off the thermal mass through night venting.


 Natural Ventilation

  •  A U-shaped floor plan that acts like a wind scoop to capture the northwest prevailing breeze.
  • An open garage to serves as a breezeway in summer.
  • With an open central courtyard, the building is basically of only 1-room deep without interior walls to block natural ventilation.
  • Stagger west façade to produce shading and create wind walls for catching the breeze.
  • Operable windows in all rooms to accommodate fresh air ventilation.
  • Strategically located windows & doors, including interior ones, to facilitate cross-ventilation through the building.


Attic/Roof/Ceiling Ventilation

  • Strategically located revisable & energy star rated ceiling fans to circulate cool air in summers & blow down warm air in winters. 
  • A centrally located GAF’s whole house fan above the 2-story family room to cool off the living space & attics in early evenings.
  • Plenty vent blocks at eaves and strategically located Award Metals’ innovative Stealth ridge vents & low profile roof vents & MonierLifetile’s FigaRoll cloth rigid vents that the fabric opens vent venting in clear whether & close off to prevent water penetration in wet whether.
  • Owens Corning Raft-R-Mate to secure 1” airspace for ventilation under roof sheathing in Cathedral ceilings.
  • GAF’s Master Flow wind powered turbines by roof ridges over AC furnaces in attics to take advantage of both natural & thermal airflow.  GAF’s uderlayment is applied around the turbines to protect the roof from leaking.
  • Energy Star labeled MonierLifetile’s concrete S-tiles (vs. flat) on roof to enhance ambient air circulation below as well as above the tile.
  • Energy Star labeled GAF’s Jumbo Sovereign white shingles cover the roof area below raised solar water heaters & PV modules to enhance heat reflectance.


Thermal Convection

  • Strategically placed low windows to induce cool entering breeze.
  • Three strategically located operable ODL skylights to facilitate stacking effect.
  • Strategically located ventilation tower by Central Court facilitates stacking effect with a pulley operated attic opening and GAF’s Master Flow foundation vents to release heat in summer.
  • Two strategically locate thermosiphone air panels (TAP) on south walls of kitchen and tower by auto court that using solar energy to activate convection so as to cool interior and attics respectively.


Efficient HVAC Systems

  • T&L Air Conditioning properly sized & installed two zoned Carrier AC units with 11+ SEER condenser, gas forced air furnaces, pilotless digital ignitions, variable speed blower& automatic setback programmable thermostats for the furnaces to turn down heat at night.
  • Tightly seal duct leaks with UL approved mastic tapes to reduce energy waste while diminishing drafts and dust.  The leakage rate was tested as no greater than 6%.
  • ETI Heat System’s floor warming system under floor tiles at the north-facing Master Bathroom as a localized supplemental heating source.


Tight Building Envelop & Insulation  

  •   International Window’s Energy Star windows & patio doors, with low-E double glazing & vinyl frame.
  • Sliding-glass doors instead of swing doors enhance tight envelop.
  • Minimize the number of electricity boxes at exterior walls to enhance tight envelop. 
  • Owens Corning well-packed fiberglass insulation at roofs, underfloors and exterior walls, including 8 ¼” R-30C at cathedral ceiling, installed by Paragon Schmid.
  • Superior Radiant Insulation’s Polar-Ply foil-faced sheathing in cooperation with Barr Lumber Company’s supply of OSB to reduce heat gain at roof deck & lower south walls.
  • Heavy duty household aluminum foil sheets at west walls to reduce heat gain.


Natural Lighting

  • Maximum use of daylight: all rooms except storage receive daylight through windows facing outside or central atrium, ODL’s regular & tubular skylights.  The tube light with it high-tech reflective tubular surfaces captures direct & ambient & provides illumination even in early morning & late afternoon when the sun is low in the sky.
  • Open layout at many interior spaces to maximize effects of natural lighting & ventilation.
  • A strategically located interior window to allow natural light reaching a walled room.
  • Light colors are used on finish works to increase reflective light at certain darker spaces: light bamboo floor in study room, light maple color at kitchen & bathroom cabinets to balance the dark floor color.
  • Mirror doors are placed next to windows to increase reflective light at study room, loft & south wing bedroom. 


Energy-Efficient Appliances & Equipments

  •  A Controlled Energy Corporation’s Aqua Star tankless gas water heater to save energy consumption.  Without keeping a tank of hot water inside the house that is subject to standby heat losses, the system eliminates a double energy loss when air conditioning is on in the summer.
  • The solar & tankless water heaters are linked in such a way that the solar unit preheat s the water running through the tankless unit to save gas consumption.
  •   Lennox’s direct-vent gas fireplace, an AFUE rated heater, at north end of Great Room, using exhaust to preheat fresh intake instead of a conventional chimney to save building materials.  
  •   Hayden’s central vacuum system is energy efficient and has a washable/reusable filter.
  • Energy Star rated refrigerator, dishwasher, clothe washer, ceiling fans, monitor, receiver, etc.


Heat Island & Carbon Footprint Reduction

  • Most of the front and back yards will be covered with vegetation and/or permeable paving. 
  • The 30’x25’ concrete paved garage backup area is placed under the mature oak and is shaded by the house on 3 sides and by the tree.
  • Light vs. dark mission red colors for concrete roof tile with white exterior walls to increase building’s solar reflectance.
  • Energy Star labeled GAF’s Jombo Sovereign white shingle roof with GAF underlayment is placed under solar water heaters & PV arrays to enhance heat reflectance from the roof to solar systems. 

Resources Conservation

  • Gable (vs. hip) roofs reduce the use of building materials & allow installation of gable vents.
  • With the design of short roof spans, rafters are spaced at a wider interval (2x10 rafters @24”o.c. vs. 2x8 @16”o.c.), so fewer pieces of lumber are need.
  • Truss Joists for floor/ceiling structure: the I-shaped engineered lumbers will not twist, swell & shrink, eliminate squeaky floors, reduce wall/ceiling cracks and thus repairs.  Their wide flanges offer more support to floor and less vibration & noise, thus reduce the use of sound insulation material in floor.  The light-weight joists also use considerably less wood – at lease 50% less wood fiber than regular lumber.  The manufacturing process also minimizes defects like knots that can adversely affect structural performance that is critical in earthquake country as California.
  • OSB (oriented strand board) made of wood chips for roof & wall sheathing throughout.
  •  MDF (medium density board) made of wood waste for window sills, shelves, etc.
  • Low temperature fired, high thermal mass, & locally produced porous tiles (vs. ceramic/porcelain tiles) by Western Quarry Tile pave interior & exterior floors
  • Lumbers, doors, railing metals, bricks, pavers, and trees/shrubs were salvaged/harvested from the demolished house on the site and from other nearby job sites slated for demolition.
  • Construction practices to reduce building waste and disposed trash.  Sawdust and cut-off lumbers are saved & used so as to reduce trashes going to public dump yards. The Central Courtyard was designated as dump yard where waste materials are piled, processed & salvaged.  Saw dust was separated from debris and mixed with dirt in backyard for planting.  Masonry wastes were filled in earth trenches, block walls & planter covers.
  • Extensive uses of existing furniture.


Use of Environmental Friendly Materials

  • Low VOC adhesives throughout.
  • EPMAR’s environmental friendly polymer stain concrete, interior & exterior
  • Bamboo vs. hardwood floors. Bamboo matures in 3-5 years, bamboo floor is 25% harder than oak  & does not expand or contract as much as solid hardwood.
  • Carpet with face fiber recycled from PET bottles & backing made of recycled urethane are used.
  • CASTEC’s window shades made of natural woven & PVC-free vinyl.
  • Organic World USA’s organic fertilizer in orchard garden.


Water Conservation

  •   Water saving fixtures including shower heads & Kohler’s 1-piece toilets employing 1.6 gpf Ingenium flushing system that produces a gravity-fed, plug-resistant siphon jet action with swirling motion of the water rinses the bowl clean.

  • No lawns.  Drought tolerate plants & groundcovers in front yard & city parkway.

  • Grouping plants per needs for watering.

  • Drip irrigation systems for entire yard.

  •  Rainwater collection systems include recycled plastic barrels, Gutter Masters’ gutters & downspouts.

  • Graywater systems include washwater irrigation.

  •    Imaginative ‘water flow’ art work instead of real fountain in real yard.


Urban Water Runoff

  • Permeable ground paving includes Invisible Structure’s GravelPave at front yard parking
  • Cut-out areas at concrete driveways
  • Shallow retaining basins in front yard at end of drainage flow line from side yards.
  •  Low walls at front property line to slowdown water runoff.


  • A wide range of plant species and sheet composting to allow the grow & sustain of an eco-system.
  • No chemical fertilizers are used through out.  Sheet composting using falling leaves & green waste to cultivate the micro eco-system.