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Countryside Passive House

This all-electric certified Passive House sits on a 10-acre parcel in Cachagua, a rural area of Carmel Valley, California. The 2,277-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath residence was built next to an observatory, the initial draw for the owners who are avid star gazers. The hues of the home’s interior are intentionally neutral, focusing attention on the dramatic natural surroundings. The great room and adjacent bedroom feature pitched ceilings accented with dark wood beam trestles, lending a sense of expansiveness and elegance. Built-in cabinetry and shelving take maximum advantage of the space.

Given that it is located in a Wildland—Urban Interface zone, Trex® deck and railing materials, a metal roof and special finishes were added to the exterior to decrease flammability. This helped protect the home during a 2020 wildfire. A state-of-the-art heat recovery ventilation system (HRV) is designed to prevent infiltration of smoke to the interior.

Thanks to the highly efficient HRV, and the application of advanced insulation and air sealing techniques, the energy demand for space conditioning is about 90 percent less than a traditionally built structure. The remainder of the home’s energy needs are provided by a solar array. Windows were strategically placed to capitalize on the mountain and valley views as well as naturally control heat gain from the sun.

The observatory, once the sole building on the property, now includes a two car garage and a cozy room for relaxing until the stars make their appearance. While the home was under construction and interior walls still uncovered, it was used to demonstrate Passive House techniques and technologies and related benefits. Click here for a virtual tour.

Countryside Passive House
Building Design:
Carmel Building & Design and Brian Rubin, Architect
Rick Pharaoh

Rob Nicely

President & Partner

Rob studied art at the University of California, Davis and has been in the construction industry since 1980. His rare combination of technical expertise and artistic sensibility enables him to provide a unique and exceptional experience for clients. As president, Rob leads by example. He is dedicated to the highest standards of quality and customer service, and to using the latest techniques and technologies to create environmentally mindful homes.
Rob is a Certified Green Building Professional (Build It Green) and Certified Passive House Consultant (Passive House Institute). He has served on the Passive House California board of directors since January 2018. Over the years Rob has garnered several accreditations. He participates in a variety of advocacy efforts, all focused on improving the quality of homes that Carmel Building & Design produces and increasing the ecological sustainability of the building industry in general. In his leisure time, Rob enjoys sculpting and painting.