I love a good beach getaway, and I love a good beach getaway in a home that’s environmentally friendly, which is why we’re stopping at the North Beach Residence, on Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands off the Washington coast.
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While the 2,400-square-foot house is sited on a northwesterly oriented beach, facing the Strait of Georgia, to take advantage of the views, the property is also home to second-growth Douglas firs, a beech grove and a grassy meadow with good solar exposure.
This single-story somewhat narrow home is set among mature fir trees, has walls of glass along both sides, one open to the beach and the other to an upland meadow. Steel columns minimize the visible structure from the interior, with metal-clad walls on the exterior. Flood-plain and archeological conditions necessitated a design approach that elevated the living areas while letting the building rest lightly on the land.
In addition, the roof is vegetated, filtering rainwater that is then collected and stored in tanks near the garage for irrigation. Potable hot water and hydronic heating are aided by solar collectors on the roof while photovoltaic panels above the vegetable garden provide supplemental electricity. And, while the home is intended to be used from May through October, these water and energy collecting systems completely zero out electricity use for the entire year.
But it’s also pretty and open and sleek and modern and white, with the primary bedroom at one end of the home and two other bedrooms at the opposite end. In between is the great room with a cozy living area anchored by a fireplace and bookshelves, a dining space, and an open kitchen, with an enormous pantry just behind it.
It's a nice space to get away from it all and relax in the beauty of the woods, the meadow and the beach while knowing that you are being especially green.