Beyond sustainable, in an ideal world, every house would be environmentally regenerative, seamlessly integrating into its ecosystem, highly efficient, producing more energy than it consumed, restoring habitat, saving and repurposing water, reducing and reusing waste, reclaiming materials, eliminating its own and its occupants’ total carbon footprint (including transportation). Tah.Mah.Lah. represents an exciting summary of what building green can amount to. Special care has been taken across every dimension of green building: energy, materials, water, and habitat. Every aspect of the creation of this house is intended to have a minimal environmental impact and hopes to have a restorative effect, while still providing an environment appropriate for the family and the broader community, organizations and functions they support.

In April 2006, they began the design process for the project by writing a set of themes that would define the house. They shared these themes, each of which is of equal importance, with their team to be used as guiding principles relevant to every idea, every design, and every decision. Every designer, consultant, contractor, subcontractor and service provider who joined the team stayed true to these intents. It is the team members who have given these themes form, function and figure. Read More


Minimize ecological footprint
  • Passive survivability (cistern, organic garden, off-grid capability/flexibility).
  • Using LEED Platinum, Living Building Challenge as guides, goal = innovation beyond LEED.


  • Net zero-energy/zero-carbon emission home including the family’s transportation.
  • Fossil-fuel free/oil independent house, grounds and transportation.
  • Transportation (present/future) integrated into design—net-zero with enough solar for 5 electric vehicles. Conversion to electric fleet is in process.
  • Super-efficient enclosure, including windows.
  • Natural light primary/sole source of light during daylight hours. Connected load highly efficient, <1w per sf with all lights on at full power. All LED or CFL lighting fixtures, zero incandescent fixtures.
  • Ground source heat exchange as sole source of domestic (radiant hydronic) heat and pool heat.
  • Passive ventilation—no air-conditioning needed, but radiant cooling included as future-proofing and can be enabled for demonstration purposes.
  • Dedicated fresh outdoor air ventilation, 24/7.
  • On demand hot water loop.
  • Wireless control system to manage home energy, provide performance dashboard.



  • Replace conventional products/materials with environmentally preferable alternatives.
  • Durability—100 years or more. Earthquake safety comparable to schools and hospitals.
  • 100% FSC or reclaimed wood for entire project – interior (achieved 100%) and exterior (achieved 97% due to a minimal amount of engineered lumber not available FSC).
  • 100% reclaimed or salvaged stone for interiors and landscape. No newly quarried stone except kitchen counters where matching layout in reclaimed impossible.
  • Recycled metals for door and window hardware, railings, roof.
  • Zero painted surfaces.
  • No PVC onsite (except for certain small parts where alternatives not available).
  • Existing home deconstructed, materials reused and recycled.



  • Super-efficient plumbing fixtures.
  • All gray and black water treated and reused for irrigation; potable/city water for domestic use only.
  • High efficiency irrigation system using harvested rainwater (50,000 gallon cistern) and treated black/grey wastewater.



  • Enhance and restore native plant communities onsite to support native wildlife.
  • Long-term biological monitoring by team of field biologists.
  • Highly efficient pool. Uses ozonation technology, reducing need for chlorine by 50 to 75%.
  • Natural bogs for wildlife (bio-filtered, no chemicals).

Learn more about this project and see more videos and photos at

Photo Credit: Blake Marvin