Local home takes sustainable living to the next level
January 16, 2006
The home of Jonathan and O’Malley Stoumen encompasses sustainable design and architecture unlike any other in the Truckee-Tahoe area. Jon Stoumen, a part-time Truckee resident, designed and is building the 3,000-square-foot home on the west shore of Donner Lake that is at once comfortably modern and unabashedly eco-friendly. Stoumen’s home takes green building to the next level by merging highly efficient materials and design.The Summit Creek home, which it was aptly named for its location on the creek’s bank, uses solar systems to create hot water and electricity, hydronic radiant floor heating with a 90 percent efficient natural gas boiler, and a variety of recycled woods and other materials to meet Stoumen’s goal of building an efficient, low-impact home in an intense climate.”My wife and I desire to have a positive impact on the planet,” Jon Stoumen said. “You can create the same comfort and convenience with low operational costs and almost no maintenance.”The Stoumens began their project in 2000, with the rehabilitation of Summit Creek itself by planting native vegetation and adding a stone lining to the eroding creekbed. And with no need or desire to rush the property’s development, the couple has spent the past five years building their Donner home piece by piece.
“[Stoumen] has built a very comprehensive green building; it is one of the greenest I have ever seen,” said Scott Terrell, director of planning for the Truckee Donner Public Utility District. “If you are going to own and operate a building, whether it’s commercial or a home, you cannot ignore this stuff, you almost have to do it because there is no way you can argue against the benefits.”Most of these features are going to pay for themselves in utility and water savings.” Building blocks The home was designed as a south-west facing semi-circle to allow for maximum sun exposure and ease of construction. The exterior is a lime stucco that, over time, will absorb enough carbon dioxide to harden back into its original limestone state. And the home’s highly durable roof is composed of recycled automobile windshield gaskets that allows for easy shaping.Two technologies used in the construction are cellulose insulation and the home’s Durisol building blocks.
Cellulose, an insulation made of specially treated, densely packed recycled newsprint and fabric, is resistant to mold, insects, rodents and fire, and it’s completely sound-proof. The Durisol blocks, of which the home’s structure is built, are made of recycled wood, cement and rock wool insulation and create their own insulated thermal mass.”The interior is going to be plaster, which is not common here, but more common in England and Scotland,” said Brodie Faulkner, assistant builder on the project. “Its not harmful to the environment, and you add the color to the mix so you never have to paint or touch up scratches.” The man with the plan Jon Stoumen, who’s resume reads like a short novel, has designed and built every manner of property, from wine-making facilities, ranches and Mediterranean-style villas, to medical centers, schools, and movie theaters, and has contributed to and been featured in more than a dozen design and architectural publications.
His taste for the environment is innate, having lived with his wife for 13 years on a remote ranch in Humboldt County where the couple made all of their own electricity with a windmill and grew their own food. “It was that totally organic lifestyle that was translated into our work,” Jon Stoumen said. “When you start thinking in a Robinson Crusoe kind of way, you come up with all sorts of ideas.” When the Summit Creek home is finished, it will use almost no power, according to Jon Stoumen, and can be entirely lit with about 700 watts.”We tried not to make it in your face,” he said. “We tried to integrate all the concepts into a beautiful, warm home for our family.”To learn more about the Stoumens’ Summit Creek home, contact Jon Stoumen at http://www.stoumen.com.