3_Palms_2_South net zero home

Brian Cranston is more known as a high school chemistry teacher Walter White gone bad spending his days on the meth cookout in a remote desert but in reality, he’s truly “breaking good” big time. Brian and Robin have just finished an ambitious, net-zero residential home in Ventura, CA that is worthy of an Oscar from the sustainable building community (USGBC’scar?).

When the Cranstons bought the original beachfront property, it was merely a 1940s-era leaky bungalow, which was subsequently deconstructed. Going for both LEED Platinum and recognition from the Passive House Alliance, the new home is a relatively modest 2,450 square feet, 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom (for a Hollywood actor). In their mission to preserve the three mature Mexican Fan Palms that were on the property for a long time, they dubbed the project – the “3Palms” house.

My wife, Robin, and I want to combine both form and function, and show the world that sustainable living doesn’t mean that there’s no indoor plumbing or that it will impinge on a modern lifestyle. We have qualified for the highest level of “green” building in the country, and will strive to achieve the highest level of style and comfort too. We know we will have succeeded if our guests ask incredulously, ‘This is a green home’?



So Cranstons assembled their Dream Green Team (imagine not worrying about a budget and picking best pros and partners available) and went with their ambitious project to build a passive design, tightly sealed, super-insulated, and modern home that has any green building enthusiast licking his or her chaps.

The green points stack up to:

  • SIPs wall systems;
  • recycled/renewable materials and FSC-certified lumber throughout;
  • high-performance doors and windows
  • heat/energy recovery ventilator;
  • radiant heating;
  • rainwater collection and recycling;
  • rooftop photovoltaic solar panels;
  • solar water heating;
  • low-VOC paints and finishes;
  • Energy Star appliances;
  • LED lighting.




3_Palms_Master_Bedroom (1)

3_Palms_Master_Bedroom (2)



In the end, reality is that even green building requires a sacrificial lamb to the green building goddess – Greenera. Brian admits that unfortunately, one palm had to be sacrificed to allow necessary support caissons, but promised to find a location for another palm to prevent them from renaming their pride project to “2Palms”. That palm will be a transplant from another location.

Personally, I couldn’t be happier when Hollywood Stars take on sustainability challenges and become a model for responsible building, especially net-zero homes. Best inspirations do not come from loud talking politicians but from other homeowners, especially famous yet humble ones, like the Cranstons. The project is super well documented with drawings, construction milestones, photos and videos on the 3Palms website. (Images from 3Palmsproject.com)

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