Archive for the ‘Alternative Energy’ Category

EF= Energy Factor.The method a water heaters energy efficiency is compared; measuring the amount of hot water produced per unit of fuel consumed. The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater. Gas water heaters have EF that ranges from .5-.7; Electric models range from .75 to .95.

For this new modern home, Semmes & Co has specified an Accelera 300 ELECTRIC HEAT PUMP WATER HEATER with an EF of 2.5! Heat pumps extract the heat out of the surrounding ambient air.  Check out the Stiebel Eltron Accelera 300 as #1 in efficiency on TopTenUSA website, ranking the nations most efficient equipment.

Of course we are excited to discuss the implementation of this technology, so give us a call with questions!

Accelera 300 cutaway drawing

Heat Pump Technology




Though this custom home is stick-built (as opposed to straw bale or rammed earth) it is still considered a green home because it has been engineered with advanced framing in mind. Simple things like increasing stud spacing, three stud corners, properly sized headers and more are combined to reduce the overall amount of resources used to construct this contemporary craftsman style home.

We recently had our community workshop to perform the straw bale construction portion of this green custom home addition. Many of the owners’ friends and neighbors as well as other interested individuals came together for a day of education and progress.

This home is located in the Las Ventana’s Ranch Development on Tally Farms. See the stem walls, sub-floor and walls go up from this perfect vantage point.


Last week we broke ground on this contemporary farm house designed by San Francisco architect David Gast: This site has it all  including a deer-proof garden, compost area, and a solar heated lap pool.




As framing moves along on this multifamily home nestled into the hills of Paso Robles, you can really start to see how the views will be highlighted in the window openings. We are right on track to have the roof all dried-in before any threat of serious rain.


Well underway with the framing on this strawbale home you can see the roof sheeting in place. Also in this photo, the workshop completed by Semmes & Co. Builders last year, supports the solar electric panels providing the power for construction.

Note that Semmes and Co. will be hosting a strawbale workshop on August 21st for all of you who might be interested in a hands-on learning experience. Contact Jessica Steely at extension 203 for more information.


We have started work on this strawbale home in Santa Ynez. We are teaming up with Paul Poirier who consults with US Green Building Council on a national level. We are excited to collaborate with him and his team on this ultimate sustainable home.

Notice the slab insulation, and the dual drainage pipes for separation of black and graywater for future garden reuse.


Once again the Semmes and Company Solar Division has installed a super affordable solar electric system on one of our custom homes.  These photovoltaic panels are installed on a small pump shed near the residences. Concrete roof tiles are placed around the panels instead of underneath them, further offsetting the systems overall costs.  And, with Semmes and Company guaranteeing the California rebate of nearly 1/3 of the total cost, the financial return on this investment gets sweeter and sweeter.


The Semmes and Company Solar Division has installed Solar Electric Panels on this cozy and efficient home. You will also notice the two solar hot water panels!  With proper planning and design, the addition of these relatively small systems can take care of most of the homes energy needs… getting ever closer to the affordable NET-ZERO energy home.