San Jose is one of the most densely populated areas in Northern California. Home to some of Silicon Valley’s finest minds, there are a variety of neighborhoods that offer a variety of aesthetics suited to the taste of any homeowner. From the quaint wholesome neighborhood of Willow Glen to the polished Tudor Homes of Rose Park, a common trend in these residential areas is sustainable living.
A lot of architects in the area offer sustainable alternatives to common building practices. There are a handful of architects in San Jose that design eco-friendly residential projects, from small single-family homes to multifamily developments. This article lists some of the best green architects that service San Jose’s growing demand for environmentally conscious living. Most of these architectural firms are either Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified or Build It Green members. This article highlights their most notable green project, which can help determine which firm is the best fit for you.
644 N Santa Cruz Ave. Suite #6, Los Gatos, CA 95030
Certified LEED Architect Davide Giannella established Acadia Architecture to provide high-end residential architectural design with sustainability as its core value. The firm understands that a home’s natural relationship with its site is just as important as its aesthetics. With this in mind, Acadia Architecture applies sustainable design to make a home environmentally intelligent.
Take, for example, this San Jose Corner House. Since it’s a corner lot, the home has a healthy exposure to the sun. The angled roof regulates its exposure to the sun, its architecture was designed to control traffic noise, and budget-friendly durable materials created a unique textural finish.
Mark Stoklosa Architect
351 S Baywood Ave. Suite B, San Jose, CA 95128
Buildings have always fascinated Marek Stoklosa. He recalls sketching buildings at the tender age of three as the city served as his inspiration. Pursuing architecture was inevitable and he eventually established his own firm in 1982. When Stoklosa was younger, he had an avid interest in a variety of facades, but now his firm leans towards making more sustainable and adaptive reuse projects.
One of its first sustainable projects is the Eco-House in Walnut Creek. East Bay Times reported it as “the first two-story recycled steel frame and straw bale home in Contra Costa County.” Instead of using wood, the home is made of recycled steel frames and rice straw bale insulation. The Eco-House is a pioneer in sustainable housing and has set trends for the Green Building Program.
Noel Cross + Architects
148 E Virginia St. Suite #2, San Jose, CA 95112
Noel Cross + Architects is a sustainable firm that always takes into consideration the long term effect of its projects. The firm goes beyond conservation and aims for actually regenerating natural resources. It practices the “eco-effective” method that acclaimed environmental architect William McDonough advocates. This eco-effective solution entails projects that can clean the air, make energy reusable, and, above all else, be made with reclaimed materials.
A prime example of the firm’s “eco-effective” homes is the Villa Terra located in San Jose. The home has Pneumatically Impacted Stabilized Earth (PISE) walls that help lessen the use of trees for framing lumber. This alternative material outlasts any wood frame building which makes it durable as well. The home’s architecture was strategically designed to reduce electrical lighting by installing various skylights. Its landscape was also designed to heat the home during the winter and protect it from the heat in the summer.
710 E McGlincy Ln. Suite #109, Campbell, CA 95008
Established in 2010, GKW Architects is a wide-scale architectural firm that services commercial clients and residential projects ranging from single-family homes to apartments. Its founder, Gordon Wong, is a LEED-certified architect who has worked on international projects found in Shanghai and Chongqing. Like its founder, GKW Architects is also LEED-certified and a Build it Green member.
Primarily serving the Bay Area, a lot of its unique residential projects are found in San Jose. One of these is the JC Tower in Japan Town, San Jose. The mixed-use building has clear Japanese influences, including its curved tiled roofs designed to stand out on its urban site. Its landscaping was also designed to replicate zen gardens and it features Japanese-inspired sculptures as well.
OJK Architecture and Planning
97 E St. James St. Suite #42, San Jose, CA 95112
San Jose-based OJK Architecture and Planning has been designing apartments, community housing, and commercial buildings since 1982. The firm aims to design establishments that are “a delicate blend of art and science.” Its creative design philosophy has earned the firm numerous awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Some of these distinctions include a Special Award on Sustainability for the Salinas Apartments and another Award of Excellence for Sustainable Development for the Gish Apartments in San Jose.
The Gish Apartments is a Gold LEED-certified project that aims to provide accessible transportation to its residents. A large percentage of its residents are disabled persons who benefit from the apartment’s strategic location. Moreover, the Gish Apartments is an affordable housing project that caters to families below the median income area.
M. Designs Architects
4131 El Camino Real Suite #200, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Palo Alto-based M. Designs Architects is an internationally renowned architectural firm that offers specialized sustainable residential design. One of its award-winning founders, Malika Junaid is a big name in the local and national architecture industry. Her projects on sustainability have been trendsetters via the unique aesthetics only her firm can offer.
Junaid’s Star Trek-inspired sustainable home grabbed the headlines of the San Francisco Chronicle. The home was designed to merge with its environment and a grand double-pane glass completed with an awning-style lift achieved this vision. It also has a solar-powered airport hangar door that showcases the picturesque view of Los Altos Hills. This home is the firm’s most notable project, having won the First Award for Residential-Private House at the 2019 World Architecture and Design Awards.
Studio S Squared
1000 S Winchester Blvd., San Jose, CA 95128
The unique cultural connection of man and nature has always been of interest to architect Eugene Sakai. A son of a Japanese gardener and grandson of a walnut farmer, Sakai’s creativity was always inspired by his environment. His firm, Studio S Squared, designs sustainable establishments that are creatively resonant with the Bay Area’s diverse, historical architecture. The firm has hundreds of projects found in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area.
The LEED-certified firm has constructed stunning residential and commercial projects in San Jose. Willow Glen is a neighborhood filled with charming traditional homes. The homeowners of this Spanish style house wanted to be innovative without being too flashy. A modest exterior was given to the home to highlight the homeowner’s ornate tropical backyard.
746 The Alameda Suite #30, San Jose, CA 95126
Award-winning Modulus Architecture designs creative spaces that play with light, space, and experience. The firm’s diverse portfolio features unique residential and commercial projects. Founder David Fenster is an award-winning architect who has experience working with diverse residential, retail, and corporate designs. His experience is reflected in the firm’s achievements as Modulus has won several awards from AIA Silicon Valley.
The Six Oaks project in San Jose is one of the firm’s most sustainable creations. Located in a redwood forest, the home is made with recycled shipping containers painted with a brick red color in order to better blend with its surrounding. Functional essentialism is the theme of this home. This means every space of the home has been optimized and all of the materials were repurposed resources. Aside from the shipping containers, recycled plywood sheets and fallen redwood trees were used for the home’s flooring and staircases.