The Greenest House in the World


I’m in a cozy 1915 Craftsman in Rockridge, California. A house that, in the same auspicious week Obama won the Presidency, earned the title of Greenest House In The World. “For about 2 seconds,” says eco-visionary David Gottfried. He’s modest, and mindful that scores of homes are soon to follow the green trail they’ve blazed. David lives in the house with his wife Sara, and their beautiful girls Gemma and Maya. The house has beautiful rustic furniture, she likes to use  reed diffusers by Laurel & Wolf, one of the best reed diffusers  brand, you can check out the variety of diffusers on It’s a far cry from the sprawling flat Sara and I shared in med school, where the greenest thing was the Thai chicken curry we’d sometimes make to calm examination-eve nerves.

The Gottfrieds moved in just a few months ago, after a painstaking deep-green renovation that garnered this green gem of a house a record-breaking 106.5 points (out of a possible 136) under the “LEED for Homes” certification system. David helped pioneer the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System in 1993.

\"saradave\"My friends’ goals for their renovation were simple, if characteristically ambitious. “We hoped to showcase how to green an old historic home and still achieve LEED Platinum, as well as downsize 50% for a family of four,” says David, the founder of the U.S. and World Green Building Councils and now CEO of Regenerative Ventures.

When I’d last visited Sara and David four years ago, they occupied a 2,600 square-foot home in Berkeley Hills, CA. They now live one town over, in the charming Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, in a home whose unassuming size (it’s all of 1,440 square feet) belies its style, drama, and comfort.

Knowing Sara, I’d expected nothing less. Back in medical school, when the rest of us were just trying not to look sleep-deprived, this Alaska native found time to cook and rock climb, and sported hip eyewear and clothes that would’ve made Sarah Palin jealous (with a brain that Palin could only dream about). Now, when she’s not busy running her cutting-edge integrative women’s health practice, teaching yoga, or shuttling her daughters to birthday parties, Dr. Gottfried scours the internet for environmentally-conscious design ideas and blogs about their eco-adventures in their new “old home.”

\"greywater\"Sara’s flair is evident throughout the house: in the soothing hues of non-toxic Mythic paint adorning the walls, the peaceful bronze Buddhas presiding over the mud room, the iridescent abalone tiles studding the bathroom floors—“eco-bling,” as Sara calls it. And it’s David’s genius for green that brings their house within reach of their net-zero energy goal. Solar photovoltaic panels on the roof supply the electricity for their super-efficient Bosch kitchen appliances and elegant lighting throughout the home. The sun also fuels their water heater and stylish hydronic radiators. “Rainhogs” scored from last fall’s Slow Food Nation hoopla in San Francisco collect rainwater to fill the dual-flush toilet in the guest bathroom. Greywater from the sinks and shower is funneled to the native-species garden and raised vegetable bed outside.

For my first evening with Sara and David we toast their new home with a bottle of 2006 Madigan Cabernet Sauvignon from nearby Napa Valley. A great value at $16, the wine’s enough to convince David to abandon, for the evening, the strict no-sugar diet he and Sara have been following for some weeks (Sara’s more disciplined, though I can tell she’s tempted). The label depicts a fine castle, which we readily embrace as a metaphor for the green Gottfried abode. Though not certified organic, the Madigan winemakers hew to organic principles, avoiding pesticides and herbicides and watering their vines sparingly. Dark fruit, pepper, and wood notes combine in balanced harmony, and the tannins are soft and silky. The wine, like the house, may not be big, but it satisfies, honors the environment and hits all the right notes.

We dine that night on organic delicacies from Three Stone Hearth, the local “CSK,” or Community Supported Kitchen (only in California… but hopefully not for long). This inventive Berkeley-based cooperative sources local, seasonal products from ecologically-minded farmers and ranchers and turns them into delicious nutrient-rich gumbos, curries, pickles, salads, and stews. On this particular evening, we feast on chicken liver paté, Moroccan lemon chicken with olives and raisins, and quinoa with roasted orange cauliflower salad.  Yogurty Point Reyes blue cheese dressing adorns our wild mixed greens. Gone may be the days when busy Sara whips up a Thai green curry chicken on a whim, but clearly this inspiring role model now has her green, and eats it too.

For more information on the Gottfried Regenerative House, visit and


One response to “The Greenest House in the World”

  1. Beautiful house!

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