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October 20, 2005

Real Goods Solar Living Center

Below is a profile for Real Goods- A alternative energy center and gardens located in Hopland, California.

Project Type:
Retail sustainable goods outlet/ Non- Profit Institute for solar and sustainable technologies, 12 Acres in size

Architect: Sim Van der Ryn
Landscape Architects: Stephanie Kotin and Chris Tebbutt
Completed June 1996

Website: http://www.realgoods.com/
Address: 13771 South Highway 101 Hopland, CA 95449
Phone: (888) 212-5640

Project Background:
The Real Goods Solar Living center is the vision of John Schaeffer, the founder of the sustainable products company Real Goods. Located about 90 miles north of San Francisco, the center encompasses three distinct elements: The 5000 square foot Real Goods retail store, the Solar Living Center- a non-profit educational and research division of Real Goods, and Solar 2000, a 132 kilowatt solar array, which is one of the largest solar power sites in Northern California. Real Goods is a mail-order based company, which had over 18 million dollars in sales in 1996 when the center opened. The project was built as a model for the use of sustainable energy technologies, building materials, and a showcase for the company’s products. The Solar Living Center manages the facilities and grounds and focuses on educational workshops and continuing research. This includes the promotion of sustainable building materials and techniques, permaculture, and sustainable landscape design.

Project Design:
Sustainable design of both the architecture and the landscape was of foremost importance for the center. The site selected along Highway 101 in Hopland, lies in a 20 year flood plain and at the time of purchase was a CalTrans dumpsite. The husband-wife landscape architecture team of Stephanie Kotin and Chris Tebbutt transformed what was a bare, noisy site into an interesting and lush oasis with as much landscape meaning as interesting form. Solar energy panels are built into and featured within the grounds of the center and incorporate the ideas of sustainable energy use directly into the landscape. Distinct design elements such as incorporation of the cardinal directions as distinct axis, a solar calendar, a central artesian well and stream, and a large pond and wetland are all designed together into an inclusive package, rich with symbolism and artistry. Throughout the site individual design elements speak to the message and artistic quality of the grounds. One poignant example of these elements is the Memorial Car Grove. The grove contains old rusting muscle cars that have had holes cut in the roofs to allow trees to grow through. Elements such as this show a rich synthesis of message with form.

-A Place in the Sun- the book about the creation of Real Goods
-Personal Site Visit

For More:
-Review of A Place in the Sun

-Solar Living Institute

-Van Der Ryn Architects





Posted by Michael O'Connell at October 20, 2005 05:58 PM


Energy for Keeps: Electricity from Renewable Energy

An illlustrated guide for everyone who uses electricity


Posted by: Marilyn Nemzer at November 25, 2005 01:56 PM


Thank you for the related link. I am sure that people interested in Real Goods will also be interested in your book.

Posted by: Michael O'Connell at November 28, 2005 07:46 AM

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