This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2021 issue of WQP as "Bridging the Sustainability Divide"
When Dan Brunn, AIA, Principal of Dan Brunn Architecture, set out to design Bridge House, his concept was straight-forward yet ambitious: create a home that connects to nature in the most seamless way possible, using eco-friendly solutions to ultimately achieve a net-zero home.
The one-of-a-kind home is aptly named Bridge House not only for the fact that it literally stretches across a stream bed in urban Los Angeles, but for the way that it bridges modern living with the natural environment. The design exemplifies Brunn’s signature minimalist aesthetic while integrating innovative systems and forward-thinking processes, serving as an inspiration for homeowners to rethink the future of residential design.
With water as an essential element to the overall design of the home, Brunn was particularly interested to work with a water partner that could help bring his vision to life, and he turned to global water treatment company Pentair. With a broad range of technologies to treat, filter and manage water as well as energy efficient pool and spa solutions, Pentair could deliver a whole home water solution to help achieve Brunn’s sustainability objectives.
“Water has a purposeful function as well as an aesthetic that appeals to all of our senses—sight, sound, taste, flavor and touch,” Brunn said. “Through the collaboration with Pentair, we were looking to create a heightened experience in the way one interacts with water throughout Bridge House, while also ensuring that we are managing the water in a sustainable way.”
Home, Kitchen & Bath
Pentair was excited to work with Brunn to help ensure the water at Bridge House was efficiently, effectively and reliably managed, both inside and out. Pentair initiated the project by sending a water technician to the site while the home was still under construction to gather a water sample. The sample showed that the water had moderate hardness and elevated levels of chlorine.
To help address these specific water quality concerns, Pentair worked with Water Techniques in Santa Ana, California, to engineer and install a customized, point-of-entry (POE) water treatment system. The custom system for the Bridge House includes a two-stage softening system to reduce scale and residue from minerals and dirt, along with a carbon filter system to reduce chlorine taste and odor throughout the home. Continuous water flow is maintained by the Pentair Fleck 5812 valve, and the Pentair Fleck XTR2 touch screen controller completes the system to allow for easy programming and monitoring. The controller also features a vacation mode to help save water when not in use.
Treating the water from the minute it enters the home delivers higher quality water for drinking, as well as cleaner dishes, laundry and shower walls, and softer skin and hair. There are also environmental benefits. Reducing scale and residue from minerals and dirt in the water can help extend the life of appliances, such as the dishwasher or coffee maker, along with helping to reduce the amount of soap and detergent needed for cleaning.
Brunn intended to utilize the home for entertaining, for both client events on behalf of his architecture firm as well as art events. Therefore, it was important that the water in the kitchen and lower level entertaining area be high quality for cooking, drinking and ice to eliminate the need for bottled water. For this, a three-stage reverse osmosis (RO) undersink system, the Pentair Everpure ROM IV, was installed in each space. The high-recovery membrane is a water-efficient RO systems. Each system delivers the capacity equivalent to 37,850 single-use plastic water bottles annually.*
At the lowest level of the home, a Pentair Myers water disposal pump helps ensure reliable water handling to protect the home from unwanted water.
Easy & Efficient Outdoor Living
As part of Brunn’s vision to connect the home with its natural surroundings, indoor and outdoor living spaces blend effortlessly throughout Bridge House. An infinity pool and spa adjacent to the entertaining area provides a relaxing space for friends and family. Here again, Pentair focused on delivering technologies that would provide an easy and enjoyable experience, while contributing to Brunn’s goal for a net-zero home.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a pool pump can be a home’s second largest energy consumer, behind only the heating and cooling system.** Variable speed pool technology allows the pool owner to adjust the flow rate of the water through the system at varying speeds. This results in the ability to operate the pump for a longer period at lower speeds, delivering up to 90% energy savings.*** The Pentair InterlliFloXF variable speed and flow pump was selected for its ability to deliver performance and efficiency for large and feature-rich pools with high-flow demand, such as Bridge House.
To further improve the pool’s energy efficiency, Brunn opted for the Pentair UltraTemp ETI Hybrid Heater. The pool heater combines a heat pump and gas-fired heater. The hybrid heater provides faster heat-ups by operating in gas-fired and heat pump modes simultaneously. It also has a unique hybrid mode, which runs state-of-the-art programming logic to determine the fastest and most efficient way to heat the pool based on user input, water temperature differential and time period for optimal efficiency.
In keeping with the environmental considerations throughout the home, Brunn wanted to limit the amount of chemicals needed to treat the pool water. Chlorine not only can result in dry, itchy skin but the chemical odor was at odds with the aesthetics of the experience he was looking to create. An energy-efficient ultraviolet light sanitizer, Pentair BioShield, neutralizes bacteria to reduce chlorine usage. Paired with a cartridge pool filter and robotic pool cleaner, the pool water is kept sparkling and clear.
Energy efficient lighting and water features helped to create a feeling of a backyard oasis, with the total experience connected with smart, automated technology. The Pentair IntelliCenter Control System allows Brunn to easily manage pool and spa features, including lighting, temperature, chemistry and water quality—from anywhere in the world.
The end result? A system that works from all points of water within the house.
“In this home, we have drinkable water that tastes good with the right amount of minerals, treated water for spotless dishes and perfect ice cubes, a shower that makes your skin feel great while delivering on cleanability, and a pool that is well thought out, and all systems are integrated,” Brunn said. “It’s all seamless and amazing.”
The water solutions utilized at Bridge House can be incorporated into any home, whether the homeowner is building new, embarking on a remodel or looking to address specific water concerns.
*Calculations based on 16.9 fluid ounce bottle.
*** Savings based on variable speed pump compared to a single-speed pump running 12 hours per day at an average of $0.16 per kWh in a 20,000 gallon pool. Actual savings may vary based on local utility rates, pool size, pump run time, pump horsepower, pump rpm, plumbing size and length, pump model, service factor and other hydraulic factors. Individual Weighted Energy Factor (WEF) scores and savings may vary by model.