Antique house goes green

Once home to former MV mayor, Latham Street house is model of efficiency

Nearly 100 years after it was built, a Mountain View house that was once home to a local dignitary has been transformed into a model of 21st century efficiency.

The house, located at 1390 Latham St., belonged to James Harvey Cochran, who served as mayor from 1922-26 and helped draft the Mountain View city charter. Today, though the edifice looks much as it did when Cochran inhabited the home, a quick walk around the property will reveal that there is nothing old-fashioned about the house.

Solar panels line the roof, a gray-water system collects water from the gutters, synthetic turf has replaced a lawn, the chimneys have been removed, hot water comes from tank-less instant water heaters, and much of the old wood stripped from the home during renovation has been repurposed for banisters and other features.

Pauline Partti, who owns the home, said it took about three years to complete the renovations, which also installed state-of-the-art insulation.

The result, said Partti, who used to live in Los Altos Hills, is that she has seen her utility bills plummet. "Going green is quite a financial savings," she said, noting that she pays only a few dollars each month for energy.

According to Partti, the success she has had with her home, which was in shambles when she bought it, is proof that even structures in disrepair can be refurbished -- an important lesson in a society that often prefers to just knock down the old and build something new, she said.

"I truly believe that if people focused on making their homes more efficient, then every person on this planet would benefit," Partti said.

Partti understands that she has resources that others may not have. All the same, she said, there are things that can be done on any budget to make a home greener. For those who live in houses with fireplaces, this could mean cutting back on or eliminating fires; taking it one step further homeowners could look into sealing their flues -- where heat can escape and reduce a structure's energy efficiency.

"Burning wood in 2011 is something that we simply don't need to do," she said.

For those with a bit more to spend, Partti recommended buying a front-loading laundry machine, which uses less water, less soap and gets more moisture out of clothes on the spin cycle than top-loading washers, allowing for less time in the dryer. Front-loading washers can range in price from around $600 to $1,000 or more.

A more involved measure to take is installing instant water heaters. "Keeping 50 gallons of water hot all the time is such a waste," she said. Instant water heaters come in a wide range of prices.

Those interested in learning more about Partti's home are invited to come to the charity open house she is planning to hold before the end of the school year. Tickets will be sold to benefit the Castro School's dual immersion program, which aims to teach elementary school students to be fluent in both Spanish and English.

The program, which her son attends, is reflective of Partti's broader worldview. "We all have to recognize that we live in a global society," she said, encouraging her neighbors in Mountain View to take action to benefit future generations. "It's the small things that you do that really make a difference."


Like this comment
Posted by Matt Math
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 2, 2011 at 7:07 am

I'd like to see how much capital was needed to convert the house to all that breen tech, compared with the energy savings. I'll lay dollars to donuts that it could take decades to get into the black
with regards to the money invested. Its great that her energy bills are lower, but she's not saving one dime until the difference saved in her energy bills is greater that the total invested in the green technologies. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

Like this comment
Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Rossta is a registered user.

@MattMath, a better way to look at the capital expenditure vs. energy savings would be to consider the difference in price between standard products and the energy efficient ones. And, maybe also, the difference in cost between restoration of this historic home vs. the demolish and start over approach.

Given that the house was in a state of disrepair to begin with, there wasn't the option of doing nothing, so I applaud Ms. Partti for making wise choices.

Like this comment
Posted by Commuter
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 5, 2011 at 9:06 am

Anyone possibly know what is up with the broken down house at the corner of Shoreline and California Ave, right by the high school? It looks like it's about to collapse with the next puff of wind. Isn't something like that a hazard to the community? At the very least an eyesore in a prominant area.

Like this comment
Posted by me pc
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Thanks Rossta,
I think the long term will pay in multiples!!! And thanks to the owner for making our community better.
It would be responsible if PG&E did this for all of us in CA.

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