Fairway to Green: Energy-efficient, modern design make new Spanish Trail home stand out

Modern design has found its way to Spanish Trail where new construction is rare, but those aren’t  the only reasons a new home completed there this year is notable.

It is one of only 68 Southern Nevada homes with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation, which is a globally recognized green building certification for energy-efficient design, construction and operation.

A project by architect Michael Gardner of Henderson-based studio g Architecture, the residence at 27 Burning Tree Court in the golf course community was built for Jamie and Sara Costello, who own an investment advisory business.

“The home was designed with a modern aesthetic, which is not common for a home in Spanish Trail,” says Gardner, 39. “The single-story design enabled us to make great use of the space and provided better opportunities for energy-saving elements.”

Two lots were combined (including one with the former house of Jamie Costello’s parents, which was demolished) to build the 8,120-square-foot, single-story residence. The new home has three bedrooms, a library, media room and wine room in one section of the property, and a separate structure with two offices, a gym and a bedroom. A pool and spa is located between the two buildings, and a four-car garage connects to the main house. A separate two-car garage connects to the back house.

“It’s almost full doughnut-shaped. We wanted to maintain that privacy and this layering of space,” Gardner says. “Every space you are in is tied to the outdoors. That was one of the critical designs.”

It was a challenge to educate homeowners association members, who were uncertain about approving a contemporary design, Gardner says, but they saw what was happening around the valley and knew Spanish Trail had to evolve.

“We didn’t want this house to be this modern box eyesore in this already established community,” Gardner says. “One of the big challenges was in keeping with the design principles originally here, but giving it that contemporary feel — that indoor-and-outdoor feel with large, expansive glass.”

Unlike much of the modern architecture around town, there are multiple rooflines in this home, Gardner says. The great room has an 18-foot ceiling, and there are five to six rooflines that pay homage to more traditional-style architecture. But the form, overhangs and materials are more in line with contemporary modern design, he says.

The home was built with a ventilation system that brings outdoor air inside, and there’s indoor moisture control along with high-efficiency air filters to prevent allergens from forming, Gardner says. Sealing and insulation throughout helped offset the costs of heating and cooling. All materials used are nontoxic and sourced within a 500-mile radius.

Gardner, who started his firm in 2010 after moving to Las Vegas from California, has been an advocate for more modern architecture rather than the Tuscan and Mediterranean style prevalent in Las Vegas luxury homebuilding for two decades.

“I don’t think (LEED is) very popular here, and there’s not a lot of my peers promoting its importance,” Gardner says. “It’s done in California, Oregon and Washington where people are more conscious about it. You can’t do a project there without some level of this type of certification.”

While this level of green-home construction can add about 5 percent to the cost, Gardner says, some of that is recovered in lower utility costs.