Concrete Thinking Think Concrete
Thinkers> David Horobin  
David HorobinFor British-born David Horobin, sustainability has been a commitment in his profession long before it became a “movement.” He and his business partner, Maurice Camargo of Estudio Verde Architects in Napa, Calif., view the current wave of interest in sustainability in the U.S. as the “people’s will” and he looks upon that with a great deal of excitement and satisfaction. He believes governments and businesses are finally listening to the people and addressing their requests.

Horobin was first introduced to sustainable design during his architectural education in London and Oxford. As a Licentiate Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Horobin comes from the school of thought that architects have an obligation to be responsible in the way they design. In he and Camergo’s work, they balance functionality with aesthetics and focus heavily on energy efficiency and resource-efficient stewardship.

Even in the hot Napa Valley sun, he has successfully designed homes that do not require cooling equipment. “I believe that most of the energy we need to heat and cool (our buildings) is in the ground or comes from the sun,” says Horobin. He went on to say that responsible design can do away with much the emissions from buildings and homes.

One of the first homes he designed nearly 30 years ago in Palo Alto, Calif., had to receive permission from the utility company to co-generate electricity from photovoltaic panels and sell excess electricity back to the utility. That home used solar energy from the pool to warm the house in the winter. In the summer, it takes heat from the house to heat the pool. Horobin put this same approach to work on his current home in Napa, a green dream home he built for his family in 2008.

Hobobin’s current home features a building envelope made of insulating concrete forms (ICFs). Horobin first noticed the use of ICFs in Germany in 1982 and fell in love with the technology. “Insulating the thermal mass of concrete is a whole new animal,” he says. He has designed two ICF systems currently on the market.

He also notes how concrete homes excel with regards to durability and safety, critical sustainability considerations for Horobin. With the horrific experience of losing his home in the Los Gatos fire of 1985, Horobin points to his concrete home, “It will last and sustain the elements, including fire. A concrete home isn’t going anywhere.”

With great pride, he notes that he was an early adopter of the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) fortified building standard.

Horobin also enjoys the quiet comfort of a concrete structure where he can play his Pink Floyd collection without worry of disturbing the neighbors.

For inspiration, Horobin looks to his peers who practice with the same philosophy for sustainable design, consideration for energy efficiency and a commitment to future generations and the future of the planet.

“I’m inspired by those who do a good job for this planet and future generations by using the natural energy and other resources that are available. I believe that as building design professionals, we inherently have that responsibility.”