On Tuesday, Feb. 28, Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith and Mitchel Slomiak, chair of the city’s Environmental Quality Commission, presented an award to Tavinder and Vivek Wadhwa for exemplary environmental efforts in the educational and sustainable building categories. The couple are pioneers of sorts: They live in the first passive home built in San Mateo County, which they purchased last year.
“I was delighted to win the award,” said Vivek, who was also recognized this month as an Outstanding American By Choice by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “But, I admit it was unimaginable to not be chosen. This must be the most environmentally-friendly home in Menlo Park, if not all of California.”
The Wadhwa’s home was built by Clarum Homes. Passive homes improve air quality and save homeowners on their heating and cooling costs by primarily heating the home with solar and internal gains from electrical equipment and other objects. Energy consumption is reduced by 90% or more compared to that of conventional homes.
“The temperature never goes below 68 or above 72,” explained Vivek. “Normal houses have drafts near windows. We have none. And, our PG&E bill averages $40 a month.”
Vivek is a tech entrepreneur currently focused on academic pursuits. He and his wife moved to the Bay Area from North Carolina and lived in Berkeley and Palo Alto before purchasing their Menlo home. “We’d been house hunting for about a month and we couldn’t believe how beautiful this house was — and that it had been on the market for over 30 days,” he recalled. “We snapped it right up. Our assumption is that other buyers were hesitant because of all the high tech stuff. Would it all really work?”
“The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. It not only works, it’s amazing. Buying it was the best decision I’ve made in my life! Now, we need to get more experts building and designing homes like this.”