Liquid Reserves: A San Francisco Home Focuses on Water Conservation

Residence 950 Exterior

Photos by Jacob Elliot

May 16, 2019

Located near the crest of San Francisco’s exclusive Russian Hill neighborhood, the 9,500-square-foot, five-bedroom house has plenty of luxury amenities, including a four-car underground garage, a glass-walled elevator, a double-height art gallery, outdoor dining room with retractable movie screen, and an infinity-edge lap pool. 

residence 950 pool

But the unusual spec home also has the city’s largest residential rainwater cistern. The 12,500-gallon cistern supplies 40-50,000 gallons of water a year for the home’s irrigation and toilets, and the filtered water can be used as an emergency potable water source.

Together with technological innovations such as a whole-house leak detection system from Leak Defense, and more typical water-saving features such as low-flow faucets and drought-tolerant landscaping, the home should draw 80 to 90 percent less water than typical construction, according to the developer, Troon Pacific.

“We wanted to address water conservation as part of our commitment to optimizing sustainable measures, especially when it comes to luxury homes,” says Greg Malin, Troon Pacific’s CEO. “Because water is relatively inexpensive in our state, the cistern is a loss leader—the cost isn’t justified. But we live in a drought-prone area, and we think it’s the right thing to do and our responsibility to be proactive.”

Residence 950 exterior grounds

Residence 950 is a renovation of a 1907 shingled home by influential San Francisco architect Willis Polk. Babac Doane at Ken Linsteadt Architects reimagined the traditional house with completely modernized interiors and substantial additions. In this home, the high-end residential developer’s sixth LEED Platinum–certified project, heating is provided by a hydronic radiant system with separate zones for different areas of the house, and is powered by a gas boiler that supplies hot water as well. A Grundfos adapting recirculation pump, which speeds up or slows down based on demand, delivers hot water efficiently to the tap.

While this house has both gas and electric appliances—the kitchen has both gas and induction cooktops to provide more options for the homeowner—Troon Pacific isn’t committed to natural gas. “We’re thinking of making the switch to all-electric in our newest projects, because it is more sustainable, and self-sufficiency is something that people are interested in,” says Malin.

To create a home that is also optimized for the health of its occupants, the house is specifically designed with wellness in mind. It has a Zehnder energy-recovery ventilator, which captures and reuses heat and humidity from exhaust air while continuously refreshing the interiors with filtered air; more than 30 air vents are installed around the house, including in every closet. The lap pool uses UV filtration instead of chlorine or saltwater in order to be gentler to the skin and hair. And to encourage a regular fitness regime, the home’s guest cottage/exercise center is equipped with a steam room, sauna, hot tub, yoga deck, and private massage room. “Health is the ultimate luxury,” says Malin.


Project Name / Residence 950

Architect / Babac Doane at Ken Lindsteadt Architects, San Francisco

Interior Design / Troon Pacific, San Francisco

General Contractor / Impact Builders, San Francisco

Water Conservation Consultant / Brookwater Inc., Pleasanton, CA

Cistern Consultant / WaterSprout, Oakland, CA

Sustainable Materials Consultant / Stok, San Francisco

Solar / Luminalt, San Francisco

Home Tech Consultant / AVDG, San Francisco

Residence 950 living room


Elevator / Elevator Boutique

Kitchen island / Boffi

Kitchen countertops / Calacatta Oro marble

Kitchen flooring / Mandarin White limestone

Kitchen appliances / Gaggenau

Residence 950 bathroom

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