May 13, 2002

Chevron Texaco Conservation Awards Program
575 Market Street, Room 3418
San Francisco, CA 94105

Dear Directors:

I first heard about the sustainable buildings at Hidden Villa from the NCSEA (Northern California Solar Energy Association) newsletter. As a planning commissioner for the City of Cupertino, I was mostly interested in ideas that could make sense in our suburban community. Such examples abound at Hidden Villa. The use of recycled materials, passive solar features, less toxic materials, and bare finishes are elements that make sense anywhere, and inspire people to think differently before they automatically install that carpet or paint that wall. The Hostel is a good example of reuse of materials that would have gone into a landfill.

The radiant heating system is much more compelling in the concrete (pun intended) than it is in theory, so it is useful to have such a fine system to reference. The rammed earth wall is spectacular and revives the idea of architecture as art; reconnecting people to natural forms. The Community Center straw bale house is a revelation. And both the

Hostel and the Community Center are noteworthy for their exemplary architecture, as well as their sustainable features.

As a planning commissioner, it seems that 90 percent of the residential structures I see are "post" this and "neo" that. Mostly they are style-less, undifferentiated, poorly detailed boxes lacking in genuineness, character and panache. Not so for Hidden Villa's collection of noteworthy buildings. They serve as living examples that it costs no more-and perhaps a lot less--to build great structures that incorporate the features of environmental sustainability.

For these reasons, and because in my profession I can see the influence such examples can have in future building practices, I commend Hidden Villa. I fully endorse this organization's nomination for the Chevron Texaco Conservation Award.



Marc Auerbach

Planning Commissioner

City of Cupertino