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Jury Briefs

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01. Sustainability & Resilience : Key Concepts - Summary

Key Strategies for Integration of Sustainable Design

  • Healthy Home Principles serve as a primary design driver, essential to the success and comfort of a sustainable home.
  • Built to last. Advanced waterproofing methods with Blueskin® adhesive rainscreen increase the structure's longevity while enhancing indoor air quality and air-tightness.
  • Occupant experience of increased comfort, health, and safety:
    • Increased mental and physical health.
    • Health benefits of air filtration/air exchange.
    • Noise reduction.
    • Air quality - no VOC, mold-resistant, air quality control, etc.
  • Passive resilience design elements:
    • Designed for passive survivability to be used even when the electricity grid fails.
    • Fire-resistant design (fire sprinklers, metal roofing, non-venting eaves and crawl space).
  • Community-building through:
    • Teaching construction skills and focusing on sustainable housing.
    • Literally building a community.
    • Looking to the future to expand access to sustainable, affordable, healthy homes.
  • Water and energy conservation design:
    • High-performance building envelope.
    • An air-tight building envelope coupled with an energy recovery ventilation system (ERV) allows inhabitants to have continuous fresh filtered air throughout the home. The home's exhaust air is pulled through the ERV that heats, cools, and humidifies the incoming fresh filtered air silently distributed throughout the home.
  • Architectural design - flexible open plan design layout.
  • Using TJI and pre-cut lumber to minimize waste, lumber products optimize structure to reduce material needed. Due to the concern of shipping round-trip, we used more plywood than we would traditionally.  As we develop this model, we will continue to refine the design to limit waste during construction.
  • Off-grid optimized smart electrical system.
  • We have worked to design and build well beyond code requirements because: "Quality is more than the absence of defects; it is the presence of value."
  • Societal impact of increasing the quality of a community’s housing stock:
    • Salinas housing stock is aging.
    • Long-term rental housing is not generally well maintained.
    • Help grow the economy - We have jobs but not housing.
      • People are currently living in hotels to be close to job opportunities.
      • Migrant labor.
      • High cost of living - We can’t get/retain the community members we need.
        • e.g.,  Rancho Cielo teachers, doctors, and staff for the nearby hospital.
  • High-performance exterior envelope with Blueskin® rainscreen waterproofing with continuous application keeps moisture out while allowing household vapors to escape. This increases the structure's durability and longevity, preventing moisture, wood rot, and mold build-up in the roof, walls, and floors.
  • ThermaCork siding and insulation in one: breathable, lightweight, reusable.
    • The use of cork is also positive for the management of embodied carbon since the cork sequesters carbon. By applying it to housing, you lock in that sequestered carbon through the lifetime of the housing. Natural cork siding offers insulation and exterior siding in one. We display methods to paint the cork and apply it with traditional board and batten siding methods.
    • Cork is a completely natural raw material with unique properties that give it an unrivaled character.
    • It is lightweight, impermeable to liquids and gasses, elastic and compressible, provides thermal and acoustic insulation, is a fire retardant, and is highly abrasion-resistant.
    • Cork is an entirely renewable resource and is recyclable.
  • A high-performance exterior envelope dramatically reduces the energy required for heating and cooling:
    • The airtightness gives you control over indoor air quality by reducing the intrusion of unplanned pollutants and allergens by around 90%. Continuous fresh and filtered air is provided by ERVs. Also, the airtightness increases resilience to extreme weather, fires, smoke, and power outages.
    • Passive house protocols also enhance physical comfort in terms of constant temperatures and quiet and emotional comfort in knowing that you are providing a safer and healthier home for family members.

Reduction of Life Cycle Impacts

  • The use of natural materials like wood, cork, homasote, and tile allow for reuse and are biodegradable with less embodied energy.
  • Engineered lumber uses recycled wood particles compressed into forms optimized for desired structural qualities while reducing weight and dimensions.
  • After its lifespan of use, engineered lumber and cork siding can be shredded and reconstituted into new building materials. Wood and cork are renewable resources, and when sustainably harvested, they sequester carbon and provide habitat, sustainable jobs, environmental stewardship, biofiltration, and oxygen. 
  • Continuous Blueskin® waterproofing with specific application methods is fully adhered to prevent lateral water movement. This ensures durable waterproofing, allowing vapor to escape rather than build up in the walls.
  • A continuous exterior insulation, in addition to an insulated wall cavity, stops the heat/cool before it enters the wall. Thermal bridging in walls improves building durability, longevity, interior comfort, and livability (sustainability) and, at the same time, substantially decreases the carbon footprint of the home over what standard construction and insulation practices offer.
  • Advanced energy efficiency insulation, air-tightness, and extra efficient appliances allow for less carbon and energy use over its lifespan and smaller heating/cooling loads requiring smaller, more affordable appliances.
  • Pre-fabrication reduces travel time, building waste, and the overall carbon footprint of the construction process.
  • Construction with the help of marginalized student teams allows a training opportunity while reducing poverty.
  • Fabrication occurs in underserved regions with lower labor costs while being delivered to more affluent neighborhoods where labor costs are much higher. This reduces costs and increases wage equity and labor market mobility.

Modular Prefabrication Benefits

  • Less vehicular traffic to a residential site - disturbance noise.
  • Greatly reduced period of construction/disruption on residential sites.
  • Health benefits of prefab building.
  • Building materials are less exposed to mold ,pollutants, and other allergens.

Water Reduction, Reclamation, and Reuse

  • All roof surfaces are used for rainwater catchment
  • Greywater from the shower and clothes washer is used to irrigate drought-tolerant landscapes. Vegetation adapts and becomes responsive to user showering/clothes washing habits.
  • Heat pump condensate water used to irrigate planters. Unlike municipal tap water, the condensate water contains no chlorine or other chemicals. It forms when the condenser heat pump unit cools warm air, which creates condensation. This condensation is directed safely into planters. We estimate harvesting 5 to 20 gallons (23-91 L.) of irrigation water per day.
  • ¼ inch plumbing lines, when used with the right low-flow fixtures, have adequate water pressure and quicker response time while reducing water consumption and lowering heating loads. Increased flow decreases the potential build-up of biofilm in pipes that can contain more infectious severe viruses and bacteria.
  • Surrounding landscape with drought-tolerant plants creates cooling and humidity for user comfort. It also allows users to harvest the benefits of biophilic design, such as recreation, reduced stress, food production, and fresh air.
  • Extra efficient appliances - dishwasher, space-saving heat pump, clothes washer/dryer, induction stovetop.

Influence Consumer Behavior Towards Sustainable Design and Construction

  • Design is clean, accessible, and familiar. We offer a series of roof pitches to choose from, and the design will integrate well into an existing neighborhood context.
  • The loft module can be raised or slanted differently based on urban context and user preferences.
  • Innovative cork siding made to look familiar with board and batten siding.
  • A visible display of the custom solar thermal system raises awareness of renewable energy at work. Users will be reminded to take showers when the water heating is free.
  • Healthy home methods aren’t a  hard sell. After a survey of our students to ask who has encountered mold in their homes, most of our students said yes.

Key Resilience Strategies

Lifecycle impacts are primarily the embodied carbon associated with building materials and systems and the construction process.

Fire Alarms, Surveillance, and Monitoring

  • Cork is a natural fire retardant; it burns without a flame and does not emit toxic gasses during combustion.
  • No vents in the eaves and crawl space prevent fire from entering the building.
  • Air-tight design prevents smoke from entering the home. Fresh air enters through the ERV systems and is filtered.
  • Metal roofing is highly fire resistant, designated with a Class A fire rating, and one of the most non-combustible roofing materials with the greatest strength to stand up to fires. The Underwriters Laboratories Inc. Standard For Safety states, "1.3 Class A roof coverings are effective against severe fire test exposures."
  • The Nexus 01 home is fitted with a code-compliant fire sprinkler system.

Survival at Power Outages, Passive Survivability

  • Solar PV and a battery backup system (in this case, Enphase) are designed for off-grid applications to be free of grid-tied obligations and power outages. Moreover, by adding a SPAN Smart Electric Panel, this system is fully operational and can be managed from anywhere on your phone or tablet. In other words, goodbye utility!
  • Solar thermal heats water with minimal energy use (only a small pump).

Innovation - Sustainability & Resilience

Education is the most sustainable design strategy there is. Sustainability needs to address not only the construction itself but also the students’ lives. Sustainability as it pertains to good paying long-term jobs and employment. Sustainability in pride and work ethic. Sustainability in quality of life and positive impact on society.

Training life skills through innovative construction practices, with a new approach for affordable, self-contained, sustainable, state-of-the-art healthy homes.

  • Vocational training as a path to changing lives.
    •  Reference team profile and Rancho Cielo website.
  • Building a skilled and trained workforce.
  • Literally building a community - physical buildings and people, providing jobs and a more sophisticated knowledge base beyond standard building practices.
  • Deployable - designed to be delivered and deployed on almost any site.

Unique Sustainable Design Elements

  • Cork siding is an amazing material with many aesthetic, efficiency, and regenerative design benefits that is also a great way to sequester carbon.
  • Unique building form is optimized for solar exposure and rain catchment while breaking the "cookie cutter" standard mold of prefab modular design.
  • Healthy Home methods are often overlooked or undervalued in sustainable design. In our case they are primary design drivers that dictate specific design details, materials, and construction methods. This results in multiple compounding benefits: user comfort, health and well-being, durability, energy efficiency, increased desirability, added property value, and bragging rights.
  • Education is the most sustainable, net-positive solution of all. Training our youth and giving them a chance, including on-the-job experience, diverts them from unemployment, homelessness, crime, and recidivism. We are building a better future and supporting future generations to create a sustainable community.

 Innovative Strategies During Acquisition, Assembly, and Decommissioning

  • The Hayward Fast Floor System delivered pre-cut engineered lumber (optimized composites made of OSB, parallams, and solid lumber) and solid lumber from Santa Maria to Salinas by train. The lumber was precut and labeled for easy assembly. This means additional layers of optimized prefabrication.
  • As a prototype home, Nexus 01 will initially be installed and displayed at the Rancho Cielo Campus and fulfill its intended purpose as a live/work housing unit for Rancho Cielo students or staff. During office hours, it can serve as office space. Then, it can be transformed into residential housing in the evenings and weekends. It can also serve as a showcase and reference for reproductions. Nexus 02 is already being planned.  
  • Flexibility of the space increases the lifespan of the structure. The structure can transition from housing to office to workshop to storage facility over its lifespan.
  • Portability of the structure allows for increased uses and a longer life span. Once its usefulness has diminished in one location, it can be disassembled and transported to another location where it will be more useful. 

02. Architecture & Interior Design: Key Concepts - Summary 

Welcome to Nexus 01

  • Welcoming & Friendly - Making a home that fits in on the Rancho Cielo campus and the larger Monterey County community.
    • Rustic yet modern look and feel.
    • Designed with the feel of a traditional yet modern home, it has the elements of high-tech sustainability while feeling like a comfortable and friendly living space. 
    • ADU or Starter Home - Layout centered on family gathering and community connection.  


Building Form  

  • The prefabricated modular nature of the design is not overtly evident;  it is not a box or mobile home format. Four transportable modules form a coherent whole with a signature dynamic style. 
  • The roof pitch is optimized for solar exposure and rain catchment. 
  • The adaptable interior layout creates a building that can accommodate a variety of users and work as conditions change throughout the building's day, year, and lifetime. Specifically designed to accommodate larger family gatherings. 
  • Shippable to anywhere in the region.
    • Standardized design for typical trucking routes in CA.
    • Modules liftable by crane or forklift. 
    • Lightweight and durable.
    • Extensive built-in furnishing for quicker assembly at the final destination. 
  • Upper Floor Loft Module Addition:
    • Creates a double-height living room - a light, spacious, airy amenity.
    • Loft for storage - replacement for garage, removing clutter from daily life. 
  • Screened porch - a secure space to expand the interior area - not quite indoors or outdoors.
    • Outdoor living room - centered on the “street” to help community connection.
    • Outdoor space to gather with a Solatube to bring in natural light and allow for ventilation - COVID precaution.
    • Can be used as a “resiliency room,” outdoor bedroom, for hanging laundry, or as a plant nursery.
    • Creates a setback for the southwest corner of the building and reduces the hot sun.

Low Maintenance Rental and Transitional Housing Considerations 

  • Easy to clean and maintain.
  • Designed for aging in place accommodations.
  • ADA compatible design
  • High-performance building envelope and Hayward Healthy Home requirements like an ERV system enable smaller mechanical systems, a more durable building, and lower ongoing maintenance.
  • Colorful, bright, and uplifting.
  • Built-in cabinets, shelves, and even a convertible desk alleviate the cost burden of buying furniture, which is critical to short-term occupants or new homeowners.

Use of Local Orange County Professionals 

  • We will use a local staging company to reduce the items we need to ship to Orange County and back. We will stage the home similarly in Rancho Cielo as a model home and demonstration lab for the Construction and Sustainable Design Academy until it is installed on its permanent foundation and rented out as a home.


Layout Optimized for MEP Compatibility

  • Compact, accessible location of the mechanical closet.
  • Short plumbing runs to adjacent fixtures and appliances.
  • The hallway soffit allows for integration of an advanced ERV ventilation system.  


Healthy Home Principles 

  • No toxic materials and no VOC products for interiors, insulation, or exteriors.
  • ERV System to provide clean air exchange.
  • See the HH handout for additional points.
  • Hayward Healthy Home protocols are excellent and well-aligned with passive house principles.
  • Occupant experiences of increased comfort, health, and safety.
    • Increased mental and physical health.
    • Health benefits of air filtration/air exchange.
    • Noise reduction.
    • Air quality - no VOC, mold-resistant, air quality control, etc.


Passive Resiliency

  • Fire prevention design* - no vents in attics or crawlspace. 
  • Loft clearstory to bring in additional light and create a stack ventilation. 
  • Solatube skylights to add additional daylight.
  • Easy indoor/outdoor connections and festive lighting to make the exterior space a welcoming part of the home.
  • Not having vents is a major step in avoiding the intrusion of superheated air during the pressure changes associated with wildfires, which often ignite buildings from the inside. The airtightness of a passive house (including airtight and more robust windows) further reduces the possibility of superheated air intrusion through leaks in the structure or failure of windows due to pressure changes.


Design Follows Performance 

  • The importance of deciding upon performance (in this case, high-performance) at the beginning of the process and including all key players (owner/developer, architect, builder, critical sub-contractors, etc.) in the performance conversation helps to ensure we reach our design goals and avoids changes later in the process. Designing and constructing a building is a collaborative team effort rather than a relay race.
  • Moving performance forward in the design process. Architects generally start the design with the function(s) and then move on to the aesthetics of the design. It is most effective and cost-effective to decide on performance before the design aesthetics to achieve the desired performance most cost-effectively. 
  • Choosing design aesthetics before targeting desired performance can lead to construction delays and increase the cost of a building.

Nexus 01 Interior Design Inspiration

  • To create a bright, easy, colorful, and interesting space that can feel like home as soon as you step in the door. Using traditional methods and design ideas to make a modern home feel comfortable and familiar while reaping the benefits of resilient and sustainable design living.  
  • Creating a space that is equally appropriate as a starter home, temporary housing, for aging in place, or as a backyard ADU extension of your existing home.
  • Creative, built-in storage helps make the space feel bigger while reducing the need for purchased furniture.  
  • Easy to maintain, easy to clean, no VOCs, based on the principles of Hayward Healthy Homes. Design compliant with aging in place principals and can be easily modified for ADA compliance.
  • Flexible spaces and indoor/outdoor connections allow the house to adjust to the everyday life of two people or expand easily to welcome the entire group of friends and family at any given time.
  • Nexus 01’s interior design is up to the challenge of accommodating the needs of anyone who desires to live in a sustainable and resilient home.
  • Reuse of the same products in different and interesting ways to reduce the number of suppliers and help ease the construction learning process.

Coherence of Disciplines and Systems 

  • Collaboration is one of our mantras, hence the name Nexus. The home is a coming together of many different disciplines, people, and families. A series of homes like our co-housing village creates a neighborhood - a community.
  • The house also encapsulates a nexus of technology and building science. We have benefited from a wide range of professionals who believe in the Rancho Cielo mission and want to help teach and train our students. 

Effectiveness of Interior - Comfort , Functionality, and Adaptability

  • Interior design through careful visualization of interior elements and perspectives.
  • Shows the coming together of architecture, structure, materials, textures, and appliances. Provides a holistic impression of interiors for team members to see an accessible way to understand the design. 

The Flow of Architectural Elements 

  • Great care was taken to allow for windows in every room and a combination of spaces to create a larger feeling of inter-connected areas. The kitchen/living/dining room is one - combined into a great room, allowing ample air circulation and visual/aural connectivity. The great room opens to a covered patio with two sliding glass doors allowing light and access; it also opens to a two-story living room space providing air and natural light. This two-story space, in turn, opens into two loft areas that can be used in a multitude of ways: office, storage, playroom, TV room, etc. 
  • Sliding panel doors allow the living and dining rooms to transform into enclosed areas to enable privacy and quiet if the desire is to use these spaces as bedrooms. 

Lighting systems natural & electric 

  • Under cabinet LED lighting. 
  • Caseta by  Lutron allows for wireless distribution and programmable lighting controls. 
  • Natural lighting for every room.
  • Solar tubes for added natural light . 


Unique Elements of Architecture and  Interior Design

  • A collaborative, non-linear process of design, incorporating all systems into the overall design and making adjustments as developed.
  • Unique signature building form breaks the mold of modular prefab design. 
  • The loft module sits like a crown on top of the base modules. It serves as a locking structural element tying base modules together. 
  • A distinctive split-level shed roof allows for optimal solar exposure and rain catchment.
  • The open floor plan extends out to the covered patio, two-story space, and the adjoining loft areas, making the space feel open and spacious.
  • Crossbeams allow for the omission of a central column in the great room. 
  • Bright light and reflective materials allow for an airy, well-lit interior space.
  • Building systems are hidden in an enclosed soffit. 
  • Loft spaces and walk-in closet for ample storage. 
  • Cork siding.
  • Two-story structure designed with four modules for highway transportation.

03. Engineering Construction: Key Concepts - Summary

Technology and Methods that Appeal to our Target Market

  • Our target market is our community workforce and students. As students graduate, they will need housing and want to apply and teach the skills they learned at Rancho Cielo. Our long-term plan includes 100 units for students, staff, and the local workforce.
  • Several traditional site-built homes have been constructed on the Rancho Cielo Campus. With Nexus01, Rancho Cielo has built a comfortable, healthy home and a proven, effective solution for modular prefabrication that can be replicated, sold, and distributed. This home incorporates the latest in sustainable design and home efficiency. It is built by the students, for the students, and serves as a learning-by-doing training opportunity.
  • In the near future, this home, with its integrated technology and replications, will be available to customers for purchase. And by purchasing this home, customers will support the school and its efforts to divert marginalized youths from going astray. Customers will also support innovation, excellence in design and construction, and our community’s sustainability and regenerative design goals.

Hayward Healthy Home Principles

  • Nexus 01 is a display of Hayward Healthy Home Principles and the technology behind it.
  • Air tightness allows for enhanced indoor air quality by keeping chemicals, pollution, mold, and particulate matter when accompanied with an ERV fresh air handling system to continuously and silently pump fresh filtered air throughout the home. A strong emphasis on Healthy Home standards was a driver for the design.
  • Hayward Healthy Home Institute and its Hayward Score database have researched and surveyed 82,000 residences.
  •  A healthy home is a sustainable home in how it increases the lifespan of the home and its inhabitants. The physical and mental health of our inhabitants is essential to a successful, sustainable home. Inhabitants of a healthy home sleep better, concentrate better, learn better, and feel better. The efficiency, while important, is secondary to the health and wellness of our inhabitants.
  • A sealed crawl space prevents dust, mold, and other odors from entering the home through the floor.

Optimized Framing -  Material Science, Fabrication, Delivery and Assembly

  • Our building industry is very familiar with wood construction; it is a sustainable renewable resource. With Nexus 01, we teach our students marketable job skills and relevant methods for today's industry, but with an eye toward the future and optimized construction methods. The Hayward Fast Floor framing method provided pre-cut, engineered, and labeled lumber delivered with an assembly guide, allowing easy assembly. In summary, the Hayward Fast Floor system is engineered and optimized, pre-cut, pre-marked lumber for precision and ease of construction with reduced structural depths to optimize clearance.

 Structural Design Solution Allows for Two-Story Structure

  • Loft module perpendicular to lower modules helps tie the lower modules together
  • Our team has proven a 2 story structure is possible which allows for the same methods being used for larger multi family structures with higher height limits.

All Mod Cons

  • The Nexus 01 has all the modern conveniences and isn't lacking in any sense of the word. We spared no expense; it has all the features and systems of a desirable entry-level home with advanced sustainability and healthy home attributes. We are not expecting our consumers to deny themselves conveniences. Instead, we are ensuring the systems accommodate the user needs of our target markets and bring the technology and efficiency up to this standard of living. A dedicated, recessed mechanical closet located adjacent to all plumbing fixtures is easily accessible and contained.

A Compact Livable Home

  • While compact and limited to 865 sf, the layout is open and inviting, allowing a diversity of spaces and an additional 340 sf of usable space with two lofts and a covered partially enclosed patio space. Individual spaces aggregate to form a large open interior. Nexus 01 resembles a comfortable, inviting home with all the hi-tech bells and whistles under the hood. Technologies and building efficiencies are integrated into the walls, ceilings, and floors.
  • High-performance building envelope design:
    • Air-tightness of building envelope.
    • Maximize insulation continuity with exterior cork that doubles as siding.
    • Reduce membrane puncturing.

Energy Efficiency is Key and Begins with the Envelope

  • Blueskin® adhesive rainscreen prevents lateral water intrusion and doubles as insulation. These advanced membranes are airtight but permeable to allow water vapor to escape and to support appropriate humidity levels (also managed by ERVs).
  • Natural cork siding offers insulation and exterior siding in one. We display methods to paint the cork and apply it with traditional board and batten siding methods. Cork is an entirely natural and raw material with unique properties that give it an unrivaled character. It is lightweight, impermeable to liquids and gases, elastic and compressible, provides thermal and acoustic insulation, is a fire retardant, and is highly abrasion-resistant. Furthermore, it is a completely renewable resource and recyclable.
  • Location of fixtures/appliances to minimize plumbing runs, HVAC ducting, and mechanical connections between units.
  • Fiberglass windows to reduce thermal bridging.
  • High-performance appliances and systems.

Advanced Plumbing Systems Design

  • 1/4” tubing can deliver hot water quicker than larger diameter tubing, allowing for a faster response time.
  •  This tubing is adequate to deliver water to low-flow fixtures as long as the supply pressure isn’t too low or the tubing runs too long.
  •  This tubing can save both water and energy by delivering hot or cold water much faster.
  • Rapid water flow through the tubing may help to reduce the chances of legionella growing in the plumbing.
  • Small tubing is less expensive and easier to install than traditional plumbing.
  • This system is being engineered so we can demonstrate to building officials that it actually works, and this will raise awareness in the industry of this opportunity.
  • The custom-built solar thermal water heating system results in half the cost of normal photovoltaic solar energy.
    • The solar thermal system will provide an estimated 90% of the water heating (as measured by the installer over several years in a similar climate), which is much better. The system design and components are also much simpler, meaning they are easier to maintain and more durable with a longer life span.
  • A Solar Thermal Canopy serves multiple functions, including shading and weather protection for rear landing and water storage tanks.

Fully Electric, Off-Grid, and No Fossil Fuel Combustion. 

  • Reduce GHGs and increase indoor air quality.
  • No connection to a larger electrical grid can dramatically decrease cost and project timeline for some projects, especially in undeveloped areas of the county. Due to expense, PG&E is reluctant to bring service to new parcels in some areas.
  • Allows for passive resilience during large regional power outages.
  • Induction cooktop to reduce demand.
  • Solar thermal canopy to reduce energy demand.
  • Exterior cork insulation to reduce energy demand.
  • Ample area for system expansion.

Smart Systems for User Comfort and Environmental Controls

  • Smart Lutron Caseta lighting controls.
  • SPAN Smart Panel with a full hand-held monitoring system to manage the clean energy produced from your rooftop-mounted solar PV system.

Project Documentation

  • Please refer to the plan set and other submitted documentation, including conceptual master planning diagrams, architectural plans, interior and exterior renderings, structural engineering plans, details and calculations, mechanical engineering plans, Title 24 certification, specifications, the website, brochures, banners, posters, and trailer wrap.


  • Advanced plumbing system design with ¼ inch tubing - challenges building codes and may convince officials to alter them.
  • Solar thermal water heating - saves costs and resources in several ways; it challenges building codes and may convince officials to alter them.
  • Providing extensive project documentation allows for better communication for replicability, understanding the breadth of design considerations, permissibility, teaching, and explaining the design to potential collaborators and consumers.  
  • Off-grid, fully electric optimized building systems designed for passive survivability.
  • Advanced building envelope design with Blueskin® adhesive continuous vapor barrier.
  • Cork siding is a lightweight, adaptable exterior siding that provides continuous exterior insulation. It also has additional benefits, including carbon sequestration and fire resilience; it fosters sustainable forestry and habitat and is renewable, reusable, and recyclable.
  • Hayward Healthy Home Principles have been developed into a simple, accessible rating system based on extensive research and experience. These principles provide myriad health benefits as well as sustainable design efficiencies such as air-tightness, enhanced indoor air quality, and durability of the structure.
  • The Hayward Fast Floor system streamlines the fabrication, delivery and assembly process of framing elements with pre-cut engineered lumber.

04. Communications & Marketing : Key Concepts - Summary

The Benefits of the Integral Design Process. 

  • The integral design process brings all project stakeholders together at the start of the project - to collaborate on the project's goals. This method promotes learning, skills building, idea generation, and optimization of designs. This integral design process also depends on an inclusive environment, good communication, collaboration, dedication, and patience. The culture at the Rancho Cielo Campus has made this integral design process possible. 
  • At our project launch in the Spring of 2022, the entire design/build team came together in a workshop facilitated by Bill Hayward and building scientist Mark Laliberte to lay out our sustainable and healthy design goals. At this project launch, we committed to collaborate to achieve these goals. With our completed Nexus 01 home, accompanying plans and documentation, website, and Nexus Housing Design and Development Inc. enterprise startup, we show the results and prove our commitment to these goals. The results demonstrate the benefits of the integral design method. 
  • Critical design decisions were made in team meetings where multiple trades and factors were considered. The innovation came about by several team members coming together to share their experiences and ideas. Consistent communication with tools such as weekly meetings with accompanying minutes, task lists, and project management and construction marketing schedules was key to collaboration. Plans, diagrams, documents, video conferencing, and immediate access to vendors, building scientists, and design professionals were all critical to completing this project. 
  • Students played a central part in this process. They learned the tricks of the trade by working alongside professional mentors, watching and helping an ambitious idea manifest itself through their blood, sweat, and tears. They were able to help build and influence the design, and they experienced the amount of work it takes to build a sustainable home.
  • This integral design process is why we chose the name "Nexus." The definition of Nexus is "a connection or series of connections linking things. The central and most important point or place. A connected group or series." We see our project bringing everything together --  our community, our professionals, our skills and experience, our resources, and ultimately, our families, around a common goal: healthy, sustainable housing in a supportive, healthy community setting. 


Our Compelling Marketing Strategy 

  • The Healthy Home concept isn't a hard sell. Once informed, customers quickly catch on and understand the benefits and added value of a healthy home. After all, no one wants to live in an unhealthy home. With the Nexus 01 home, we display a comfortable, inviting, modern example of a healthy home. Visitors, students, potential customers, developers, and building officials can visit the completed home on the Rancho Cielo Campus and see for themselves that a healthy home is achievable.   
  • Design follows performance.  
  • The design process began with a distinct goal to emphasize healthy home methods, as researched and summarized in the Hayward Healthy Home Score methodology after researching and surveying 82,000 residences. In the pursuit of a sustainable, efficient home, the health and well-being of our inhabitants must be included. 

Public acceptance of strategies, themes, systems, components,

  • The Rancho Cielo Construction Academy recently benefited from an immense growth phase with the completion of the Ted Taylor Vocational Training Center, a new state-of-the-art training facility. This development was made possible by a large base of donors and supporters. 
  • This development was advanced by hiring a new CEO, Chris Devers, who brings a wealth of knowledge, enthusiasm, and courage to the school's leadership. When CEO Devers heard of the OCSD competition and met with the designer/educator team assembled by Ecologic Architects, he jumped on the opportunity, swiftly convincing the Rancho Cielo Construction Academy Steering Committee to step up to the challenge. 
  • Retired judge and county supervisor John Phillips, founder of Rancho Cielo, was also quick to support the vision and immediately helped navigate and initiate the regulatory process. 
  • The local planning and building department immediately welcomed the project with open arms. The plans fit well into the already approved and active 30-year long-term development plan for the Rancho Cielo property, including workforce housing as one of the proposed and approved uses. The longer-term masterplan vision of developing approximately 100 units on the Rancho Cielo campus was also well received. Our community and local building officials see this project as a way to meet the ambitious RHNA housing goals.   

For the Community by the Community

  •  Our target market for the Nexus 01 is the students and workforce working and learning at the Rancho Cielo Campus.
  •  We have witnessed the necessity and success of  building and providing workforce housing at Rancho Cielo. Ten years ago, eight residential homes were built on Rancho Cielo property, now providing vital housing for students, migrant farm workers, firefighters, caretakers, and Rancho Cielo staff. 
  • More specifically, we see Nexus 01 providing housing for Rancho Cielo graduates looking to live on the property, help grow the school, mentor younger students, develop added skills in the construction and design industry, develop teaching skills, and serve as role models for future students. In the coming five to ten years, we plan to build additional units and house more alumni mentors to intern and build other homes within the 13-unit Nexus Village plan. In the longer term, we envision developing up to 100 units on the 100 acres at Rancho Cielo, built by the students and alumni-turned-staff to house themselves and, in turn, inspire and train further students. We see this as a sustainable growth model to alleviate the housing crisis and build sustainable “for the community by the community" homes.


Our Success Story Lives in the Aspirations of our Students. 

  • The storyline of the Rancho Cielo Nexus Housing team is a clear pathway out of poverty and crime to a thriving, healthy, sustainable community. For many years, retired Judge Phillips was obligated by his oath to sentence juveniles, yet he was always looking for alternatives. He founded Rancho Cielo to provide these youths an alternative life option instead of jail. Rancho Cielo has immersed these young adults in an environment of scenic beauty, providing them with schooling alongside vocational training. Students at Rancho Cielo are also provided with transportation to the school and the support of case management workers. 
  • With the construction of the new training facility and the hiring of new leadership, Rancho Cielo and its students were ready and determined to take on the unique challenge of building an exemplary modular, sustainable, healthy home. The end result could serve no higher purpose than to provide a home for a graduate and remain on the Rancho Cielo campus as a display teaching reference and serve as the first initiating structure of the co-housing development. This is a vision we can all support and identify with.


Our Track Record of Branding, Public Outreach, and Marketing

  •  We tested the community interest in our Nexus 01 project by inviting the Rancho Cielo community to an open house where folks could see the home up close and under construction and provide the design and construction team with the opportunity to gauge interest. The open house was a big success, with over 80 guests signing into our guest book and showing up to support us. Several articles in local newspapers published the open house event. Our team also prepared banners, brochures, and branded t-shirts. During this time, we finalized our corporate identity business development goals, the website, social media platforms, and mailing lists. 
  • The response was extremely positive, allowing team members to address the audience and tell them firsthand about the project and its challenges. The extensive list of Rancho Cielo Board Members also had a chance to meet the team and the broader community to see the interest in the project and our vision. 


Public Outreach, Branding, and Marketing Materials Speak for Themselves 

  • Our public profile has grown out of an already strong network of professionals supporting the growth and success of the Rancho Cielo Vocational School. Rancho Cielo has built a strong list of supporters, sponsors, and industry mentors for many years.

Appealing to our Target Market

  • The school has a substantial track record of successfully building more conventional site-built structures and low-income portable structures. The Nexus 01 was an added challenge and demanded a new level of support, collaboration, and development of skills and resources. The team of students, staff, and professional mentors has significantly transformed to raise the construction bar at our relatively new two-year-old training facility. 


  • The integral design process is inclusive, educational, and has many other benefits. 

  • A compelling interactive website allowing 3D virtual fly-throughs as well as a selection of services and Nexus Home Series Models of various shapes and sizes. The site also offers custom-designed options for prefabricated modular housing. 

  • Strong branding with the help of a  logo, banners, and brochures. 
  • Healthy Home Methods,  a compelling no-brainer marketing strategy, and value add appealing to all.
  • Leveraging and growing the extensive network of Rancho Cielo supporters and sponsors. 
  • Building on the momentum of our past growth and success. 
  • Building with a cause to help, educate, and train marginalized youths. 
  • Open to inspiring others and replicating the Rancho Cielo vocational training example in other regions. 
  • Our Open House attracted widespread community interest and involvement.
    • It generated donations, volunteers, a larger pool of interest, and great feedback from the community.
    • It gave us an opportunity to practice our storytelling and build anticipation for our community.
    • It gave us the opportunity to honor the team and all the effort going into this project. 
    • It also allowed local media to help publicize our mission and project goals.  
  • Extensive edited video production in collaboration with LC1 Productions,  a local community sponsor and a long-time member of the Rancho Cielo network.  
  • The finished product will speak for itself - the completed Nexus 01 home is inviting and comfortable with all the desired modern conveniences and is sustainable and healthy for its inhabitants, the environment, and the local economy.
  • The compelling story of Rancho Cielo as a successful diversion program has become a model example for law enforcement and the government for judicial reform, helping some of the most vulnerable members of our community. 
  • Our students' commitment, drive, and passion for the project manifested in the completed Nexus 01 home is a success story that will bring lasting change to our community. 

05. Market Potential : Key Concepts - Summary

The Workforce Housing Crisis

  • The need for workforce housing on the Rancho Cielo Campus is clearly evident. The property is owned by Monterey County. This housing can serve Rancho Cielo staff and Students, Monterey County employees, and other local institutions such as Natividad Hospital and Hartnell College. Current workforce housing on Rancho Cielo property is fully booked, providing critical housing needs for female migrant farm workers and firefighters. Our 100-unit housing masterplan for Rancho Cielo will help fill this need and provide job and learning opportunities for the foreseeable future - 20 - 30 years while we develop the Nexus Home Series. 

Introducing Nexus Housing Design and Development Inc.

  • Nexus Housing is a non-profit organization born out of the partnership between Rancho Cielo, Ecologic Architects, Hayward Lumber, Scudder Roofing, and Scudder Solar. Nexus Housing was initiated by the successful application to the OCSD, and we have leveraged our existing wide network of sponsors, professionals and community supporters. Our mission is to facilitate the design, development, building, and occupancy of resilient, sustainable, healthy homes in Monterey County and beyond. 
  • Our website is an interactive marketing and sales platform where consumers can choose from different models and design options, fulfilling a wide range of scenarios and customer preferences. We call this palette of size, material, and configuration options the Nexus Home Series. On the website customers can also fly-through a 3D model of the home.  
  • We are counting on and promoting consumer awareness and the consumer's desire to foster a sustainable community. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the challenges of climate change and the need for sustainable design and construction. They also know the benefits of investing in their local economy and youth. The fast growth and success of Rancho Cielo's programs prove that the community has a desire to come together to promote and sponsor sustainable community and education. 

Our Community Support

  • Our community's eyes are watching us, waiting in anticipation. With the successful completion, delivery, and presentation of our Nexus 01 home, our team and non-profit enterprise will be catapulted onto a national stage. While the local media, community, and industry have expressed much interest in our work, we feel this is the tip of the iceberg. The home's successful completion will prove we have the skills, expertise, plan, workforce, and resources to manifest this vision. 

The Nexus Co-Housing EcoVillage

  • The Nexus Village, initially projected to be a cluster of 13 units with shared facilities and resources, takes our sustainable healthy prototype home and creates a sustainable healthy community around it. “It takes a village” is a mantra we have taken to heart in our planning process. This village, with co-housing strategies, has diverse unit sizes, incorporating landscape and natural resources, renewable energy, and communal areas for community connection. This village plan will appeal to private and public developers as an example of a larger scale sustainable healthy housing development. It has been submitted to the Monterey County Planning Department. The design team is fulfilling permit application requirements, such as plans, letters for water supply and waste treatment, biological reports, archaeological reports, stormwater management, etc. A new solar PV system is also being built to cover the added power demands of the village. This is a masterplan in motion.  

The Healthy Home Trend  

  • The advanced healthy home methods and products and the advanced sustainable design methods and technology will influence the local building industry and present new business opportunities. 
    • For example, the ERV fresh-filtered air ventilation system is a relatively new appliance - needed for healthy indoor air quality with the development of enhanced air-tightness requirements. Many consumers and HVAC installers need to be made aware of its benefits.
    • Another good example is the Solar Thermal Canopy. Potential savings for a residential-scale development are significant when we bypass the need to create electricity to heat the water or bypass the equipment costs and energy loss in this process. These are just two examples of several methods and technologies we have integrated that will provide professional opportunities in the future. 


Seeing is Believing

  • The completed home will serve as a showcase on the Rancho Cielo property. Visitors, potential consumers, students, and local professionals can tour and see the home and learn from its sustainable, healthy design and construction methods. Building officials will also be able to study and learn from the advanced methods used to help evolve code. For example, most building officials and mechanical engineers are unfamiliar with using ¼” piping for domestic water supply and its benefits. The Nexus 01 home will prove it is possible and beneficial.   
  • Making pilot projects accessible to target audiences is a significant step toward better adoption. When you communicate the benefits of high-performance, the building speaks for itself with much more credibility when people are inside. Being in a high-performance home is akin to going into the mountains, looking up at the night sky, and being amazed at the number and beauty of the stars. The comfort, quiet, and ambiance of a high-performing building is difficult to describe in words. 

Nexus Housing Design and Development Business Planning

  • We are a non-profit organization committed to facilitating the design, development, building, and occupancy of resilient, sustainable, healthy homes in Monterey County and beyond.
  • High standards for the envelope will enhance resilience, sustainability, and healthy indoor air quality and deliver both mitigation (lower carbon and other GHGs) of and adaptation to (health and safety of occupants) the impacts of climate change.
  • Our goal is to continually pull together a community of like-minded builders and educators committed to vocational training and sustainable building and commit to incorporating all options for affordable, sustainable housing as we continue to explore revenue stream opportunities that become available. 
    • We will take our high-performance prototype home to a win at the OCSD23, demonstrating the latest techniques in building design, technology, and construction for our vocational students. Exposing them to the most forward-looking, sustainable design ideas and technologies available will prepare them to be the future leaders of building and construction.
    • Rancho Cielo Development - our work is just getting started.
    • Rancho Cielo Nexus Eco Village Masterplan Development
    • Nexus 02-03 design development & permitting.
    • Project management for EcoVillage building.
    • Technical consultation and participation in the Construction Advisory Board.
    • Marketing/fundraising/social media for Nexus EcoVillage.
  • Seek additional funding with grants, sponsorships, and sales revenue for: 
    • Teaching
    • Lectures
    • Researching/publishing articles
    • Advocating/telling the story of our demonstration project
  • Developing pre-approved ADU designs (City of Marina RFP) based on our Nexus principals.
  • Working with local government agencies to help streamline the process of permitting ADUs and educating the general public about the advantages of creating more housing and density in their communities. 
  • Development of additional EcoVillages on county land identified by Monterey County and/or with private developers.
  • Other organizations interested in our work: Veterans Associations, Lightfighter Village Project & State Parks Housing (train staff on building).
  • Developing Nexus 01 as a market-rate ADU to be fabricated by other distributors.

Giving Students Vocational Training Gives Them Hope and a Future.

As leaders, we believe in sustainable building design and want to highlight what this type of house looks and feels like. The showcase home has the potential to encourage others to consider designing and building more sustainable and future-looking homes. Our students don’t typically have access to high-quality housing stock. With Nexus 01, we wanted them to have the first-hand experience of being part of the sustainable building process from day one through completion -- to see, feel, smell, and hear the difference when it comes to a healthy, resilient, energy-efficient, water-efficient home.

The OCSD Platform Measurable Outcomes  

  • Successful project delivery and presentation at the OCSD 23 will catapult us into a new developing industry: 
    • Tell our story and raise awareness.
    • Show the world our successful program (it works).
    • Share our students' success story -- their own success and that of the team, build, and curriculum for Nexus 01.
  • This in turn will have a knock on effect to expand our program with:
    • More students.
    • More training levels.
    • Paid apprenticeship opportunities for our alumni.
    • Expansion of training opportunities and new specialties.
    • Sustained funding.
  • Build a community workforce, future leaders, and experts in the building industry.
  • Build quality housing for our community. 

Innovation happens when motivated people come together to collaborate. Students have worked alongside architects, designers, engineers, builders, roofers, vendors, electricians, plumbers, planners, administrators, and sponsors. The community came together to provide our students with training, teaching tools, and mentorship. We estimate about 300 people have been involved in the project at this point. 

Multi-Story Modular Construction

  • With the design and construction of the two-story structure Nexus 01, we open the door to multi-story modular construction. 
    • Acknowledging  the 18’ height limit of the OCSD rules,  we were determined to make the most use of the space available. 
    • The limits of transportable heights and widths were also a guideline that we aimed to maximize the dimensions of our shippable modules. 
  • Notwithstanding these limitations, we have designed and built a full-scale two-story home that can compete with anything on the market today, including traditional higher-end site-built homes. 
  • With these technical details and experience under our belts, our track record will open future floodgates to replications, variations, and a larger, even better future for modular design/build project commissions.

Healthy is Here to Stay.

  • Beyond presenting a sustainable, energy-efficient home, another of our goals was to advance the concept of a healthy home. With the guidance of one of our mentors, Bill Hayward, we implemented his Hayward Healthy Home principles. For example, our Zehnder fresh air system circulates fresh air through the house 24/7. The semi-enclosed living space offers a sheltered yet outdoor area, a distinct selling point in a post-COVID world. Great care was taken to use only healthy building materials, and transformable/convertible spaces like the loft and the work/dining areas allow multi-use functionality in one space. 
  • Our custom-built solar thermal system goes beyond Title 24 energy code.   
  • Prefab modular home construction allows us to serve a wide region with the flexibility to reduce travel time for our workforce to the housing factory located in an underserved area. The homes can then be delivered anywhere in the region, including more affluent neighborhoods where construction costs are usually significantly higher.  
  • Our Nexus 01 project has initiated a longer-term business planning objective. We have formed a non-profit entity, Nexus Housing Design and Development, and created a website, . With this platform and entity, we are poised to market and sell not only the Nexus 01 home and its reproductions but several other modular homes we call the Nexus Home Series. The series includes different-sized modular homes from 200 to 1600 sf and additional iterations of these plans. These iterations serve as options for our customers, such as roof profiles (shed roof, pitched roof, split shed roof), exterior siding (cork, cement fiber, wood), and interior materials and colors. 
  • Our primary and distinguishing selling point is the possibility of a full-sized home delivered on a predictable budget and timeline. With custom site-built homes, consumers are often shocked by cost increases and discouraged by time delays. Nexus Housing and the Rancho Cielo Team can offer customers more predictable processes and products. 
  • The Nexus 01 home, enterprise, and our strengthened community network that made it happen is a huge milestone for us that opens the path to a long, thriving future of innovation, collaboration, and education.