Meet Jim Soules, owner of Soules Company and an innovator in developing sustainable infill communities. By developing smaller green homes in walkable locations, he offers housing that is smart for the owners and smart for the planet. His current development, in historic Petaluma, includes the original historic farmhouse, a modern architect-designed home for Jim and his wife Milli that references the iconic water towers that dot the Sonoma County landscape, and a series of smaller homes that are designed for people who value a close-in location and low energy bills.
By choosing Enphase with consumption monitoring, Jim, along with his installer Keith Kruetzfeldt of REPOWER by Solar Universe, had the future in mind. The Enphase microinverters already comply with NEC 2014 and 2017 rapid shutdown requirements, so as the remaining homes in the development are completed, they will comply with the code. And by installing an AC Combiner box with Envoy-S Metered and consumption CTs, the Soules are able to not only monitor their every usage, but also size and add an Enphase Storage System should they ever want to in the future.
Jim’s development doesn’t look at solar and energy management as an add on, but as part of an integrated approach to green building. His homes are designed with local and sustainable materials such as recycled steel and concrete, energy efficient features such as LED lights and Energy Star appliances, and passive solar design elements, such as orienting the home to maximize solar gain on winter mornings and minimize it on summer afternoons.
The Soules’ home, the first in the development and nicknamed Miji House for Milli and Jim’s first names, is as much a piece of art as a piece of green design. Jim’s creative sourcing of materials paired with Milli’s eye for design resulted in dramatic creative touches, including a jigsawed bedroom ceiling made of reclaimed wood scraps hand stained in a rainbow of colors, a sliding steel door featuring a large metal plate left over by a tool manufacturer that cut scythe blades from it, and steel walls that—with magnets, their lifetime of collected art, and their grandchildren’s paintings—becomes an ever-changing and very personal gallery. And because their focus was on designing for their own needs as it’s their retirement home, they could customize with features that wouldn’t be typical in a home designed for resale, such as higher-than-typical kitchen counters cast in place in aubergine concrete.
While building with materials that are local or sustainable was important, managing the ongoing energy use was even more critical. Smart solar from Enphase, with intelligent monitoring, was a critical part of reaching this goal of living lightly on the land, close in to town.