Stucco and the Santa Fe Style:

A Comprehensive Guide


Building a custom home in Santa Fe? Chances are, you’ll be considering stucco finishes for the exterior of your home. If you’re new to the desert Southwest, stucco might be a first-time experience for you, despite having seen it on various commercial buildings elsewhere.

The Prevalence of Stucco in Santa Fe

In Santa Fe, stucco is more than just common—it’s the norm. Virtually every residence in the city and county features stucco as its primary exterior finish.

What is Stucco?

Stucco is a cementitious exterior cladding, generally applied manually using trowels. The application process usually involves 2-3 coats to achieve the desired texture, often a sponged finish for a sandy look.

Technical Aspects of Stucco

Not Structural or Weatherproof

Contrary to some beliefs, stucco is solely an aesthetic cladding; it neither provides structural integrity nor acts as a weatherproof barrier. These roles are fulfilled by other systems integrated into the wall.

Addressing Cracks

Cracks in stucco shouldn’t be a cause for alarm as long as your wall system is properly constructed with the necessary structural and weatherproofing elements.

Warranty and Maintenance

  • Limited lifespan with differing warranty periods depending on the manufacturer.
  • Subject to routine maintenance and eventual replacement.
  • Recommended biennial inspection by a stucco contractor, or sooner if issues arise.

Aesthetic Opportunities

Infinite Color Options

Stucco offers a multitude of color choices, particularly in synthetic systems. Custom color matching is also available, similar to paint.

Traditional vs Synthetic

While traditional cement-only stuccos offer fewer color options, synthetic elastomeric stucco finishes have largely supplanted them for their durability, longevity, and color variety.

Making the Right Color Choice

Guidelines and Restrictions

  • Check architectural guidelines if building in a Home Owners Association area.
  • Be aware of city or county zoning restrictions on color.

Factors to Consider

  • Complementing exterior windows and doors.
  • Compatibility with other exterior elements like wood or steel.
  • Coordination with external flooring and lighting fixtures.

Final Thoughts

Working closely with your architect and builder will enable you to design a cohesive and stunning exterior color palette, with stucco acting as the unifying element.

For further insights into custom home design, exteriors, or stucco, feel free to reach out. We look forward to hearing from you.

How Much Does it Cost to Build in Santa Fe, NM?

So, how much does it cost to build in Santa Fe?

Well, that is the million-dollar question.  Actually, it’s more like a 2-3 million dollar question for most people looking to build a custom home in Santa Fe.  In fact, I get several emails a week asking, “How much does it cost to build in Santa Fe?” And it’s always a nuanced answer, because there are so many variables associated with determining that price point. 

The Most Common Factors

These include among other things, the existing soils and topography of your chosen building lot, the proximity the building site has to existing utilities, the length of the drive from existing roads to the building site and of course, the design characteristics of your one-of-a-kind hand-crafted custom dream home.  These variables have been constant in their influence over the cost to build forever.  And once we are able to assess your building site, we can often make some predictions about how much these factors may influence the final construction cost.

The Time Factor

But there is another factor which historically wasn’t as influential as it is now, and that is the factor of time.  Einstein realized that time was relative, and Newton was missing the point when he said time was constant.  And although Newtonian physics seems the order of the day when it comes to something as material as building a custom home from scratch, Einsteinian relativity may now be worth considering.  Time and construction costs are in fact relative, and time plays a much greater role in the final construction costs than ever before.  What do I mean, you may ask?

The Data

We recently did a thorough analysis of our custom home construction costs dating back over the last 15 years.  The graph above shows our actual cost data for completed custom home construction projects depicted by the solid orange line.  The dashed gray line represents an average trend and incorporates a projection beyond 2023 based on our expectations.  What the data shows is that, yes, construction costs have increased in the last decade.  I think we all knew that.  But more interesting was the rate of increase over time. 

Throughout the 2010’s construction costs were somewhat stable with a relatively predictable 5%-10% per year increase. And this ramped up from 2015-2019.  Average costs per square foot slowly increased from roughly $200 per square foot in 2010 to just under $500 per square foot over the course of that decade.  This relatively stable rate of cost increase made it pretty easy to predict the general cost per square foot of a custom home from year to year. Then COVID hit!

An Accelerating Trend

What we saw was a massive disruption to the supply chain and labor market at the same time.  Yes, we all have heard about inflation. It’s been in the headlines for years, but what most people don’t consider is that inflation affects different parts of the economy in different ways, and at different rates. And it also affects different local markets in non-homogeneous ways.

For custom home construction in Santa Fe, the previously predictable annual cost increase quickly changed.  And we began seeing increases across all sectors of the construction market, concrete, steel, lumber, and labor.  This amounted to annual cost increases of greater than 20% between 2020-2023. For this reason, we have seen the cost of custom home construction rapidly move from +/- $500 per square foot in 2020 to well over $700 per square foot in just a few years.  And in some instances, we are seeing prices above $900/sf for highly complicated or specialized home designs on challenging lots.

Our Design-Build Approach

At Palo Santo Designs, we recognize our customers rely on us to be as accurate as possible in our pre-design budget forecasting.  It is one of the main benefits of our Design-Build approach.  The integration of real-time construction cost knowledge within our integrated architecture team allows Palo Santo Designs to be very efficient in the value engineering of custom homes. 

Until recently, our predictive models were somewhat static, assuming the cost of construction at the time design commences would be +/- within 5%-10% of what they would be a year later when groundbreaking actually happens.  Now our Updated Pre-Design Budget Exercise has built into it a time factor.  That is, what we can assume for construction costs at the time design begins is factored up according to when you anticipate breaking ground.  That way, we can take into account the accelerated cost trend currently being seen in the market. This allows us to better assist our clients in being financially prepared for the likely construction costs to come.  Also, our integrated Design-Build approach can also reduce the amount of time to commencement of construction. This further optimizes your dollars by staying ahead of growing costs as much as possible.

Optimizing Value

It is also important to understand that contractors have very limited control over the costs of construction.  That may sound counter-intuitive, but general contractors are the orchestral conductors of the varied resources needed to build custom homes.  Labor, lumber, windows, or concrete are all externally priced by market forces outside of the contractor’s influence.   Our team of architects and builders are focused on providing our clients with the most realistic cost modelling possible. We do this by working closely with our trade partners and vendors to optimize value.  And whether you are looking to build at the $1.5 million or the $15 million dollar price point, we will always take great effort to deliver as much bang for your buck as possible.

Find Out More

Email me [email protected] to receive a free consultation about your project and a copy of our Updated Pre-Design Budget Exercise. We can guide you through the steps to realize your dream. Your one-of-a-kind hand crafted custom home in Santa Fe with Palo Santo Designs.  

2020 Haciendas: Parade of Homes – Featuring Our Modern Farmhouse

We’re thrilled to be included in another Haciendas Parade of Homes here in Santa Fe. This year, our recently completed Modern Farmhouse is featured, which is incredible for our team and also dear to us because it’s the home of our principals Mark and Leslie Giorgetti.

“Carefully designed by the in-house architecture and design team at Palo Santo Designs, this modern farmhouse exemplifies the elegance and simplicity of dean-lined minimalism while incorporating many of the best aspects of the traditional pitched-roof Northern New Mexico compound. It simultaneously communicates the classical architecture of sacred geometry and the proportion of the golden mean, while showcasing the best craftsmanship Santa Fe has to offer.”

We are among 18 other homes and builders in this virtual Parade of Homes with remarkable craftsmanship all around. We invite you to discover all of the homes through the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association website and take in the entire parade virtually this year due to Covid-19.

We also encourage you to vote in the People’s Choice contest, which is running on social media – Facebook and Instagram.

Santa Fe Modern Farmhouse

Carefully designed by the in-house architecture and design team at Palo Santo Designs, this modern farmhouse exemplifies the elegance and simplicity of ‘clean lines’ minimalism, while incorporating many of the best aspects of the traditional pitched roof northern New Mexico compound.   It simultaneously communicates the classical architecture of sacred geometry and the proportion of the golden mean.

A renaissance home.  It not only utilizes nature’s classical proportions within its layout and elevations, it also showcases the best craftsmanship Santa Fe has to offer with hard troweled plaster walls, and artisanal applications of stone, tile, steel, and wood throughout.  Designed and occupied by Palo Santo Designs’ Principals, Mark & Leslie Giorgetti with their two young children, the house exemplifies the fusion of living functionality for a family, high architectural design and exceptional craftsmanship.

The panoramic views of the Jemez, Sangre, Ortiz, and Sandia ranges offer every room an exciting vignette of our dramatic mountain skyscape.  The cathedral-like great room, with exposed timber trusses, accommodates kitchen, dining and living in an open floor plan, aligned to the central fireplace hearth.  The room opens out to both the East and West with sweeping portals that soak the occupants and guests with breathtaking views.  Carefully planned spaces take every view opportunity, room by room, to allow the outdoor and indoor to fuse into a seamless display of beauty.

The manor-like facades are embraced by courtyard walls that shelter gardens and orchards, while providing privacy for the detached guesthouse.  The outer landscaped areas provide sanctuary for grapevines, native grass meadows, wildflowers, and the ubiquitous chicken coop and beehive.  Food production in the form of fruits, eggs, vegetables, honey, and herbs is a central function of the landscaping while also providing shade and a cool microclimate around the home for comfort and relaxation within the aesthetic design.  The gardens and trees are carefully watered with recycled greywater and rainwater catchment.

The home takes sustainability to the highest level with LEED Platinum certification pending, utilizing solar photovoltaics, energy efficiency, and rainwater reuse for both irrigation and toilet flushing.    With its super-insulated shell, passive solar design, LED lighting, in-floor radiant heat, and pumice-crete walls, this is not your typical Santa Fe luxury home.  This one of a kind work of art has combined reverence for nature, architecture and craftmanship into a masterpiece, which will provide its soul-enriching lifestyle benefits for generations to come.

 This newly completed Santa Fe Modern Farmhouse to be featured in the 2020 Haciendas, A Parade of Homes.  Learn more here. or contact us here.

Best sustainable homes in Santa Fe

The best sustainable homes are in Santa Fe, New Mexico!

Hear Mark Giorgetti discuss the best techniques, materials and methods for the design and construction of sustainable homes in Santa Fe New Mexico, and the world.   On KTRC Talk 1260 and radio podcast “Build Together” with Miles Conway of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders’ Association

Click Here to Listen

Miles Conway introduces Mark Giorgetti, Principal and Founder of Palo Santo Designs.  Palo Santo Designs is a construction and architecture firm based in Santa Fe New Mexico for the last 20 years, specializing in the design-build approach to contemporary high end custom homes that incorporate numerous sustainability features.  Mark discusses how he got his start by working in the solar industry and studying environmental science.  And his discoveries that buildings offer a uniquely attainable way to achieve important environmental improvements by reducing energy consumption, water consumption, waste.   When designed and built right, sustainable homes provide humans with protection from increasing environmental hazards related to climate, while also offering us all an opportunity for peace, joy and recuperation from the stresses of modern life.  Architecture plays such a critical role in the well being of the human race and the construction methods we use also play a critical role in the greater environmental health of our regions and our globe.

Mark also discusses his experiences traveling in other parts of the world and his observations regarding how people dwell in less advantaged places.  He goes on to describe how, when he worked for the United Nations on a global research project he was able to identify an important nexus between indigenous natural building methods like adobe and other social and environmental benefits.  Indigenous building materials and methods are often cost effective, can provide resilience from extreme weather events such as extreme heat, and can also serve to mitigate the causes of global climate change by reducing the embodied energy in the building materials we use and improving energy efficiency.

Palo Santo Designs has focused on how to bring these alternative building systems into the mainstream by producing architecturally beautiful modern homes with all the amenities expected by high end consumers that also utilize sustainable, low embodied energy materials that provide energy efficiency, water efficiency, comfort and afford us all some grace in an otherwise complicated world.

For more information contact us here! 

The Best Contemporary Home Builder in New Mexico

Award winning design-build firm Palo Santo Designs is proud to announce it has been named one of the Best Contemporary Home Builders in the US, taking the New Mexico slot!  We appreciate all the support in our efforts to create state of the art modern and sustainable homes in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and look forward to our next round of contemporary homes.  Our skilled team of licensed and experienced architects and builders excel at the design and construction of high end contemporary custom homes.   Palo Santo Homes are both stunningly beautiful and highly sustainable providing state of the art comforts for solar power, water efficiency, energy efficiency and a lifestyle in tune with the natural beauty so abundant in the mountains of northern New Mexico.

Our designs are defined by clean lines, light, space and an understated elegance which is central to contemporary home design today.

Our approach to design and construction of the best contemporary homes in New Mexico is rooted in a few simple ideals.  1.  We listen to our clients and guide them to the outcomes they want and deserve. Most of our projects have award winning results, and we never cut corners on the best practices, fit or finish. 2. We apply our decades of expertise in construction and architecture to validate costs in real time so that our customers know what to expect in terms of the financial implications of their choices, this keeps everyone happy and leads to successful outcomes.  3.  We communicate.  We always keep our customers up to speed on the ins and outs of the project, when the unexpected arises we address it head on with clarity, honesty and expert advisement.

Our passions reside in the creation of beautiful architectural spaces which are clean, open, inviting and restful.  We thrive on the collaboration in artistic expression with our customers in the creation of one of a kind custom homes and apply our knowledge and expertise to make the resulting home, durable, functional, efficient and elegant.

Thank you to Home Builder Digest for the recognition and support in naming us the Best Contemporary Home Builder in New Mexico!

How Modern Architecture is Mixing with the Traditional Architecture in Santa Fe

Modern architecture refers to an overarching movement and design that emerged in the Western world at the turn of the 20th century. 

This architectural style was popular for universities, government buildings, and residential homes. 

Modern architecture brought about:

  • Clean lines 
  • Plenty of glass for natural light 
  • Broad roof overhangs 
  • Well-defined, rectangular forms
  • Modern materials and systems, such as steel, exposed concrete, column-free spaces, and radiant floor heating

As you may infer, modern architecture is quite the opposite of the traditional adobe Santa Fe style. Since adobe style is meant to mimic the land and environment around it, the style contains more earth tones and rounded features versus the more angular approach of modern architecture. 

A Mix of Architecture Begins

Santa Fe stayed true to its traditional theme well into the 21st century. The city has long been a tourist destination due to its unique architectural style: rounded walls, muted colors, small windows.

Strict building codes in Santa Fe ensures that this aesthetic is maintained throughout the city’s central district. But many modern home buyers prefer a different approach to Santa Fe’s traditional architecture. 

Now, the city’s less regulated areas have experienced a new wave of modern homes, with steel and glass materials dotting Santa Fe’s landscape, and homes with angles versus a rounded finish. 

Builders and architects in Santa Fe believe that the shift towards more modern styled buildings coincides with the increasing admiration for contemporary art in the city.

Modern art galleries have been set up in notable areas like the Railyard district, just outside of the city’s heavily regulated central districts. This has given contemporary artists the platform they need to put their creativity to good use.

The Historic District Review Board in Santa Fe is responsible for regulating the construction of new buildings, exterior alterations to existing buildings, and the demolition of buildings. This jurisdiction covers Santa Fe’s five historic districts, which makes up 20% of the city. In these districts, building codes are strictly applied. For instance, windows must be a maximum of 30 inches diagonal.

Tradition Meets Modernism in Santa Fe

While many potential homeowners are attracted to Santa Fe for its unique landscape, they want homes that reflect a more contemporary aesthetic: 

  • Bright spaces with plenty of natural light
  • High-efficiency features
  • Low environmental impact

Palo Santo Design LLC – an award-winning general contractor and architecture/design firm – is committed to meeting this need. Our goal is to provide custom homes, renovations and commercial spaces that meet the highest standard of craftsmanship, high efficiency, with personalized project management tailored to the unique needs of each client.

We understand the dramatic shift in demands in Santa Fe, with a steadily increasing demand for contemporary buildings and energy efficient features, which bring about more modern touches.  

However, we also realize that today’s prospective homeowners in Santa Fe desire homes that integrate traditional features such as curbless shower stalls and wider doorways into contemporary styled buildings. This is why our “soft contemporary” custom homes are designed to have a traditional adobe, yet modern feel.

Exotic woods, glasses, metal and glints of stone contribute to the contemporary feel in Santa Fe even when they are styled in plastered interior walls and a coated exterior. 

Santa Fe’s architecture continues to stand out and attract tourists from different parts of the world. As a result, our approach at Palo Santo Design LLC focuses on ensuring the right mix of tradition and modernism based on what our clients want. 

Yes, we are able to meet the city’s strict building codes as well as provide homes that are energy efficient and modern for our clients.


Passive Solar Design: Making the Most of Nature’s Energy

Passive solar design is foundational to the way we approach home building. In a city like Santa Fe, passive solar design can have a massive impact on the efficiency and sustainability of your home.

How does Palo Santo Designs incorporate passive solar design into its homes? Keep reading to find out more about how we work.

What is Passive Solar Design?

Passive solar design involves creating homes and home features that take advantage of the sun’s energy. This involves understanding the orientation, layout of window glazing and use of overhangs to maximize the heating potential of the sun’s warming rays in the home during winter, while simultaneously maximizing shading of those same rays during the summer months to avoid unwanted heating.  Once the basic accounting of the solar angles of the sun in winter vs. summer and the correct sizing and shading of window glass is harnessed, then the importance of creating a super insulated building envelope which includes thermal mass elements within the home yields paybacks

The result:  Homes build according to basic passive solar design principles will have minimal heating and cooling costs as compared to homes which are designed without any thought as to solar heat gain.  And, properly designed and build passive solar homes will also maximize the comfort of those dwelling in the home, because the temperature extremes of heat and cold outside the home are insulated away from the interior, reducing temperature fluctuations.

Passive solar design allows you to reduce heating and cooling loads in the most cost-effective way, because passive solar design typically adds little or nothing to the cost of constructing a home.

Key Features in Passive Solar Design

When building homes with energy efficiency in mind, you need to take a few things into account, including all of the following:

-Site Selection: New passive solar home construction projects will require a portion of the south side of the house to have an unobstructed view of the sun. This can be harder than you think: mature trees and other buildings nearby could block your south-facing exposure, which could compromise the efficiency of your passive solar home. Great passive solar design starts with intelligent site selection.

-High-Performance Building Envelope:  The thermal envelope can also be thought of as the “shell: of the home.  The materials and methods which go into creating the exterior walls, roof and opening in the outside of the building.  At Palo Santo Designs we have learned through 15 years of experience that the most cost effective way to achieve a high-performance building envelope in Northern New Mexico’s climate is with the use of 2×6 or 2×8 stud wall construction, with 2”-3” of insulating foam placed around, under and over the entire building. All wall and ceiling cavities are then packed with blown-in insulation.  Additionally, we air seal all exterior surfaces and penetrations to assure that drafts are minimized.  And finally, we use only ENERGY STAR rated windows and doors.  These features, when properly combined and installed will create a super energy efficient and high performing building envelope which serves as the foundation for comfort, energy efficiency and very effective passive solar design, without busting the budget.

-Properly-Designed Windows: Windows and glass doors should be designed in such a way as to not over expose the home to solar gain.  A qualified passive solar designer will be able to make the window sizing calculations that best suit the size and layout of your new passive solar home. Additionally, exposed south facing glass needs to be provided with shading during the summer months.  Roof overhangs and other architectural projections can be designed with the summer sun angle of the house location in mind to maximize solar gain in winter and minimize solar gain in summer. In the early days of passive solar design, many examples tended toward over doing the size of glass facing south, and little attention was paid to the importance of overhangs, leading to an overheating situation, especially in the summer months.  This is not good passive solar design.

-Thermal Mass: One of the key parts of passive solar design involves taking thermal mass into account – like concrete, brick, stone, and tile; heavy building materials that easily absorb and re-radiate heat.  These thermal mass components act as heat sinks in the winter months storing the solar gain radiated into the home and also as a “cool” sinks in the summer months when little or no solar gain enters the home.  During the summer shading conditions provided by properly designed windows and overhangs, thermal mass will absorb latent heat from the air, thus keeping the ambient air temperature cool relative to a space without thermal mass, reducing the need for mechanical cooling.  When designing a home, one of the key goals is ensuring that thermal mass materials are sufficiently sized to have an appreciable impact on the ambient temperature.  Although it is not absolutely necessary to moderate temperatures, thermal mass with an unobstructed view of sunlight is the most effective.

Passive Solar Design in Santa Fe Available Through Palo Santo Designs

Homes with passive solar design are vastly more efficient. It minimizes your environmental impact – and your utility bills. Talk to Palo Santo Designs today and start planning your dream home with passive solar design systems.

Palo Santo Designs on Parade

With the 2016 Olympic Games still in full swing, it’s worth remembering the idea that athletes compete at their best when they’re performing in an arena that includes the most skilled opponents. At Palo Santo Designs, we are proud to be among a community that represents some of the nation’s most talented architects, designers and home builders.

This undoubtedly has helped keep our own “game” at its best. In this year’s 24th annual Haciendas…A Parade of Homes, organized by the Santa Fe Area Homebuilders’ Association, Palo Santo Designs has enjoyed the great privilege of showcasing not one but two of our homes — and we are thrilled that the effort we invested in them has garnered recognition with several awards.

Our home at 9 Via San Martin, in the Tano Road area, earned the coveted award for Best Craftsmanship. This 2,900 plus-square-foot Northern New Mexico-style luxury hacienda, with pitched roof and exposed beams, is made up of three separate structures interconnected by flagstone and moss rock hardscaped outdoor spaces that capitalize on the beautiful natural surroundings and mountain views. 

Inside, various floor finishes inside include black walnut and polished concrete, providing an aesthetic contrast to the stone fireplace and countertops and custom cherry cabinetry.  Furthermore, the hand troweled diamond finish plaster is exemplary of Northern New Mexico traditional craftsmanship. Maximizing its overall efficiency and reducing its ecological footprint, the home is super-insulated and features a rainwater-harvesting irrigation system.

Our home at 1841 Cristobal Lane, in Santa Fe’s Museum Hill Estates neighborhood, scored top honors in three categories, with awards for Best Outdoor Living Space, Best Water Efficiency, and Best Energy Efficiency.

This 2,077 square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath Pueblo Revival-style home features contemporary accents and ample outdoor living areas that likewise capitalize on the magnificent mountain views. The inviting landscape design was a collaboration with Serquis+Associates Landscape Architecture, and exemplifies water conscious xeriscaping including native species and permeable hardscaping utilizing native stone and adobe. 

The home’s energy is provided by its roof-mounted photovoltaic system that generates 4.5 kilowatts of electricity, the home can produce nearly as much of its own energy as it consumes from the grid, and features an electric car charger for true solar powered driving. 

As for its water conservation features, the home is topped with a roof designed to capture and utilize all rainfall for the outdoor landscape irrigation as well as re-use within the home for toilet flushing, furthermore, the landscape is also nourished by a graywater system that reclaims wastewater from showers, laundry and bathroom sinks.

We encourage anyone interested in seeing these two luxurious custom homes as well as the many other fine homes on the Parade lineup to do so during this forthcoming weekend (August 19 – 21), which marks the second and last chance to check them out. Tickets can be purchased online through the Lensic or at each house during the event itself. The homes can also be seen for free during Friday’s Twilight Tour from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

What is the LEED Program for Home Building?

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is creating a whole new generation of homes across America. Discover how LEED is inspiring homebuilders – and benefiting homeowners – across Santa Fe, New Mexico.

What is LEED?

The LEED program is a third-party verification system for green homes. When a building is LEED-certified, it means the building has met a strict set of environmentally-friendly standards.

Meanwhile, environmentally-conscious homeowners can shop among houses based on their LEED rating levels.

The goal is to encourage our world to grow in a more sustainable way. There are four levels of LEED certification, including Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

When a building is LEED-certified, it means it uses resources more efficiently than other similarly-sized buildings. It uses less water and energy, for example, and produces less greenhouse gas. LEED-certified buildings also save money.

One of the best things about LEED is that it can be applied to all different types of projects – including everything from downtown hotels to homes in residential neighborhoods.

Palo Santo Creates LEED-Certified Homes in Santa Fe

Palo Santo Designs is a design-build firm based here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We’re proud to be among a few homebuilders devoted to sustainable residential development in our region.

We are proud to say that many of our Santa Fe home projects have passed the rigorous scrutiny of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program.

That means our homes are not only aesthetically beautiful, but they also have minimum impact on the environment. They use less energy and water, for example, while still being stylistically stunning.

How Do We Build LEED Homes in Santa Fe?

Palo Santo Designs has recently finished a home in Santa Fe’s Museum Hill neighborhood. The 2,100 square foot, three bedroom, two bath Pueblo Revival-style home is outfitted with contemporary accents, extensive outdoor space, and beautiful views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

It’s also pending LEED certification at the Platinum level, which is the highest level of certification available. Here are a few of the this environmentally-friendly home’s key sustainability achievements.

Solar Panels and Home Orientation

The home is nestled onto a single-acre lot. While creating the home, our designers had to carefully consider the orientation in order to maximize views as well as solar gain.

The roof of the home features a photovoltaic system capable of generating 4.5 kilowatts of electricity, which covers virtually all of the electrical needs for the home. Other electric features in the home include an electric vehicle charging station, a high efficiency air-to-water heat pump for in-floor heating and cooling, and efficient LED lighting throughout the home.

Water Conservation and Indoor Reuse of Rainwater

Water conservation also played a crucial role in gaining LEED certification. The home’s roof is specially designed not just for solar panels, but also to maximize rainfall capture. This rainwater is used for outdoor landscape irrigation as well as to flush indoor toilets. Re-using collected rainwater indoors is a cutting edge innovation in Santa Fe.

Meanwhile, gray water beds reclaim wastewater from showers, laundry, and bathroom sinks to ensure the landscaping always looks stunning without using excessive water.

Insulation, Adobe Walls, and Air Ventilation

One final piece of the puzzle is insulation. To create an environmentally-efficient home, Palo Santo Designs had to create a very well-insulated home outfitted with R-30 walls and R-50 ceilings.

Adobe walls within the home provide thermal mass, which then captures and retains heat energy from passive solar-oriented clerestory windows.

Of course, homes with good insulation can often suffer ventilation problems. That’s why we incorporated an energy recovery ventilation system that facilitates the proper exchange of fresh air into the home via an air-to-air heat exchanger.

Fresh air is brought into the home, passed through a filter to remove contaminants like dust and pollen, and then refreshes the home. This is especially valuable during allergy season or during the winter and wildfire months when the home is closed off to the outdoor air.

LEED Platinum-Certified Homes Now Available in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Ultimately, the home mentioned above will achieve LEED Platinum-certification, which is the highest level of certification available through the program.  This is one of many successful LEED certified projects by Palo Santo Designs. 

We have another home pending LEED certification available for sale:

9 Things to Know About Settling in Santa Fe

Is Santa Fe a Good Place to Live?

Santa Fe is a desirable location to settle because of the rich culture, great population size of around 83,000, jaw-dropping scenery around the city, and delicious cuisine throughout the area.

There’s a reason they call us “The City Different”: life’s a little different here. 

Whatever it is that makes Santa Fe different, we’re truly living in the gem of the desert. Here are 9 things to know about moving to Santa Fe:

1) The Altitude of Santa Fe

Santa Fe sits at an elevation of 7,198 feet, making it the third highest city in America. Only Leadville, Colorado and Mammoth Lakes, California have higher elevations than Santa Fe (not counting towns with fewer than 1,000 people) – and both those cities have significantly lower populations than Santa Fe.

To put that altitude in perspective, the “Mile High City” of Denver sits at just 5280 feet – and residents of that city love to complain about altitude sickness.

In any case, the altitude of Santa Fe means the air will be thinner and drier. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][The altitude also means cooler temperatures.  Although we are firmly situated in the arid southwest, The climate in Santa Fe is nothing like that of Phoenix or Las Vegas. Average temperatures in the summer months are in the mid-80’s with temperatures rarely getting above the mid 90’s.  Cool dry air in the evenings means summer time lows in the high 50 to mid 60’s]  If you’re used to living at sea level, then you may need a few days to adjust. However, don’t get too worried about the altitude: Santa Fe is nowhere close to the highest cities in the world, and millions of people safely live at altitudes higher than Santa Fe with no problem. Visitors will talk about the altitude far more than locals. It’s something you don’t really think about after living here for a little while.

2) We Take Pride in Santa Fe’s Cultural Heritage

Santa Fe is one of America’s most cultural cities. First, we inspired one of our country’s best-known artists, Georgia O’Keeffe, which is why we’re now home to the world-famous Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Santa Fe is also home to other cultural mainstays like the Santa Fe Opera (which is world famous), the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and over 250 art galleries.

If you’re looking for artistic inspiration or just appreciate the arts, then Santa Fe’s rich cultural background gives you plenty of reasons to love our city.

3) You’re Only 35 Minutes Away from the Ski Hill

Santa Fe is surrounded by 12,000 foot peaks. Skiing is a big draw in the region. You’re only 35 minutes away from Santa Fe Skin Basin in most parts of the city. Skiers and snowboarders frequently praise Santa Fe’s Tesuque Peak (12,000 feet) as having some of the best skiing in the country.

If you feel like driving a little further, Taos Ski Valley and Red River are both about 2 hours north of the city and offer some of the country’s best skiing. They’re famous nationwide.

Ultimately, there’s no shortage of skiing options around Santa Fe in the winter.

4) We’re Surrounded by Mountains

Hiking and biking opportunities are all around you in Santa Fe, NM. Santa Feans are famously outdoorsy: whether we’re climbing, biking, hiking, or just enjoying some sunshine outdoors, we love getting outside every day of the year.

As a testament to the outdoorsy nature of Santa Feans, Outside Magazine is headquartered in Santa Fe. No matter where you are in Santa Fe, you’re never too far of a drive from experiencing some of the best outdoor terrain our country has to offer.

5) Experience the Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway and Enchanted Circle for World-Class Driving

Whether you’re taking a Sunday drive or doing some hiking, the Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway originates in downtown Santa Fe’s Palace of the Governors (which is the oldest public building in America) and takes you 15 miles through ponderosa, spruce, fir, and aspen-filled terrain in the Santa Fe National Forest. The road comes to an end at the Santa Fe Ski Basin, where you can tackle some runs in the winter or go mountain biking in the summer.

Meanwhile, the Enchanted Circle takes you on a drive through the outskirts of Santa Fe, taking you around the mountains and making it easy to feel lost in the wilderness. The Enchanted Circle drive is particularly popular (and beautiful) on a sunny winter day when the sun is sparkling off the white snow.

6) We’re Rich with History

Santa Fe’s history goes back much farther than the United States. Centuries before America was a country, the region was populated by dozens of Native American villages. The Pueblo people trace their history in the region as far back as 900, when they built a village called Ogapoge in what is now downtown Santa Fe. They settled in the Santa Fe area for its easy access to the Santa Fe River. That village extended for half a mile around and was centered on the modern Santa Fe Plaza. 

The modern city of Santa Fe was officially founded when Spanish settlers arrived in the region in the 1600s, naming the city “Holy Faith” in Spanish. In 1610, Santa Fe was chosen as the capital of the Spanish province of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico in New Spain, and it has remained the capital almost consistently since.

Santa Fe also played a part in the Republic of Texas’s history, as Santa Fe was claimed as part of the western portion of Texas after it seceded from Mexico in 1836.

Many people are also surprised to learn that Santa Fe was involved in the American Civil War. As part of the New Mexico Campaign of that war, a Confederate flag was flown over the Santa Fe capitol building for a few days in March 1862.

[headquarters of the Manhattan Project was a small adobe hacienda on East Palace Ave, just a block off the plaza.  This was the clandestine office of the famous A-bomb project credited with ending WWII, in which the world’s preeminent physicists and engineers of the day were secretly sent to create the ultimate weapon. Today’s Los Alamos National Laboratory located in the mountain town of Los Alamos (45 minutes from Santa Fe) is the legacy of that project.]

Today, Santa Fe retains its title as the oldest state capital city in the United States. Signs of this history can be found all around town.

7) Don’t Forget You’re in a Desert

Santa Fe may be an outdoor mecca filled with skiing, hiking, biking, and cultural opportunities, but we’re still a desert. Don’t forget that!

If you’re new to the region, expect to encounter dry, flaky skin – especially in the bone dry winter months. You’re going to need lots of moisturizer and conditioner.

In the summer, don’t forget to lather up with sunscreen. At this altitude, it doesn’t take more than 20 or 30 minutes to get a noticeable burn under the bright New Mexico sun. Sunscreen isn’t something you “probably should wear” in Santa Fe: it’s something you need to wear.

8) You’re Only an Hour Away from Albuquerque

Albuquerque, with a population of about half a million people, is just an hour down the road from Santa Fe. So you’re never too far away from big city amenities.

Santa Fe does have its own airport (SAF), but you can often get better deals (and more international flights) out of Albuquerque. No matter why you need to visit the big city, there’s a reason why many Santa Feans have pretty much memorized the I-25 down to Albuquerque.

9) We Have Some of the Best Food in America

Whether you’re interested in some of the best burritos you’ll ever eat or you’d rather sit down at a charming local café, Santa Fe is famous for its food. Like most touristy towns, there’s a blend of popular restaurants and local hangouts, but you have plenty of places to eat no matter what you’re looking for.

Our city is also famous for its farmer’s market, including the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market (recently named as one of the top 10 in the nation), which operates year-round and provides locals with fresh food from over 150 active vendors.

Ready to settle in Santa Fe? Build your dream home in Santa Fe, New Mexico with the help of the award-winning homebuilders, designers, and contractors at Palo Santo Designs.

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