Valparaiso native's project highlights sustainable living

2013-12-28T06:00:00Z 2013-12-30T13:27:11Z Valparaiso native's project highlights sustainable livingLesly Bailey Times correspondent
December 28, 2013 6:00 am  • 

Valparaiso native John Cribbs is striving to shine a spotlight on sustainable living, recently participating in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon.

Cribbs was a member of the Arizona State University student team that collaborated with University of New Mexico students on the project: Solar Homes Adapting for Desert Equilibrium.

“The Department of Energy challenges 20 collegiate teams to design and build solar-powered homes. I was the architectural project manager,” Cribbs said. “I was involved from day one … from design to actually building it.”

Cribbs said the SHADE project scored high in areas of architecture, affordability and market appeal at the recent decathlon in Irvine, Calif.

The house was designed for an older, active couple living in a Southwest desert environment and features multiple patios to merge indoor and outdoor areas and create a fluid, expansive living. It will now be on display in Phoenix as part of an initiative by Mayor Greg Stanton.

“The home features adaptability, flexibility and functionality. We are looking to introduce a new term: effective square footage. Through the use of transformable furniture and the way a home is laid out, we can double the interior square footage without using extra space,” he said. “You will not use a dining room and a bedroom at the same time and you could transform both easily so both function and you can double your square footage.”

The decathlon serves as a way to generate ideas and highlight the latest technology and innovations.

“We can educate the public on sustainable living and what that entails and get the ball rolling on the sustainable front,” Cribbs said.

He is working on his doctorate in construction management at ASU after earning his master’s in architecture in May and his bachelor’s in environmental design from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“I want to work in the custom residential field. It is a really interesting field to me. Working on the solar-powered house, I was involved with all the details and actually building it so I got a solid grasp of how that works,” he said. “My end goal is to own a design and building firm and consulting company.”

With mom Lucia in interior design and dad David in the furniture industry, Cribbs said he was “always interested in the way people live.”

“I hope to reverse the trend that more is better. You don’t need an extremely huge house to live in as a couple with one child. I want to make a statement with custom homes that less is more.”

For more information on the team and its project, visit

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