THIS SCHOOLHOUSE ROCKS
TO WARD THE END of her career working
various administrative and teaching positions in higher education, Victoria Peterson
was looking for a project to get involved in.
When she saw the property in southwestern
New York where she now lives, she knew she
had found her next venture. She was immediately drawn by the potential she saw in the
LEED-ER OF THE PACK
TOM AND PAM Moore’s ;,;;;-square-foot
home outside San Diego looks beautiful, but
not necessarily unique. Looks, however, can
be deceiving. Despite its size, the home is
exceptionally energy-efficient, extremely
strong, weatherproof and well insulated.
“The vision was to create a fireproof,
earthquake-resistant, well-insulated home,”
says Tom, a retired naval aviator and busi-
nessman. Adds Pam, “We personally
designed the floor plan. My husband was his
own builder, did the subcontracting, and
I supervised most of the project for him.”
Their plan went into action in ;;;;,
when they hired subcontractors to break
ground on their ;;-acre plot, about ;; miles
north of San Diego. Their home was built
to LEED (Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design) standards, which
is a green building certification program
that recognizes best-in-class building strat-
egies and practices.
To realize their vision, the Moores, who
lost their previous home to a fire in ;;;;,
decided to use insulated concrete forms,
interlocking ;-inch-thick rigid foam thermal insulation blocks filled with ; foot of
reinforced concrete. The foam blocks
remain in the walls as permanent interior
and exterior insulation, resulting in an
airtight, energy-efficient, fireproof and
Left to right: The Moore estate, insulated
blocks, and Tom and Pam Moore.
Five rotating solar panels power their
house. The solar power system works so well
that the couple sells surplus energy back
to San Diego Gas & Electric, the area’s local
Outside, “we designed the Southwest
landscape using drought-tolerant plants,
some bird of paradise and a few fruit trees,”
Pam explains. “Each plant has an underground automatic bubbler running to it for
water efficiency, and Arizona rock was used
as a ground cover to keep the soil cool in
summer and warm in winter.”—Will Fifield
brick building that was originally built as a
two-room schoolhouse in ;;;;. “I thought,
‘Oh my God, this is a steal,’ ” she recalls.
Peterson believes the ;,;;;-square-foot
building was decommissioned as a school
sometime in the late ;;;;s or early ’;;s.
Over the years, it had been adapted to various uses by the previous owners, and at
some point in the ;;;;s a ;,;;;-square-foot
hall had been built next to it, which she now
uses as a shop.
Peterson says that turning the old
schoolhouse into a home was a labor of love,
and full of discoveries. “It originally had
wonderful high ceilings, but at some point
someone had built a dropped ceiling, prob-
ably during the energy crisis in the ’;;s,”
she says. “I had that torn out, and while the
contractor was seeing if we could expose a
chimney in the building, he discovered that
the schoolhouse had been built with a dumb-
waiter … so he restored it for me.”
Another gem that emerged during res-
toration was beautiful maple flooring.
“Carpet had been glued to it, and once we
finally got the glue off, we found that it was
in good shape,” she says.
The schoolhouse also came with ;;
acres of land. “There is a stream that goes
into nearby woods,” Peterson explains.
“There are always
deer back in there.
It’s such a nice place.
The entire space has
which I ascribe to
the fact that there
were lots of children here at one
PHOTOS: MICHELLE MILLER PHO TOGRAPH Y
Tom & Pam Moore