Saxum Vineyard Equipment Barn – Merit Award

SAX 07 CaseyDunn

Located in the Templeton Gap area of West Paso Robles, California this simple agricultural storage structure rests at the toes of the 50-acre James Berry Vineyard and the adjacent Saxum Winery sitting just over 800 feet away. Designed as a modern pole barn, the reclaimed oil field drill stem pipe structure’s primary objectives are to provide an armature for a photovoltaic roof system that offsets more than 100% of power demands on the winery and to provide covered open-air storage for farming vehicles and their implements, workshop and maintenance space, and storage for livestock supplies.


Thoughtful project that incorporates solar, rainwater capture, and material re-use.

Noteworthy performance features include:

1. Sustainable reuse of materials

2. Barn provides a large photovoltaic system for the nearby winery

//framework for design excellence measures
Measure 1: Design for Integration
This structure’s primary objectives were to provide an armature for a photovoltaic roof system that would offsets power demands on the nearby winery and to provide covered open-air storage for farming vehicles and their implements, workshop and maintenance space, and storage for livestock supplies. It was designed to be flexible as well, to shelter both equipment and livestock, and to allow the owner to change his mind on use down the line.
Sitting sentry as the foremost structure present upon entering the vineyard lined property, the barn and its renewable energy system speak to the winery’s commitment to sustainability and subservience to the natural landscape. This structure is completely self-sufficient, operating independently from the energy grid, which maximizes the structure’s survivability and resilience. It is quite utilitarian, but also carries a confidence and a straightforward elegance that feels at home in the vineyard.
Measure 2: Design for Equitable Communities
Measure 3: Design for Ecosystems
As a rural site that supported nearly 100% of vegetation before and after construction, the only landscaping that was added to the project around the barn was native cover crop which grows and regenerates naturally to fill in and cover areas of grading without the need for irrigation. The barn footprint occupies an underperforming area of the vineyard that was previously used for compost.
Measure 4: Design for Water
The project uses very little water and the small amount of rainwater that accumulates on the roof area is managed and diverted into natural water routes or returned back to the ground to recharge the water table.
Measure 5: Design for Economy
The barn is intentionally spartan in nature, with affordable and simple materials and construction expressive and honest. The barn was right sized to only essential space needed to meet storage requirements for the vineyard. Designing for longevity meant that materials and assemblies needed to be robust and resilient, with minimalistic materials selected to withstand the dry climate, for regional availability, long-term durability and to minimize the need for maintenance. The primary structure is constructed of welded Schedule 40 reclaimed drill stem pipe, left to weather naturally. Laminated glass solar modules, serve as both the solar system and the roofing.
Measure 6: Design for Energy
Steel pipe structure holds the photovoltaic system that reduces the purchase of electric energy (kWh) by 171% (roughly 88,697 kWh/year), eliminating the dependence of grid tied power for the winery and vineyard irrigation wells through net metering. Utilizing 192 Lumos Solar LSX frameless modules as both the primary roof and the renewable energy generator, offset any additional costs to construct an additional roof with separately mounted crystalline solar panels. The DC output from the module strings run into DC combiner boxes in the barn piped to Fronius inverters tied into the winery’s switchgear, resulting in 53.76 kW DC system output.
Measure 7: Design for Well-Being
The barn is predominantly an open air structure, providing cover for equipment and vehicles, with open-air work bays for maintenance. The enclosed work shop space opens to the center of the barn, and it’s only wall/ceiling material (Douglas Fir plywood) had an applied water based flat polyurethane finish that met CalGreen VOC limits.
Measure 8: Design for Resources
Simple materials were chosen for practicality, durability and resilience, to perform well with minimal maintenance, and were sourced locally (available within 500 miles of the project site), to reduce embodied energy and emissions from transportation, and to support the local economy.
Foundations limit the amount of cast-in-place concrete by including pervious gravel paving for all open vehicle storage bays and livestock pens, maximizing the amount of rainwater that is filtered back through the soil into the watershed. In addition, providing an engineered deepened earthwork program allowed the structural foundation requirements to be more efficient with their utilization of cast-in-place concrete.
Measure 9: Design for Change
The barn was built for permanence and longevity, likely surviving its current generation of ownership and being passed on to future generations within the family. The roof mounted photovoltaics are designed such that as solar modules get damaged or reach their life span, they can be swapped out for replacements or newer technology.
Measure 10: Design for Discovery
A simple post-occupancy analysis was provided to the client to evaluate the performance of the photovoltaic system and to target areas requiring cell maintenance.
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