UC Berkeley Wildfire Prepared Home Design Winners

Top landscape designs from UC Berkeley highlight the importance of wildfire resilience for Wildfire Awareness Month

$10,000 Prize Winners

* Click images to view full documents.

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$5,000 Prize Winners

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$1,000 Prize Winners

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The contest was administered by UC Berkeley’s Director of the Institute for Urban and Regional Development Kristina Hill, PhD, and contest judges included experts in landscape design and wildfire science and defense:

  • Elizabeth Boults – Faculty in Landscape Architecture & Environmental Design at UC Davis, Trustee of the American Society of Landscape Architects
  • Steve Hawks – Senior Director for Wildfire, IBHS
  • John Morgan – Staff Chief for Wildfire Risk Reduction, CAL FIRE
  • April Owens – Executive Director, Habitat Corridor Project
  • Steve Quarles – Advisor Emeritus, UC Cooperative Extension; former Chief Scientist for Wildfire and Durability, IBHS
  • Bill Tyler – Fire Chief, Novato Fire Protection District
  • Yana Valachovic – Forest Advisor and County Director, UC Cooperative Extension


“The goal of this contest was to inspire our students to apply their advanced knowledge of design and show that beauty and safety can be compatible goals, which they clearly achieved,” said Dr. Hill. “While a changing climate may increase our wildfire threat, these award-winning designs illuminate that the visual draw and practical function of a home can go hand in hand.”

The winning ideas feature full-landscape designs, with special emphasis placed on the zero-to-five-foot home ignition zone, consistent with the Wildfire Prepared Home™ standard developed by IBHS. Based on the latest wildfire research, this system of mitigation actions can meaningfully reduce the likelihood that embers will ignite a home.

“The science behind Wildfire Prepared Home proves that taking a system of actions to protect one’s home from wildfire can dramatically reduce risk,” said Alister Watt, chief product officer for IBHS. “As reflected in these landscape designs, the home ignition zone is crucial to establishing a line of defense against wildfire, and the good news is that it does not require sacrificing curb appeal.”

The top designs addressed varying budget levels (low, medium, high) and in addition to establishing a completely noncombustible home ignition zone – which focuses on placing soils and hardscape rather than vegetation around a home’s perimeter – emphasize removing flammable mulch, yard debris, trees, and bushes.

“We are thrilled to share these compelling landscape designs and hope they inspire property owners to embrace these ideas that protect and beautify,” said Linda Goldstein, executive vice president of customer experience and marketing at CSAA Insurance Group. “By continuing to support innovative ideas that reduce risk, we remain committed to protecting our customers and our communities.”

For more information about improving a home’s wildfire resilience visit https://wildfireprepared.org/.


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