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Rancho Cielo


Orange County Sustainability Decathlon Winner, 2023

LOT 103

Rancho Cielo

Rancho Cielo Construction Academy

Team Members
Eziquel Rodriguez, Ed Bennett, Wendy Guardado, Josue Cisneros, Joseph DeRuosi, Kevin Cacho, Andrew Mares, Juan Jimenez, Jesus Camacho, Ivan Rivas, Benito Zavala, Regan Pareira

Rancho Cielo empowers participants to become accountable, competent, productive and responsible citizens, through education, job training and individualized counseling. Participants learn how to make good choices—choices for the future, choices to stay out of trouble, choices to be productive and to act as positive role models for their children. Rancho Cielo’s work reaches much further than those who enroll in our programs; it also touches participants’ families, their children, parents, grandparents, and relatives who witness their accomplishments and new-found dedication.

Rancho Cielo’s 100-acre site was once home to the Natividad Boys’ Ranch, a juvenile incarceration facility that lay dormant for almost twenty years before it was taken over by Rancho Cielo in 2000. A surplus-furniture dumping ground for the County, the Ranch had great potential but required a lot of work and investment to make it useful. The County Administration said that it would cost upwards of $20M to refurbish the property properly, the local business community and private donors upgraded the property for less than $2M.

With help from the construction industry, redevelopment of the site began in earnest in 2003 with the demolition of dilapidated buildings and large-scale clearance of rubbish and debris. The re-construction of administration and educational buildings was completed in 2004. What was once a dormitory became a classroom complex; a kennel became administrative offices; and a crumbling maintenance building became a four hundred square-foot wood shop. A new gymnasium and staff office complex, complete with a student lounge was also built.

Rancho Cielo’s Ted Taylor Vocational Center offers Career Technical Education (CTE) training in support of Monterey County’s largest industries, Agriculture and Construction. The four wings of this state-of-the-art CTE Center will include:

  • Automotive/Diesel Technology and Classic Car Restoration
  • Welding and Fabrication
  • Agriculture Technology & Mechatronics, refrigeration and food safety
  • Sustainable Construction: Commercial and Residential building and trades solutions
710 Old Stage Rd.
Salinas, CA 93908

Model Home

Nexus 01

Rancho Cielo

Target Market


With an emphasis on sustainable, affordable design and a spirit energized by the power of collaboration, our team spent nearly two years planning, designing, and building Nexus 01, a net-zero energy prototype demonstration home designed to educate and inspire the community while shining a spotlight on the possibilities of sustainable, resilient, forward-thinking construction design.

Bringing Nexus01 to life started with a wide network of local business partners, construction experts, designers, sponsors, and donors that we brought together for their expertise, guidance, and support (our “nexus”) allowing us to concentrate on building a prototype home without traditional limits, pushing the boundaries of what sustainable design can be, and elevating conventional building standards to create a model home that promotes health and embraces sustainability, regeneration, flexibility, and community inclusivity.

The epitome of eco-conscious living, this ultra-efficient 847 sq ft home, 1 bedroom, 1 bath home includes an array of carefully curated features and green technologies. From its spacious porch to the innovative interior layout with adaptable, convertible spaces, every detail has been meticulously crafted to create a harmonious living experience blending comfort, high-end style, and environmental responsibility. Integrated sustainable features include an air-tight building envelope, a smart energy recovery ventilation system (ERV), an off-grid, solar energy system with Tesla battery backup, and a greywater system underscoring our commitment to responsible resource management. Modular and shippable, the Nexus 01 prototype home was built to exceed California’s stringent green building standards.

Nexus 01 is more than just a home; it’s a bold statement of design innovation fashioned from our deep commitment to challenging today’s building norms and exploring sustainable solutions fit to address multiple issues, including the growing shortage of affordable, healthy housing and current and future effects of Climate Change.

The Nexus 01 build has also been an extraordinary teaching tool for our Rancho Cielo students, building confidence in their workforce skills and teaching them to understand and address the issues and products that push building performance and design beyond what is practiced and built today. The first-hand experience of planning, designing, and building Nexus 01, overseeing how these systems affect the experience of being in a building, and what it actually takes to build a sustainable home that is healthy, energy and water-efficient, and resilient, can’t be taught from a book.

Exceptional Healthy Home with Thoughtful Design and Eco-Friendly Features

Discover the epitome of eco-conscious living in this stunning sustainable tiny home. Boasting an array of carefully curated features and green technologies, this 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom haven offers a harmonious blend of comfort, style, and environmental responsibility. From its spacious porch to the innovative interior layout, every detail has been meticulously crafted to create a holistic living experience.

Key Features:

Innovative Design: With an open layout that seamlessly integrates the living, dining, and kitchen areas, this tiny home provides a sense of spaciousness and flow. The double height ceiling in the living room adds an airy ambiance, while the adaptable dining and living spaces offer flexibility for your needs.

Luxurious Kitchen: The eat-in kitchen is a culinary enthusiast’s dream, featuring energy-efficient stainless-steel appliances, induction stovetop, stunning granite countertops, and sustainable Hawthorne Wood cabinets. The vented composting drawer adds a touch of eco-friendliness to your daily routine.

Exquisite Details: The attention to detail is evident in the feature Homasote wall coverings in the living room and bedroom, which enhance both acoustics and privacy between rooms. The Core-tec flooring and wood ceilings exude natural elegance, while Milgard fiberglass windows and Solatube skylights flood the space with abundant natural light.

Energy Efficiency and Off-Grid Capability: This tiny home is designed to exceed California Green Building Standards, ensuring top-tier energy performance. The off-grid energy capability, solar power panels, Span smart panel and battery system eliminate the need for a traditional power hookup, while the innovative plumbing design, ERV system, Lutron smart light switches and advanced insulation contribute to a sustainable lifestyle.

Versatile Loft Space: Two loft areas offer additional storage and can be accessed by convenient pull-down ladders. Operable windows in the lofts facilitate passive ventilation and contribute to the overall comfort of the space.

ADA Adaptable and Age-in-Place Design: This home is designed with the future in mind, offering ADA adaptability and age-in-place features to ensure a comfortable and accommodating living environment for years to come.

Modular and Shippable: With its modular construction, this tiny home can be easily shipped and placed on a permanent concrete foundation. Its innovative design also allows for adjustments to the loft roof line to optimize solar orientation based on site conditions.

Cork Rain-Screen System: The low-maintenance cork rain-screen system adds durability and aesthetics to the exterior while contributing to the home’s fire-resistant design.

Embrace a sustainable lifestyle without compromise in this remarkable tiny home. From its energy-efficient systems to its luxurious finishes, this residence stands as a testament to responsible living and innovative design. If you seek a harmonious blend of comfort and environmental consciousness, look no further. Contact us today to experience the future of sustainable living firsthand. Starting at $850,000

Business Profile

Nexus Housing Design & Development Inc.

NexusHousing is a non-profit organization and the result of a collaboration between multiple community construction and design professionals, including the Rancho Cielo Construction Advisory Board, the Rancho Cielo Board of Directors, Director Chris Deevers, visionary Judge John Phillips, and Carmel-based EcoLogic Architects founder and former Rancho Cielo instructor Thomas Rettenwender who originally brought the RFP to Chris Deevers.

With leadership and guidance from local business partners and construction experts, including Pete Scudder, President of Scudder Roofing and Scudder Solar, Bill Hayward, CEO and Chief Sustainability Officer of Hayward Lumber and Founder and CEO of Hayward Score, NexusHousing has grown into a forward-thinking organization dedicated to revolutionizing housing solutions and community development projects.

To empower sustainable living for all through high-quality, healthy, affordable housing solutions. We advocate for green building and inclusive design standards through collaboration, innovation, and community education. By uniting a diverse network of design and construction experts, we drive beyond conventional norms to address the pressing need for quality, sustainable, regenerative homes in our community.

Core Values:

Our organization emphasizes creating homes promoting health, sustainability, regeneration, flexibility, and community inclusivity.

Major Initiatives:

  1. Educate the community about housing options and sustainable, resilient construction.
  2. Empower consumers to make healthy, sustainable, energy-efficient housing choices.
  3. Continue to build a vast network of design and construction experts and skilled tradespeople to work together towards advancements in sustainable, inclusive building practices and develop a comprehensive, professional knowledge base.
  4. Support the Rancho Cielo Construction Academy (RCCA) and actively participate on the RCCA Board.
  5. Assist in shaping and executing the master plan vision of Rancho Cielo.
  6. Facilitate the upzoning of Monterey County.
  7. Streamline our local government’s permitting and building processes.
  8. Emphasize and educate about the importance of housing expansion.
  9. Continue advancing the ongoing work, research, and development efforts of NexusHousing.


Building Community-Centric Homes: NexusHousing aims to address the pressing need for homes in our community by pushing past conventional building standards and striving to design high-quality, healthy, sustainable, and regenerative homes that cater to the specific needs of our community.

Using Innovative Building Practices: NexusHousing is committed to researching and implementing innovative ways to reduce building costs while adhering to the core principles of our design philosophy. We explore various building delivery methods, including prefabrication, panelization, and traditional construction.

Offering Apprenticeship Opportunities: NexusHousing collaborates with the Rancho Cielo Construction and Sustainable Design Academy to create apprenticeship projects that provide hands-on learning experiences for students.


NexusHousing offers extensive services that can be explored on our website,, and the Figma platform.


EcoVillage: This project, funded by Rancho Cielo, is set to commence construction shortly. Students will build houses over the next few years as part of their instructional curriculum.

Larger Master Plan: Funded by Rancho Cielo, this ambitious project has a 30-year Environmental Impact Review (EIR) timeline.

Market Rate ADUs and Units: NexusHousing explores selling market-rate accessory dwelling units (ADUs) or other housing units with funding from various sources.

City of Marina ADU RFP: NexusHousing collaborates with the City of Marina, funded by the city itself.

County Collaboration: NexusHousing works alongside the county to identify and develop potential sites for housing projects.

VA and Park Service Collaboration: NexusHousing engages with VA and Park Service funding for designated projects.

Sustainability and Community Focus:

Profits generated are reinvested into Rancho Cielo for building materials, expert support, and continued research and educational efforts. NexusHousing also directs profits towards marketing initiatives, promoting projects, and maintaining resources for community members interested in building.

Target Market:

NexusHousing primarily serves Monterey County residents, particularly within the Rancho Cielo community. We cater to the area’s unique housing needs and challenges, aiming to alleviate the severe housing shortage.

Approach to Affordability:

NexusHousing addresses affordability by offering various housing options that cater to different segments of the community:

  • RC Alumni Starter Homes: Affordable homes for Rancho Cielo alumni.
  • Faculty/Staff “Workforce” Housing: Housing options for campus staff, emphasizing workforce needs.
  • Transitional Housing: Providing transitional housing solutions for students and the broader workforce.
  • Market Rate ADUs: Creating Accessory Dwelling Units for market-rate housing.

Community Integration:

NexusHousing builds on Rancho Cielo’s existing focus on affordable and transitional housing, extending its commitment to community development and inclusivity.

NexusHousing is driven by its stakeholders’ collaboration, innovation, and dedication, aiming to positively impact housing accessibility and quality in Monterey County.