Atmosphere Design Build is founded on an impassioned desire to design authentic structures that are built in a conscientious and ecological manner. That has translated into our specific focus on designing and constructing super energy efficient homes. Super energy efficient homes are healthy, comfortable, and they significantly reduce long term energy use. We believe that great design and super energy efficient, high performing buildings, are inherently complementary. And our goal is to manifest this belief in buildings that are beautifully crafted, functional, efficient and inspiring to live in. We love building/ making/ creating and take pride in creating buildings that are meant to last, as John Ruskin’s said long ago “work as our descendants will thank us for.”

As a design and build firm we take a holistic approach to the process of creating structures and we work in a collaborative manner with all the stake holders throughout the design and construction phase.  The design/build model provides continuity, eliminates gaps in communication and responsibility- we are accountable from start to finish. This method of designing and building provides the client with a comprehensive and integrated service. It is also a model that begins with a belief in relationships and collaboration. Our relationship with the client takes primacy throughout the entire process and we acknowledge how weighty it is to be entrusted with shepherding a dream into reality.

In our business we recognize that we are stewards of our clients’ built environment as well as their financial resources – this always remains an essential tenant even as we pursue being stewards of the greater environment.

How you build and who builds it for you, really does matter. We back our philosophies with expertise and experience. Atmosphere Design Build has consultancy or accreditation with the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS), LEED, and Build-It-Green.


Mela Breen: Founder + Principal Designer

Mela is headmistress of all things design, at Atmosphere Design Build. She is dedicated to design excellence: which includes a collaborative design process and engaging relationship with the client, as well as a deep commitment to creating beautiful buildings that function well.  She believes energy efficiency is integral to the beauty of a building and that efficiency can be achieved without sacrificing aesthetic quality. She thinks Wabi-Sabi has something going on – and that the straight lines of modern architecture are enhanced by the touch of human hands. She has worn a tool belt on numerous construction projects and that experience informs her design decisions. Mela is the mother of two young boys and has learned a lot about durable surfaces from them! She studied literature at Reed College, and then went on to pursue a BEnvd, major in Architecture, from the University of Colorado, at Boulder. She is well versed in Passive House/Building design and is a LEED AP.

Jeffrey Adams: Architect

Jeff grew up in the Sonoran desert of southern Arizona where he acquired a deeply rooted appreciation for the interplay of light, color, texture, and space. His first summer job was at an architecture firm in Tucson, Line and Space, where he started out painting window trim on the office and eventually learned how to draw study sketches and build topographic site models. Jeff received a broad education in engineering, architecture and the humanities, first at Princeton University (B.S.E., 1997) and then at UCLA (M. Arch. I, 2003). While working for Johnston Marklee & Associates in Los Angeles, he was the project manager for an award-winning residence. Since moving to Nevada County in 2005, Jeff has immersed himself in "place", becoming profoundly connected to the Yuba River watershed and surrounding community. In his spare time Jeff is developing a multi-use property on the San Juan Ridge featuring farming, affordable housing, artist studios, and yoga. Jeff joined Atmosphere Design Build in 2015 and is licensed to practice architecture in the state of California.

David Good: Founder + Builder, Certified Passive House Consultant

Dave is an inventor by heart – always looking for ways best to build. He is a well-rounded and seasoned craftsman with experience in all phases of construction including a broad knowledge of mechanical systems, materials, and building science. He is deeply committed to creating high performance buildings and he maintains a rigorous level craftsmanship on his projects to achieve these goals. He is a problem solver, who seeks out emerging technologies alongside ancient ones. When he isn’t managing building projects or caring for his sons, you can find him late at night making handmade skis in his shop. Dave holds a Bachelors of Science in Geological Engineering, minor in Environmental Science, from the Colorado School of Mines. He is one of only a handful of builders, in California, that is a Certified Passive House Consultant. He is also a Build It Green, Certified Green Building Professional.

Our Construction Crew:


Daniel Guyer: Managing Officer, Sensei

Dan has over 40 years of experience as a master craftsman. His expertise spans everything from fine furniture construction to heavy equipment operation. Whether it is Japanese joinery or barn styles of the west, Dan's knowledge of building techniques and history is encyclopedic. His range of experience and depth of knowledge is a rare asset. He also has an approach to sustainability that is acutely tuned to conservation of all types of resources, financial as much as environmental. He is always looking for the most cost effective and least consumptive solutions. As the managing officer, Dan is instrumental in keeping our projects on time and on budget. Dan has lived in the Sierra Foothills since the early 70’s, where he was the owner-operator of one of the first organic apple orchards in the state - before he became a carpenter. He has held his CA Contractors License since 1985.                                                                     

Our Collaborators: