Two ways to go green
Many custom builders, architects, and designers have become adept at creating green homes that offer tangible benefits such as lower operating costs and improved indoor air quality and comfort. But there’s more than one way to achieve sustainability.
Many custom builders, architects, and designers have become adept at creating green homes that offer tangible benefits such as lower operating costs and improved indoor air quality and comfort. But there’s more than one way to achieve sustainability. As this article shows, a modestly sized home that maximizes passive solar heat gain and ventilation can work just as well as a large one where the clients opted for a hefty investment in alternative energy sources.
Making every inch count
Since all views are to the northeast, Brown placed windows and roof overhangs where they would get minimal solar heat gain during the day. On cool nights, the family enjoys gathering around the wood stove on the screened porch.
The living spaces aren’t large, but they connect and flow together well, “so it doesn’t feel like you’re in a tiny space,” says architect Tim Brown. Transom and clerestory windows can be opened to allow breezes to naturally ventilate the house.
Architect Tim Brown’s home in Austin, Texas, is 2,075 square feet. Brown provided the following details:In a blower-door test, the home scored 0.7 air changes per hour (ACH). To meet Energy Star requirements, that figure must be 2.5 ACH or less; 1 ACH is considered excellent.
In a duct-blaster test, air leakage was 3.8 percent. The acceptable level of leakage is 10 percent.The roof is Galvalume, an aluminum-zinc alloy coated sheet steel made by BIEC International. A portion of the home is sided with the same material.Three filters—sediment, charcoal, and ultraviolet—purify collected rainwater for drinking. The water is gravity-fed into two 10,000-gallon tanks, where it’s stored until needed.The home has low-flow faucets, dual-flush toilets and an efficient electric water heater that loses only one degree in temperature per day when it’s shut off. A recirculation system at each shower and bathtub ensures that water isn’t wasted as it heats up.Native grasses and plants don’t require irrigation.Brown convinced his trash-collection company to haul away recyclable materials from the site, which earned him extra points from the Austin Energy Green Building program.
One of the family’s favorite spots is the screened porch on the west side. Two 3-foot-wide doors open onto it from the house. “We naturally ventilate four months out of the year,” Brown says.
Reclaimed merbau, an Asian hardwood, was used for the stair treads and the countertop on the kitchen island. The shiplap detail on the wall is another flourish that builder Cody Schmidt especially likes.