Miller Hull of the pacific northwest; Lake/Flato in Texas; Brian MacKay-Lyons in Nova Scotia; and Marlon Blackwell of Arkansas. Favorite Element: The "honest" use of materials. For example, our load-bearing block walls are also the interior finish. I love the play of light and shadow across them. Biggest Challenge: Our biggest challenge, and also our biggest failure, was trying to do too many things in a small footprint. Being an architect, my job is to distill client’s disparate ideas into a cohesive concept. For clients, I edit out things that don't reinforce their goals. Because I so often act as an impartial arbiter for others, I just assumed I could do the same for myself. Biggest Embarrassment: That I’m still not done with the house. I always feel I need to explain myself and justify the condition of things to folks. Perhaps that is the curse: always wanting to refine a design. What Friends Say: "I get first right of refusal if you ever decide to sell." Proudest DIY: I lack the skills to be satisfied with my own handiwork. I leave execution to the pros and stick to designing and conceptualizing. (Although we did our own painting and staining.) Biggest Indulgences: The primary shell and systems, burnished block-cavity wall construction, high-efficiency triple-glazed windows, and in-floor heat with a high-efficiency boiler (92 AFUE). Best Advice: Build for yourself and not for resale. Among the reasons older homes still sell is that they were well built and have character, unlike so much new housing stock. Green Elements/Initiatives:
We built in an establish neighborhood in lieu of a new subdivision or other lost rural "green-field" location. Both my wife and I work out of the home, so that’s a fairly sustainable leaping-off point.
We sited the house to the south/southwest in order to utilize passive solar. We use a lot of daylighting. There really aren’t many spaces where you can’t look out in (at least) two directions.
High-efficiency wall and roof construction. Aside from the insulated 15-inch-thick masonry walls, the framed walls have continuous exterior rigid insulation as well as the nominal 6-inch batts. The roof and exterior floor cantilevers have cavities filled with Icynene spray-foam insulation.
Cool metal roofing reduces summer thermal gains and, along with the metal siding, will typically contain 30% to 90% recycled content. It can also be recycled in the future.
Tripled-glazed and tinted windows
High-efficiency boiler (92 AFUE)
Energy Star appliances
Most light fixtures were outfitted with fluorescent lamps, and we are recently beginning the transition to LED lamps as well.
All roofs direct water to rain gardens, which reduce city storm-water loads as well as the amount of turf grass requiring mowing and maintenance.
Favorite Green Element: The open stairs that connect all levels. While not designed to create a true siphon for heat, the stairwell does let heat accumulate, rise up from all levels, and get exhausted out naturally. It functions well enough for our needs, while still being an aesthetic feature with multiple functions (including being a library, thanks to bookcase guardrails). It also provides daylighting connections between floors.
Munchkin boiler, Buderus hot-water storage tank, Unico System blower module for supplemental heating and cooling, Lennox compressor/condenser, PureAir filtration and heat-recovery ventilator
Windows: Triple-glazed and tinted spectrally neutral Pella windows, some with between-the-glass blinds
Paint: Mautz (local company now a part of Sherwin-Williams)
Flooring: Stained concrete, bamboo in living room and second floor, cork in loft
Design firm: Senektekts, LLC
(Thanks, Rob and Maxine!)Green Tour Submission Form. (Images: Senektekts)