March 08 2013

A Comparative Look at Austin’s Most Creatively Sustainable Homes

Rendering of Sol Neighborhood

KRDB, the architects of the Sol community in East Austin, utilized creative solutions to design homes that address multiple facets of sustainability. Affordability is innate in the Zero-Net Energy homes; the carefully considered designs reduced initial costs, and utility costs are lessened due to their energy efficiency achieved through some unexpected methods listed below.

  • Highly energy efficient windows that are placed primarily on the North and South facades of the homes to nearly diminish direct solar heat gain;
  • Two by six exterior frame construction to allow for more insulation;
  • Spray-in insulation;
  • Geothermal HVAC system that off puts hot water that can be used in the homes;
  • And polycrystalline photovoltaic arrays installed on every roof.

Floor plan of the 1538 sqft. 3/3 home. Top: 1st floor; Bottom: 2nd floor

Rendering of the 1538 Plan

The designers of the Sol community have taken a holistic approach not seen in other “green” communities around Austin. While master planned neighborhoods, such as Mueller, utilize more non-toxic and recyclable regional materials to reach their sustainability goals I am most impressed with KRDB’s inclusion of the features listed above, in addition to more environmentally responsible materials. However, other communities around Austin, such as MuellerMidtown Commons at Crestview Station, and the Triangles, all include one major element that Sol lacks – access to alternative transportation. This is a foreseen environmental challenge of this community because it is located a good distance away from the city centre and will require residents to travel by car to all their destinations.

What are some solutions to link such a community to the rest of the city?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Bonnie Rodd

Originally from the North-Central area of California, Bonnie Rodd found herself at home amongst the creative, participatory, and sometimes off beat Austinites. She holds a B.A. in Urban Studies with a minor in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. Her primary interest is sustainable urban development, focusing on alternative transportation and pedestrianism. Believing that the human element in design is invaluable, she dabbled in some social studies as well. This past spring she explored the three legs of sustainability in her thesis titled “Making a Case for Affordable Housing in Transit-Oriented Developments: Austin,TX” and developed a model for single-family affordable housing delivery in such neighborhoods. Bonnie currently resides in Austin, Texas, and will be exposing readers to environmental design issues present in both Austin and Central Texas.

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 8th, 2013 at 9:04 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Energy, Environment, Environmental Design, Housing, Infrastructure, Land Use, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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