Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First LEED certified home in the Heights!

Article below taken directly from Houston Heights Newsletter:

LEED Construction In The Heights:

Green and Mainstream information provided by the architects as part of qualification for LEED certification

Nestled among a mix of bungalows, two story traditional architecture, and the ever-present quirky, the new Heights residence at 711 East 19th Street blends with the flavor of the surrounding neighborhood, while still making its own statement. From the beginning, homeowners Darryl & Dawnia Willis dreamed of a home that was healthy, sustainable, efficient, and comfortable, while fitting into the community. With that said, they also wanted a home that was unique with a contemporary flare. 

As part of the effort to create a sustainable home, this Heights residence has been carefully designed and built to achieve a LEED certified rating. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to provide third-party verification and a concise framework for identifying and implementing sustainable design, construction and operations practices.

Key areas that LEED considers in its rating system are: water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, energy savings, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources. This rating and certification process creates an incentive to build in a more environmentally friendly manner. Homeowners and prospective buyers are assured that a house with a LEED certification outperforms traditionally constructed homes and can significantly increase the market value of a home. With a well integrated, holistic design approach and a committed team of homeowner, architect, builder, and a thirdparty LEED consultant, this home highlights that the means, methods, and benefits of achieving a LEED certification are readily accessible and affordable.

The implementation of this philosophy started with the preparation of the site. When the homeowners purchased the lot, it included a home not original to the site, at that time being used as rental property. Instead of tearing the home down, as so many people do, the homeowners found a buyer to move the home, update it, and repurpose it for low-income housing.

The livability and special features of this home buck the assumption of what most believed to be indicative of a green home, such as expensive energy systems, stark details, impersonal materials, and ugly solar contraptions. Instead, this home is a carefully planned balance between innovative materials, energy efficiency, water efficiency, and luxury appointments. One such innovative and sustainable material is a warm, dark colored wood called IpĂ© used for the front porch flooring. It is a Brazilian hardwood that is naturally immune to decay, insects, and mold and is fire-resistant. More notably, the wood originated from an FSC-certified supplier. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mandates and oversees the responsible management of forest harvesting. 

While the Energy Star rating system exceeds national energy codes by 10 to 15%, this home takes it a step further by substantially exceeding the Energy Star rating. This accomplishment is partly due to the radiant barrier applied to the roof decking. The barrier reduces heat gain and improves energy performance.

Behind the scenes, many steps were taken to ensure the house has greatly improved indoor air quality and ventilation. The home’s ventilation system has a dehumidification mode and dual air filters, with one located at each return air vent and the other at each air unit. During construction, all vents and duct openings were protected from dust with covers, and the air system will be run continuously for a 48-hour flush-out before the homeowners move in. The indoor air quality is also protected from the attached garage pollutants through a complete sealing of the wall from the foundation to the top of the wall. Other indoor air toxins such as dust, mold, mildew, and other allergens are greatly reduced by the homeowners’ choice not to use carpet.

Site elements implemented to support sustainability and efficiency include a high efficiency irrigation system, a permeable terrace, nontoxicpest control measures, and drought-tolerant turf.

Houston, it’s time to ‘green up.’ Interest is at an all-time high and the long-term benefits of green construction are proven. The successful planning and construction of this home proves that the ideas and concepts of building sustainable and green are not just for the homes on the fringe, but can be included in a well-appointed home for fine living.


  1. This is really exciting to see. I'm very happy they didn't put up another stucco McMansion , but instead invested in their home, the Heights, and the world at large. Do you think you'll be able to do a follow-up detailing some of the systems or reporting utility usage?

    Either way, thanks for a great post!

  2. Hi Kevin,
    I can certainly try. The architects who designed the home- NewberryCampa - are very good friends with our company. I'll be happy to check in periodically and see what they have to say. Hopefully it will be in a home tour one year.

  3. Hi,

    How do we get a list of the local and national incentives available for LEED homes?


  4. Hi Maria, this website should help, just copy and paste into your browser: