When the owners of this 1,005 square foot weekend lake cabin explained their dream to builder Don Ferrier, they told him they wanted the house to look like it had been there for 100 years. What they got was a net-zero gem that, at press time, was the greenest house in Texas per the Green Built Texas certification program.
The home uses reclaimed and sensitively chosen produts to blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings. The HERS 30 house gets to net zero through wind power. Its siting, which takes advantage of a 50' oak and five 30' crepe myrtles, and the deep overhangs keep solar heat gain in check. The house offers plenty of natural ventilation and daylighting, which also reduces energy loads.
To provide the requested century-old aesthetics, Ferrier integrated 85-year-old deconstructed barn siding, 100-year-old deconstructed tongue-and-groove wood subfloor from a chicken coop for interior wood floors, and 150-year-old timbers from a deconstructed timber frame barn.
While the reclaimed look of the house is attractive, it's how it was put together that is important to the home's performance. "We increased the size of the west side porch for better sun shading," Ferrier notes. "We still have west windows but with a 12' porch instead of a 6' or 8' to delay the sun from coming through the windows."
"The number one rule in hot summer climates is to keep the sun out of the house," Ferrier reminds. Equally important to make the home super tight. "You can have great insulation, but if the house leaks, so what?"
Ferrier credits a good builder/design team and the owner for this successful project: "the owners understood the investment [in sustainable features] and thought the return was worth it in terms of health and financial investment. They see that value is not best price per square foot."
To view this article as it appears in our December 2010 issue, with floor plan, additional photos, and product information, please visit our Magazine Archive.