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Popular website Dezeen has featured the Hill Country House, highlighting its goal to serve as a sustainable prototype for a planned community in rural Texas. The home's design has garnered an AIA Austin Design Award, Austin Green Award, and 4-star rating from Austin Energy Green Building, the nation’s first green building program and the model for the LEED certification system.
An 8-kiloWatt solar array supplies 61% of annual energy usage, generating approximately 40kW hours of electricity per day. Mechanical heating and cooling is made possible by a 5-ton geothermal system consisting of a loop field of six wells drilled 250 feet into the ground. A 30,000-gallon rainwater collection system, designed to provide 200 gallons per day (enough for four full-time residents), meets all of the owner’s annual water needs, utilizing charcoal and UV filters to purify rainwater collected from 5,300 square feet of roof area.
The home’s pier-and-beam construction minimizes the structure’s footprint on the prairieland setting, which has been kept in its native state. The foundation also elevates the house above the floodplain, future-proofing the residence from the severe flooding that has become a more frequent occurrence throughout Central Texas in recent years.
The Hill Country House plays several significant roles on the scale of the surrounding community. The property is a designated Wildlife Management area; the land provides the environment necessary for migrating song birds, and the owners maintain a census of the birds migrating through. In addition, the owners have worked closely with community officials to garner support for creating a series of developments—with this home as the prototype—in which residents would share public spaces, site paths, and other resources. The owners have taken it upon themselves to promote their residence as a model for future off-the-grid development, building relationships with the community by hosting folk and Americana concerts on their covered outdoor stage.