Greenhouse Country Home
Chappell Hill / Independence TX area
This Washington County 4500 sq. ft. passive solar designed retirement home has 3300 sq. ft. of conditioned floor area and incorporates the architect’s signature designed 1200 sq. ft., 2-1/2 story high completely passive self-cooled and self-heated greenhouse/solarium. This greenhouse/solarium can be completely thermally isolated from the house any time it falls outside the owner’s comfort zone while greatly extending the amount of time, in months, when the house’s artificial cooling and heating systems are not needed. To do this, the greenhouse’s design actually generates so much natural draft that it can cool the entire house during the overheated days of the spring and fall months while also acting as a shade structure during this time (as well as a greenhouse). During the wintertime cold months, in addition to its greenhouse duties for plants, moist excess heated air created by the greenhouse is used to heat the entire house and to improve indoor comfort by alleviating excessive skin drying conditions. In the summertime, it simply acts as a large shade structure for cooling the house while year-round plants grow happily inside, some planted directly into the ground.
The greenhouse/solarium’s design never needs supplemental energy to keep it always 10o cooler than hottest summer daytime outdoor temperatures. If fact, the passive cooling ventilation works so well that the two exhaust fans installed to cool the space never were used, so they were removed and reinstalled to help cool an existing barn on the property. Interior wintertime temperatures never fall below 55o F.
In the living portion of the house, most rooms have 10 ft ceilings with some vaulting to 16 ft. The home contains lots of interior masonry for thermal mass (high heat capacity) to retain the natural cooling in summer, retain heating in winter and improve comfort. Additions to the property over the years by the architect include remodeling of the guest house, attractive bull resistant fencing and a covered Gazebo with an outdoor fireplace entertainment area.