eaDesign for Life™ passive design strategies for resiliency and sustainability make this homeplace in Pearland Texas a special place in its neighborhood. Organic edible and native landscaping with fruit trees and berries and ample vegetable garden space were part of this homeplace’s planning. So was being outdoors for parents and children alike. This meant that prime outdoor spaces around the house must be architecturally designed to be as comfortable as possible for year-round use. However, in this part of the U.S., cooling southeasterly breezes of Spring, Summer and Fall on the north side of houses are blocked from these breezes by the wind shadowing effect of the house. Thus making the outdoor spaces on the north sides of houses so uncomfortable during overly hot days, this part of the property is rarely used. These uncomfortable conditions, however, do not apply to this homeplace. During the overheated days and seasons, cooling breezes are deflected into the north side space due to the purposeful architectural positioning of the garage/exercise room structure in relationship with the house to redirect these breezes. This made what normally would be an uncomfortable overheated and sweaty outdoor space into a highly desired and much- used outdoor space. In the wintertime, a solid fence on the north side helps block cold winds.
The home’s prominent strong north/south orientation assists passive ventilation as well as providing an ideal surface for the solar PV System array, and for rain water harvesting. Due to site constraints, the south roofs face 28° west of true south and were designed with optimal slope to maximize the year-round performance efficiency of the home’s 7.5 kW PV system. These PV panels and the bare metal heat-reflecting roofing do triple duty as ideal rain water harvesting, solar collection, and heat reflection surfaces. An underground or above ground rain water cistern will be added in the future.
To shade the south-southwest facing windows, the roof overhang was extended to about 4 ft and strapped and braced to accommodate the uplift and downward forces of hurricane force winds. A linear cupola provides delightfully ample daylighting for the main central living area, and with its operable windows, also allows the home to generate its own interior breezes without the use of any fans during Spring and Fall, and for pleasant days of summer and winter. In the wintertime, streaming sunlight and cloud shadows through these clerestory windows play on the interior and provide passive solar heating.
The architect’s Craftsman-inspired home’s exterior and interior finishes were wonderfully executed by a true wood craftsman and are a treat to admire. Even the underside of the sloping roofs around the entire house, the entry walkway covering, and the porches have a wonderful pattern of battens that hide the joints of the very low maintenance soffit material.
A central lounge and sleeping loft under the cupola along with indoor play area, hiding spaces, and a linear underroof space, provided the inspiration for the children’s’ name for the home: “Hide-n-Seek”. Health wise, having the garage separate from the home, using naturally mined gypsum board (rather than U.S. coal power plant toxic residue-laden gypsum board normally used in 99% of homes being built), no VOC paints, low VOC adhesives, a naturally induced vent for the kitty litter box, and a whole host of other indoor air quality measures and material choices, all help keep the indoor air of this very air-tight home much healthier and far cleaner than most homes. This is truly a place to help to raise healthy children and for a family to thrive.
This home is an independent third party verified Registered Gold LEED Home which will probably earn the latest Energy Star 3 rating along with the EPA’s Indoor airPlus certification too.