Approach to the house


"House of Sun and Water"
 Austin, Texas

LEED(R) Platinum logoThe Official First Certified LEED® Platinum Project
is also
The Official
First Certified LEED® Home
in the
Birthplace of U.S. Green Building Programs, Austin Texas

Austin Energy Green Building Program logoAwarded a Platinum level rating (The U. S. Green Building Council's highest possible rating)
Five Star level rating (The Austin Green Building Program's highest possible rating)


Being a one & one-half story house designed on an elongated East-West axis only begins to describe the sustainability of this high performance home. Extensive porches along both the South and West sides serve to shade the structure from summers' heat gain, while allowing winters' warmth through the numerous windows. Designed with many flex-space areas, two of the four-bedrooms will be used by current owners as Office and Studio space, yet the two and a half baths are more than enough to accommodate a larger family. The home is specifically designed for the terrain and microclimate of the site and constructed to provide low energy consumption and healthy living conditions with low-maintenance while using as many durable natural materials as possible within the original owner's budget.

The concrete slab-on-grade house uses highly insulative Aerated Autoclave Concrete block for the ground floor walls which also offer excellent defense against termite damage. Walls are mud plastered on the interior with a stucco exterior. The partial second floor and two story vaulted spaces are constructed using 2x6 foam filled walls having textured and painted sheetrock interior walls and stained fiber cement exterior wall finish. All roofing is standing seam metal on foam insulated wood framing. House finishes include wood flooring milled from reclaimed long leaf pine along with stained concrete, clay tile, and linoleum flooring. Extensive stone walkways and garden walls were partially constructed using the stone from foundation and other construction excavations on site, with the balance trucked from a nearby quarry. Most of the interior wood trim, columns and exposed beams are made from Central Texas woods and Master Bath cabinets are Texas mesquite, all having a no VOC finish.

A separate Carport/Greenhouse/Workshop structure (connected to the house by covered stone walkway) consists of an oversized two vehicle Carport, a 200 sf passive designed Greenhouse with a 400 sf Workshop (both passive designed to be have wind assisted thermal chimney natural ventilative cooling, passive solar wintertime heating and exceptional year round natural daylighting). This structure has standing seam metal roofing to match house with stained fiber cement clad wood framed walls on a concrete slab foundation with painted sheetrock interior. Minimal disturbance of the site was amended by a native landscape incorporated into the native stone-walled front courtyard.

Passive Sustainability (sometimes referred to as passive survivability)

This home is intentionally designed for Passive Sustainability... i.e., to have the ability to naturally maintain relatively comfortable livable conditions for the occupants during times when there may not be power or water or food available from off-site sources.

Along with direct gain passive solar heating for wintertime heating, one of the principle features is the Venturi effect-assisted passive thermal stack ventilative cooling systems designed into both the house and the greenhouse/workshop building for the overheated months.

For this house, the house design itself is the primary cooling/heating system which also incorporates thermal capacity, i.e., the ability to store heating and cooling, in the exterior walls and foundation. The electric powered cooling and heating system is the back-up cooling and heating system, not the primary cooling and heating system.

Other Passive Sustainability design features that assist the performance of the house and greenhouse/workshop are: the calculated roof overhangs and strategically placed shading porches; the window locations (along with their sizes and types) and their placement for cross ventilation and design for natural daylighting; and an air-tight envelope. All of the water supply for the house and the gardens is supplied by the rain water harvesting systems. The owners' intent is to grow all their vegetables and fruits from a kitchen garden (between kitchen and greenhouse) and from fruit trees scattered around the property The gardens along with fruit trees will be able to supply most, if not all, of the owners fruit and vegetables, should this become necessary. Easy accessibility to the gardens from the house is another Passive Sustainability and Permaculture design feature. And the solar water heating system can supply their hot water needs. (Note: A home must be intentionally designed, or redesigned, for Passive Sustainability. It doesn't happen by chance or by addition. And it is not something that can be bought and added on, like an appliance.)

Green Building Features

Atl (water) Water Supply

Tonatl (sun) Water Heating
Solar water heating system with 80 gallon storage
Efficient Energy Performance achieved by

Site Plan (click to enlarge)

Location/Sustainable Sites

Building DurabilityCalli (house)

Durability does not mean just the use of durable materials like stone. Durability must be designed and built into the home so that design features and their correct execution during construction don't contribute to premature aging and failure.

Environmentally Preferred Product Use
(Awarded 3 additional Innovation Design credits beyond the maximum of 8 credits available in the program)

Recycled/Renewable Content

Indoor Air Quality Matters

Construction Waste Reduction

Renewable EnergyTonatl (sun)

Other Features


Building Stats

HouseCalli (house)


Project Location

SW Austin. Site Visits by appointment only (see "Contact Info" below). Also, please ask to be added to list for notification about possible tours.

The Building Team

   Environment Associates, Architects & Consultants

   Houston, Texas
   Fostering Sustainable Living Concepts & Practices since 1975
Austin Energy Green Building Program logo

   Project Architect & Design: LaVerne Williams, AIA, LEED® AP
   Support Team leader: Shawn McFarland, AIA, LEED® AP
   For information, or call 713.528.0000.

Building Contractor:
Austin Energy Green Building Program logo   Custom Building, Inc.

   Austin, Texas
   Owners: Taylor King & Bill Kelley

LEED® for Homes Provider:
   (providing rating services for independent 3rd party verification of rating requirements)
   Contects, Consultants & Architects
   San Antonio, Texas
   LEED-H Project Manager/Rater: Miki Cook

What else makes this home so special?

Aside from the owners loving to live in it, the green features and the artistic touches, its extraordinary comfort, its design for Passive Sustainability and aesthetic appeal, what makes this house so especially significant are the "firsts" that it has achieved:

Contact Info:

Requesting Information and visiting the house

Visiting the house site is by invitation only, except for announced tours.

For information about the project or to receive announcements about possible tours or visits, please call 713.528.0000 or .


Atl Tonati Calli

(Tonalacalli = "House of Sun and Water" in the Nahuatl language of Mexico)

To Construction Photos

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'LEED' and related logo is a trademark owned by the U.S. Green Building Council and is used by permission.