Leed Certification

Ella Garrett's House


Central Dallas Ministries


Dallas, TX

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Green Rater:

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June was the hardest for Garrett, who left her home of 34 years -- "a little shack," she says -- and watched from next door as it was demolished, then had a stroke she says nearly killed her. She spent the rest of the summer living next door, recovering from her stroke as volunteers built an ultra-modern, energy-efficient home where her old one once stood. Garrett told architect Brent Brown and project leader Benje Feehan that she wanted a screened-in porch, and helped pick out the features in her new kitchen. The boldest feature on her new house -- the bright red metal stairway jutting out on one side -- wasn't her idea, she said, but she likes it. "Everybody was looking out for me," Garrett says. "I told them I could be patient. I've been patient all my life."


The Congo Street Green Initiative serves as a model for sustainable projects demonstrating that green design can be affordable for all communities. By keeping neighbors in their own neighborhood, it retains social cohesion, makes use of the existing physical infrastructure, and benefits the current residents of the neighborhood, not some hypothetical new residents.

Each house is different, says project leader Benje Feehan, depending on the unique needs of each homeowner. As a homeowner, he says, "there's certain social pressures where you think, well, I want a 2,500 square-foot brick house," but the project ultimately was about the most efficient way to meet the owner's needs. Garrett's house, he says, is probably the most energy-efficient of all the new homes.

Winner of the AIA/HUD Secretary Award for 2010 in the category of Community-Informed Design, it’s the first promising new idea to revitalize distressed urban neighborhoods in many years.

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