Leed Certification
Sustainable Sites

Hacienda Ja Ja


Gilson Riecken


San Antonio, TX

LEED Consultant:

Chip Henderson


Green Rater:

Project Goal:

Hacienda Ja Ja is a residence for a professional couple moving back to Texas from San Francisco. The clients wanted a sustainable, modestly sized home that allows for entertaining guests and to display their art collection. This residence was designed to fit the unique scale of the neighborhood and minimize its impact on the natural environment. Nestled beneath the canopy of the live oaks, the scale of the home makes it a natural partner with its neighbors and the porches allow the residents to engage with activity on the street. The house is designed to have office space so that the homeowners can work from home. Their love of preparing large meals for friends resulted in the creation of open living, dining and kitchen areas that are linked to outdoor living spaces that are centered on a heritage live oak tree. The compact footprint of the home was defined by the desire to preserve and protect the existing live oaks on the property. The house is built around a central courtyard that maximizes cross ventilation and day lighting in the bedroom and living space. The entrance to the house is on axis with this courtyard. A low entry hall opens up to the high, day lit ceilings of the living spaces north of the entry. The three-bedroom, two-bath wing is to the south of the entry hall. The bedroom spaces incorporate the same day lighting and cross ventilation strategies as the living spaces with the goal of reducing the need for electrical lighting and air conditioning


The home is designed to avoid solar thermal gain during the summer and capture passive solar heating during the winter. These features, along with the use of expanding foam insulation, minimize the need for mechanical heating and cooling. The carbon footprint is further reduced with the use of a 7 kilowatt-hour photovoltaic array to produce electricity and solar thermal panels to provide domestic hot water. The design relies on a variety of low embodied energy and recycled building materials such as locally harvested, naturally durable cedar siding, cork flooring, and fly-ash concrete. Rainwater is collected from the roofs and stored in an underground tank. During most of the year, captured rainwater will supplant domestic water for landscape irrigation needs.

The solar thermal water heating system is particularly innovative in that it is a newer, evacuated tube technology that is not currently used in many residential projects. The hard water of our region does not affect the evacuated tube system; therefore, it is a durable, long-term solution for heating water and has a relatively quick payback when compared to the solar photovoltaics. The system is backed up with an electric hot water heater.

Reducing the energy consumption required to occupy the residence by employing both passive and active strategies was a major project goal. To verify that these goals were being met, the clients chose to seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes Platinum Certification, the highest level of certification provided by the U.S. Green Building Council.

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