Innovation and Design

Kruger Ranch House


Kruger Family


Marfa, TX

LEED Consultant:

Chip Henderson



Green Rater:

Project Goal:

Kruger Ranch is a live/work complex located in West Texas on the outskirts of Marfa. Designed for a family of 5 from Chicago, the 6,000 square foot ranch house will be a net zero energy project by using a combination of passive solar strategies, a photovoltaic array and rainwater catchment to achieve this ambitious goal. The family’s objective is to make the least possible impact on the site, so a combination of rammed earth building, a closed-loop ground source heat pump for heating and cooling, as well as design and construction methods that will maximize energy and water efficiency standards will be utilized.


After researching solar exposure, location and weather data, it was determined that the home will require a relatively small cooling load and a much higher heating load. Approximately 60 percent of the exterior walls will be rammed earth, with the intention of building thermal mass by allowing more sun to enter the building during the winter, and as little as possible in the summer. To achieve this, one strategy is to tilt the roof slopes up to the south to allow the winter sun to reach deeper into the interior and be absorbed in the floor and walls, thus offsetting heating loads. The southern overhangs will extend at least a minimum of four feet to allow the high summer sun to be fully blocked during the hottest periods of the day.

In addition, site excavation material will be used to construct approximately 60 percent of the exterior walls and then house a matrix of earth tubes that will supply the home with air that has been tempered by passing through wide diameter pipes in the earth, aiding in a constant interior temperature, thereby requiring less energy to heat or cool.

Water will be collected from the roof into an underground 20,000 gallon water cistern for potable needs; gray water will be used for toilets. A full photovoltaic array will be installed for all electricity needs.

The ranch house is located within a conservation easement west of Marfa. The dominant ecosystem of the site is the Plains Grasslands, which supports a diverse group of bird species and well as mammals. Landscaping and plant selection will be sensitive and supportive of the restoration of wintering migratory birds and any new fences will allow for movement of the native Pronghorn Antelope.

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