Photography by Miro Dvorscak

Leed Certification
Energy and Atmosphere





Houston, TX

LEED Consultant:

Chip Henderson

Green Rater:

Project Goal:

The owners Rick Wilson and Therese Coucher originally wanted to buy and restore a loft or warehouse in downtown Houston but couldn’t find one to suit them. So, they began thinking Outside the Loop. The wooded lot they found just South of Loop 610 seemed perfect. A former cow pasture left dormant for 25 years, the acreage is thick with nonnative Chinese tallow trees. “But there’s a nice understory of native oaks and mulberries,” says Therese, a master gardener who plans to restore the land as a natural garden full of native plants. The location, a straight shot down Main St. from central Houston, is convenient to Rice University where Rick is chair of the political science department. Long committed to saving energy and natural resources, he has been commuting to work on a bicycle since 1974. When he and his wife Therese decided to build on the lot, they began searching for an architect who could design a reasonably affordable energy-efficient, earthfriendly home for them. “It would be criminal to build a house that wasn’t energy efficient, given that energy costs will skyrocket in our lifetimes,” Rick says.


They interviewed four architects and chose Houston architect LaVerne Williams, AIA, a pioneer of green-building who has been building environmentally friendly “green” houses for more than three decades. The loft, painted emerald to blend with the trees, is green both literally and figuratively. In its construction, every effort was made to minimize waste during the building of the home. All materials used were carefully considered for their impact on the environment.

The 3200 SF home built on a tight budget is designed to be a net energy producer with the addition of PV solar system, only it has an interior volume equal to that of a 5800 sf conventionally built home having 9ft ceilings. Yet the yearly energy bill averaged only $102.00/month (July15th, 2008 through July 15th, 2009) and their energy bill for the hottest 30 days ever on record in Houston was only $137.00 (June 15th thru July 15th, 2009). The project achieved LEED Silver certification in February of 2010.

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