KRDB, the architects of the Sol community in East Austin, utilized creative solutions to design homes that address multiple facets of sustainability. Affordability is innate in the Zero-Net Energy homes; the carefully considered designs reduced initial costs, and utility costs are lessened due to their energy efficiency achieved through some unexpected methods listed below.
- Highly energy efficient windows that are placed primarily on the North and South facades of the homes to nearly diminish direct solar heat gain;
- Two by six exterior frame construction to allow for more insulation;
- Spray-in insulation;
- Geothermal HVAC system that off puts hot water that can be used in the homes;
- And polycrystalline photovoltaic arrays installed on every roof.
The designers of the Sol community have taken a holistic approach not seen in other “green” communities around Austin. While master planned neighborhoods, such as Mueller, utilize more non-toxic and recyclable regional materials to reach their sustainability goals I am most impressed with KRDB’s inclusion of the features listed above, in addition to more environmentally responsible materials. However, other communities around Austin, such as Mueller, Midtown Commons at Crestview Station, and the Triangles, all include one major element that Sol lacks - access to alternative transportation. This is a foreseen environmental challenge of this community because it is located a good distance away from the city centre and will require residents to travel by car to all their destinations.
What are some solutions to link such a community to the rest of the city?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.