Building Innovation for Homeownership
Award Winners: Texas

PROJECT: Esperanza del Sol, Dallas, Texas

SUBMITTER: Barbara Harwood, BBH Enterprises, Inc., Carrollton, Texas

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Esperanza del Sol ("hope of the sun")is an on-going project of twelve energy-efficient, single-family detached homes on an infill site in downtown Dallas. The two-story, three-bedroom, 1273 square-foot homes face each other across a green courtyard, with driveways, parking, and road on the opposite side. The homes are priced at $79,999, well below the median for the area. Geothermal heat pumps provide quality heating and cooling for a builder-guaranteed cost of less than $1 per day, and free hot water for about eight months. Reduced flow plumbing fixtures save on water costs. The homes use 2 x 6-inch, 24-inch on-center optimal value engineered (OVE) framing with 6-inches of cellulose insulation. Extensive caulking, sealing, and gasketing provide maximum air tightness. Floor trusses serve as a plenum for air distribution. Mechanical ventilation controls air pressure differences throughout the year. Passive solar exposure is maximized through house and window placement, thermal mass flooring under south-facing windows, and light stucco exteriors.

Esperanza del Sol homes are priced at $79,900 and are eligible for energy efficient mortgages. Families earning as little as $24,000/year can qualify.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Barbara Harwood, President, BBH Enterprises, Inc., Carrollton, TX; TU Electric (paid for cost of drilling for geothermal system); Edison Electric Institute (developed plans after professional consultations).


PROJECT: Subdivision Muniz, Edinburg, Texas (a Colonias project)

SUBMITTER: Daniel Adams, Associate Director, La Frontera Initiative, Habitat for Humanity International and David Omick, Director, Proyecto Fe y Esperanza

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), through its La Frontera Initiative, partnered with Proyecto Fe y Esperanza, a local non-profit specializing in appropriate technologies, and with colonia residents, to develop single family detached homes to help address the housing and other needs in South Texas colonias. Colonias are unincorporated U.S. rural subdivisions that lack infrastructure and decent housing. The Subdivision Muniz homes offer buyers a small (average 750 square foot), decent, comfortable, healthy, low-cost, low-maintenance home. Every effort was used to reduce effects of the hot sun on the homes, an important consideration in the hot, humid climate. The homes have a white plaster exterior for greater solar reflectivity and are sited and designed to maximize natural ventilation. Surface bonded dry-stacked concrete block walls ensure durability, low maintenance, termite and fire resistance, and easy construction. The scored and stained concrete slab provides an inexpensive, functional floor surface. A solar water heater and rainwater catchment system are option. East-West orientation allows for future installation of photovoltaic panels. Separate gray water/black water waste treatment for water reuse and cost savings will be installed pending local approval.

Average price of homes in Subdivision Muniz is $13,500, the cost of materials and contracted labor. Simple construction methods encourage the participation of local unskilled laborers, who can both learn a skill and receive an income while employed on the project. Habitat for Humanity Exodus is fully funded for the construction of 13 homes in Subdivision Muniz. House payments will enter a rotating fund to finance the construction of additional homes.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI); La Frontera Initiative (a special program of HFHI formed to respond to unique issues along the U.S./Mexico border); David Omick, Proyecto Fe y Esperanza (designer of the home)


PROJECT: Wood Glen, Houston, Texas (Habitat)

SUBMITTER: Malcolm Verdict, Alliance to Save Energy, Washington, DC

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: In Houston's hot and humid climate it is not unusual for low- come families to pay utilities equal to 50 percent or more of their housing payments in older inefficient homes. To reverse that trend, Houston Habitat for Humanity is constructing homes in the Wood Glen subdivision designed to achieve a high level of energy and resource efficiency. The three- and four-bedroom, 1,000-1,3000 square-foot homes are sited, shaded, and landscaped to minimize solar gain. They include high efficiency heating and cooling equipment, air infiltration controls, programmable thermostats, increased levels of insulation, improved HVAC duct design with mastic sealant, and energy-efficient lighting. Water- saving plumbing fixtures, resource-efficient building materials, and wood waste-minimization framing techniques further contribute to resource conservation. Buyers of the Wood Glen homes should expect an annual savings of $264 or 9 percent compared to Houston Habitat homes without the energy-efficient features. Wood Glen Habitat homes are priced at approximately $42,000, approximately 36 percent of the median for new homes in Houston. The average annual income of Houston Habitat's clientele is $14,000 for a family of five.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Reverend E. Michael Shirl, Houston Habitat for Humanity; Houston Lighting and Power Company: Emerald Homes; Alliance to Save Energy, Washington, D.C.; Florida Solar Energy Center; National Association of Home Builders Standing Committee on Energy; Texas State Energy Conservation Office; U.S.Department of Energy; U.S.Environmental Protection Agency; and services, materials, and appliance donators.


PROJECT: Chimney Rock Estates, Weatherford, Texas

SUBMITTER: Wayne Bryant, Weatherford Commercial Builders, Weatherford, Texas

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: This development contains 43 homes on a suburban layout, with easy access to Dallas and Ft. Worth. The 1,350-square-foot homes are being offered for an average of $79,500, significantly below the $121,000 median new home price for the area. This is being accomplished with no subsidy or public funding. The homes are constructed of structural insulated panels (SIPs) with expanded polystyrene cores for all exterior walls and the roof, with infill partitions of steel framing. This combination of technologies is mutually supportive: SIPs provide added insulation were it is most needed--in the building envelope-- while the economy and quality of steel studs are exploited for interior partitions where thermal performance is not an issue. This combination of technologies results in a house that will reduce operating costs related to energy by 40% to 50%. SIPs can be precut and sent to the site for quick erection. They also help to deaden noise from exterior sources and add to the wall�s fire resistance. Brick exteriors provide durable materials for low maintenance costs.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Wayne Bryant, Weatherford Commercial Builders (builder).


PROJECT: Coliseum Oaks, San Antonio, Texas

SUBMITTER: Doug Brown, Greater San Antonio Builders Association, San Antonio, Texas

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Coliseum Oaks is a new neighborhood of single-family homes, created to provide a safe, attractive community on San Antonio�s east side. The partners who made this project happen--including the Greater San Antonio Builders Association, the city, the nonprofit Christ is Our Savior Foundation, and others--worked together to assemble land, build the homes within three months, arrange for financing, and present the results in a three-day �Parade of Homes� that attracted more than 1,000 visitors who viewed 16 first- phase homes priced from $38,500 to $60,000. Forty-five of the 59 homes planned for the community have been built. Working together, a variety of local builders constructed single- family homes with a range of technologies: modular, steel studs, concrete-reinforced insulation, fiber-cement siding. A home using foam insulation with concrete reinforcement was able to achieve R-45 walls and ceilings. There was a range of support for Coliseum Oaks, including the city�s donation of foreclosed sites, $20,000 per house subsidy by the Christ is our Savior Foundation, interest-free 20-year mortgages, and HUD community development block grants. Another development similar to Coliseum Oaks, including a Parade of Homes, is being planned for another San Antonio neighborhood.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Greater San Antonio Builders Association; City of San Antonio (developer); San Antonio Housing Trust; US Department of Housing and Urban Development (San Antonio office); Fannie Mae; San Antonio Board of Realtors; Christ is Our Salvation Foundation (nonprofit); Coliseum/Willow park Neighborhood Association; San Antonio Mortgage Bankers Association.


PROJECT: Oak Ridge Village, San Antonio Texas

SUBMITTER: Medallion Built Homes Inc., San Antonio Texas

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Oak Ridge Village is a development of approximately 200 homes located north of San Antonio, Texas. Medallion, one of five original builders in the development, is now the exclusive builder due to the company's high quality and attention to detail. Of the twelve homes Medallion built, the most popular model is a 1,692 square-foot three- bedroom model selling for $97,000. Sixty-five developed lots are ready for construction.

Medallion uses wood products to increase housing quality and better utilize lumber supplies. Innovative materials include engineered wood I-beams and finger-jointed studs which join shorter wood pieces to create a higher-quality dimensional lumber product in long lengths.

All Medallion Homes are built to the requirements of the Good Cents Environmental Home program which features energy efficiency and environmental considerations promoting good use of natural resources, such as low VOC paints and adhesives and recycled materials. This program allows homeowners to reduce closing costs, obtain lower interest mortgages, and increase the debt to income ratio.

Xeriscape landscaping is featured in all Medallion projects. This landscaping uses indigenous plants to reduce water requirements as well as costs. Medallion is also introducing a Green for Green program with rebates available up to $300 for additional landscaping installed by the homeowner within 4 months of closing.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Medallion Built Homes Inc. (builder), City Public Service "Good Cents Environmental Home" (electric utility), San Antonio Water System (water utility)


PROJECT: Hillside Oaks, Dallas, Texas

SUBMITTER: Mark Malone, Energy Wise, Dallas, Texas

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: A development in suburban Dallas of 184 houses, Hillside Oaks is innovative in its use of highly energy efficient building technology and cost-saving mechanical systems. The houses are offered for $72,000, which is .59 of the median price for new housing construction in the Dallas area. The homes are constructed of structural insulated panels (SIPs) which increases their insulative qualities and reduces erection time by at least half compared to site-built construction. Combined with the highly efficient building envelopes, these homes will be heated and cooled with geothermal pumps that use the steady temperature of the ground to transfer excess heat and cold. Geothermal heat pumps can be run more efficiently and for lower cost than conventional heaters and air-conditioning. Because of their energy-saving features, which make them 30% more efficient than code- compliant houses, these homes qualify for an Energy Star designation. The City of Dallas and the Enterprise Foundation offer down payment assistance funds for this development, and the city is working with local lenders to provide homebuyers with low-cost mortgages.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Energy Wise Energy Management Systems (SIPs manufacturer and geothermal heat pump distributor); Carl Franklin Homes, Inc.; JFP Contracting Services; Bluebonnet Federal Savings Bank, Bluebonnet Home Mortgage Company (financing); Payless Cashways (materials).


Content Archived: January 20, 2009