The simple, utilitarian lines of the trim carpentry as evidenced in the bookcases, mantels, kitchen cabinets, window and door casements and open shelving in the kitchen — all painted bright white — contribute significantly to the open, light-filled feeling of the first floor. Additionally, some existing rooms, like the dining room, which were once closed off, are now opened to more spaces, including the outdoors. Two full-lite doors adjacent to the fireplace in the dining room open onto a sleek deck. (Cleverly, the reverse side of the dining room fireplace uses the same chimney chase to accommodate an outdoor fireplace located on the deck under the wide eaves of the soaring gable.)
Other unique interior touches include the first-floor wall coverings. Specifically, there are no coverings. Most of the older homes in the area have interior walls constructed of horizontal “shiplap” covered with fabric. On the walls of the front section of the first floor, this shiplap was exposed and painted to effect a casual, comfortable feeling.
“At some point in its life, the walls in the existing home got the fabric removed and sheetrock put up. When we pulled the sheetrock off, we discovered, not to our surprise, that we had all of this shiplap. So we decided, let’s just keep it and repaint it,” notes Webber. “The only concern with using it was the client wanted to use board-and-batten panels upstairs. Board and batten is actually more finished looking than the shiplap. So there was this concern that the horizontal shiplap might look a little bit rough for the main part of the house. In the end, I think it looks fine. Both of them look beautiful.”
Oak floors, reclaimed from the demolition of a nearby home, were installed, sanded and stained for a result that is as good, or better, than new hardwood flooring. This was among the many aspects of the project that earned it an Austin Energy Green Building five-star certification.
Green and Sustainable
One of the nation’s oldest and most established local green building programs is the Austin Energy Green Building program. The program traces its history back to the city’s first embrace of the Energy Star program in 1985. In 1991, it became the green building program, and in 1992 the first Sustainable Building Sourcebook was written by the green building program staff. Today, remodeled or new construction homes can qualify for certification of one to five stars by adhering to energy efficiency and sustainability guidelines published in a 61-page document. (To download a copy of the document, go to www.austinenergy.com.)
Under this program, the Webber redesign qualified for its highest rating — five stars, based on success in several areas.
Primarily, the home uses highly efficient, argon-filled, Low-E windows and doors. The enameled metal roof is highly reflective and scores energy-efficiency points because it dissipates heat quickly after sunset. This allows the entire house to cool more quickly. The roof is also vented at the roof peak and along the eaves at the bottom. The venting is made possible by screeds that anchor the metal roof to the wooden roof deck, allowing the entire roof to float with an extra pocket of air in between. And, among other things, the home is equipped with solar panels that defray energy use. For a fuller list of the home’s green building features, see the sidebar, right.
Local green building programs often vary on the relative merits of green, energy-efficiency and sustainable characteristics. In Austin, a long-standing partnership with Habitat for Humanity has emerged as an important vehicle for demolition, sorting of recyclable materials and in some cases the reuse of materials in other Habitat for Humanity homes.
Achieving Five-Star Green certification in Austin
- Remodel and addition (versus new house)
- Habitat for Humanity recycled old materials and appliances during deconstruction
- Inner-city neighborhood near parks, schools, shops and amenities, and offices
- 3.2-kw solar panels on the roof
- Tankless water heaters, hot water on-demand system
- Metal roof (has longevity and is reflective of heat)
- Air-conditioning system that is highly efficient and has a dehumidification component as well as a cooling component
- Vapor barrier system that reduces the air vapor infiltration (works in conjunction with the air-conditioning system) and blown in foam insulation, Icynene in crawl space, walls, rafters.
- Passive heating/cooling using cross ventilation (room layout and window locations)
- Insulated glass, Low-E (argon-gas filled) windows
- Re-used materials from existing cabinets, lighting fixtures, hardware (in some cases, not all)
- Use of salvaged materials from salvage shops: some doors
- Re-used existing interior shiplap (for walls) in new work.
- Low-VOC paints throughout (except manufactured cabinets)
- All Energy-Star appliances
- Fluorescent lighting fixtures
- Fiber cement exterior panel siding