The Sustainable Design Center

Bio-regionally Appropriate Architecture Collaboration and Planning for a Cleaner, Healthier Planet

Small Residence

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Firm: Benjamin C. Obregon Architect

Project Status: Project completed in September 2008

Owner Quotes on monthly elect cost and value

The first month in the house after the array was turned on we had lots of sun and mild temperatures and our first electrical bill was $1.86. I scanned the bill so I’d have it. Of course today the array isn’t doing anything, but still it’s supplied about 66% of our total use since we turned it on.
Just got our utility bill from the city. Our net electricity usage for the month was zero kilowatt hours. A couple less cloudy days and we would have been deeply negative.
The house is a custom-designed 5-star rated luxury home (highest rating by Austin Energy). If you have any doubts on whether this green building stuff really works; our most recent electricity bill was $5.43. Many of you have been to our house, but for those who have not, it’s a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath with 2415 sq ft, plus Catherine’s studio above the garage, another 555 square feet


Hey Ben, it’s Tom Small . I thought I’d let you know, if you ever think good architecture and good design isn’t worth something, we have 2 couples having a bidding war on the house, which of course, is unheard of in this economy. They have managed to bump each other up $35,000.00 so far, which is considerable over the asking price and, you just never know, sometimes you get lucky, so Thank You Ben.

Project Description: 2,416 s.f. 2 story home with a 550.00 s.f. artist studio. The buildings are designed and oriented to provide privacy from the street. In addition the building massing helps funnel breezes to the home’s windows. As you enter the covered walkway and pass the garage/art studio, the interior courtyard opens up before you. Screened and covered porches as well as the upstairs balcony enhance indoor-outdoor living. Casement windows with operable transoms provide flow through ventilation and help exhaust heat. A high efficiency HVAC system with insulated ductwork provides interior climate control. The building’s energy envelope is completed by 2X6 studs w/R-19 insulation, a snap lock metal roof over a radiant barrier and R-30 roof insulation. The second floor and roof are constructed of pre-engineered trusses. The first floor has stained concrete floors and the second floor has bamboo. The owners have reported a net negative energy useage on sunny days since the photovoltaic array has been turned on. This home achieved a 5 star rating on the City of Austin Green Building Rating System.