It’s one thing to design a healthy house, another to have a client use it as a research project for a book. The team and the client, a professor of environmental health at the University of Texas at Austin, surveyed the ingredients of every material specified to make sure it was toxin-free. “Some of the chemicals on our ‘no’ list aren’t required to be published,” says architect Philip Keil. “When companies weren’t forthcoming, we moved on to other products.”
Underpinning the project’s healthy-home scheme are an optimal east-west axis, multiple patios and screened porches, and existing trees that shade the south-facing façade. And among the products that got the green light were Owens Corning EnergyComplete insulation and air sealing, formaldehyde-free Huber Blue sheathing, and CARB-compliant cabinets. Other savvy moves—a geothermal heat pump, energy recovery ventilator, and high-efficiency lighting—lifted the project to an Austin Energy Green Building 5-Star rating. The judges approved, too. “It’s a contemporary take on Texas and creates marvelous outdoor spaces,” one commented.