As pleased as he is with the project’s outcome, Williams has his sights set even higher. “We’ve got to go beyond green, and beyond sustainable, to regenerative architecture,” he says.
Cheryl Weber is a freelance writer in Lancaster, Pa.
PROFILE:LaVerne Williams, AIA, LEED AP
LaVerne Williams takes a purist’s approach to sustainable building. In fact, he insists on using the term green to describe current projects, because it more accurately portrays an industry in transition. “I refuse to call projects ‘sustainable’ as long as fossil fuels are involved in the making and operation of buildings,” he says. “We’re in such a dire situation with climate change that we need to get our terms straight. As long as we mislead the public, the hard choices about true sustainability are not going to be made.”
Williams’ conservation ethic was instilled early in his life by his parents and community activities. He later spent 10 years learning the nuts and bolts of construction while working his way through the University of Houston’s architecture program. By 1975 he had launched the architecture firm Environment Associates, and a year later helped found the Texas Solar Energy Society and the Houston Solar Energy Society (now called Houston Renewable Energy Group).
Yet the Tonalacalli house is Williams’ first commission to include photovoltaics, a fact that reflects his focus first on passive solar design and energy conservation as the highest priorities, before adding PVs or active solar system features.
“Our work is about quality of life and looking at things holistically,” he says.
A Vermont Castings DutchWest catalytic cast-iron wood stove (model 2460) contributes to heating needs and has a low EPA emissions rating of 1.1 grams per hour. The adobe hearth was crafted by ThangMaker Construction. Vermont Castings: 800.525.1898. www.vermontcastings.com ThangMaker: 512.517.9272. www.thangmaker.com