This article is part of a continuing series on sustainable remodeling projects from across the country.

This house in a historic district in Austin, Texas, was deconstructed, modernized, and enlarged from a blocky 1950s duplex into an energy- and water-conserving contemporary showpiece, thanks to local architecture firm Alterstudio Architects

Located in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood, the renovated structure encompasses the original home’s brick façade and steel casement windows along with a new ipe-clad second story. The well-insulated building shell boasts Energy Star-rated windows, a rainscreen, insulation that exceeds the Austin energy code, and abundant air sealing. Other sustainable touches include a ground-source heat pump, plentiful daylighting and cross ventilation, and Austin Water Conservation-certified toilets.

Inside, the renovation added two bedrooms upstairs and opened up first-floor living spaces. Two double-height areas increase the sense of space and invite light deep into the center of the house, says Alterstudio partner Kevin Alter. The sense of openness continues up the steel staircase into loft family room contained by glass rails. Even in the master bathroom, careful detailing connects the shower and vanities though partially obscured glass and allows natural light from the shower skylight to filter through to the interior space.

“In an area of town where the houses are all made up of a collection of small rooms, entering into this home is radically different,” Alter says.  “The house is now spatially open and dynamic, with sight lines going all the way through, and up into two double-height spaces, all filled with natural light.”

Other sustainable features include:

--SFI-certified engineered lumber.

--low- and zero-VOC paint.

--mechanical systems and ductwork that is located within the  thermal enclosure.

--a high-efficiency HVAC filter.

--bathroom exhaust fans connected to a timer or humidistat.

--a rainwater-harvesting system that redirects roof runoff to a catchment system.

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