A sketch of the driveway approach to this home
A sketch of the pond side view of this home
The north side and the south side of this home

Pell City, Alabama

What was needed:
These clients believed that it was their moral responsibility to build green. They wanted a home that was healthy, energy efficient, that preserved their beautiful property, and caused less damage to the planet. They took classes on green building before they even met me. But these clients were also artisitic. She worked with ceramics and glass, and he was a professor of music. They needed a home that was artistic.

Looking southeast toward the lake Looking south toward the lake Looking southwest toward the lake
A view from the building site of the private, wooded lake

The first step:
Visiting the site, I could see their desire for privacy. They had already chosen an excellant spot for their home, a south facing slope looking over a small private lake in the woods. The slope was just right to provide good access to both levels while allowing for two levels of glass on the south side.

They loved my first design. To protect their privacy, I placed the bedrooms away from the driveway. Guests first see the private, windowless, west side of the house, no glass to let in the central Alabama afternoon sun. Next they would see the carport with an informal entry. Further to the left is the ceramic studio, separated from the house by the carport to keep heat and the risk of fire away from the house. But this area was convenient to the main level of the house, right across the carport. I planned for the studio walls to be partially buried with ground to help dissipate the oven's heat, while keeping it warm in the winter.

A hip roof with large overhangs together with porches on the southwest and east sides protect the walls from the hot Alabama summer sun. Two levels of glass face the south to absorb the winter sun. Insulated concrete walls and floors absorb the sun's heat and store it for cold winter nights, radiating this stored heat into the house.

A surprise came up while the house was being planned. The wife was expecting a baby. Could we add a nursery to the house without raising the budget? This was a challenge that required giving up some other features, but it was met. There is a nursery next to the master suite.

An artistic ceramic countertop made for the house
The client's artwork, a countertop for the house

So, how did this project turn out? The clients took this plan back to the place
they took classes to have an engineer analyze its energy efficiency. This
engineer specializes in passive solar design, and he said that this one house
already included almost everything he ever recommends. I received an email
from the client that said:

"Hi, Richard:
I hope the new year has been good to you so far. We attended the design review at Southface this week and were reminded of what an outstanding job you've done. Our reviewer was really impressed. Now we need to provide some specific information in order for them to do a load calculation and duct design. They need us to complete the attached specification form. Some of the information is yet to be determined, but we thought you would know the insulation and window information better than we do at this point. Would you mind looking at the form and providing the known or supposed information?
Thanks very much......"

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