The beautiful Allandale Neighborhood hosts a wide variety of recreated and renovated single-family homes in close proximity to downtown, making this a standout community in the great city of Austin, TX. This distinct neighborhood is marked by several stunning remodels built by GreenTex; however, there is one in particular found at the residence of 2500 Great Oaks that is quite different. This spectacular revitalized and expanded modern ranch-style home is the first 5-Star AEGB project* under our belts, making it an important milestone for our company!

Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) is the nation’s most successful sustainable building program and the process of designing and building a home adequate to receive an Austin Energy Green Building rating is certainly rigorous and focuses on 5 main categories: energy,water, materials/products, health and safety,and the greater community.

The opportunity to attain such a prestigious recognition was inspired by a vision that homeowners Jon and Nancy Goree shared with the GreenTex team and local architect Chuck Kruger to construct a second story addition to accommodate their growing, environmentally conscious, young family.

With our plans in hand, a vision in mind, and our goals determined, we immediately set up and got to work on removing the front entry way, to later be replaced by this grand entry and front porch shown below.

Along with this new entry, the  1000 sf first floor addition included an expanded living area, a new entertainment room, kitchen, and a covered screened in patio.
The 2nd story addition consists of 1100 sf of new conditioned space including
2 new bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a new game room and loft area.
                                                                                    As Our weekly blog series continues we will take you through all the exceptional features incorporated into the 2500 Great Oaks Renovation that led to our first 5 star AEGB project. As a part of our blog series you will get to live the full renovation experience from the early planning stages all the way through to a completed project.
While we travel through this renovation you will hear exclusive expert advice from various members of our own team as well as from other professionals that played a key role in positioning this renovation well above all others.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks for an in-depth look at how a beautiful, high-performing, and sustainable home takes shape through integrated design and conscientious attention to detail by every member of our team.

Make sure to check for special updates and announcements regarding this exciting new blog series via Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for joining us, and special thanks to our incredible project team and gracious homeowners for their participation in this series.


GreenTex Builders is excited to announce that we will be a part of the upcoming Green by Design event, presented by Austin Energy Green Building.

Need to find the perfect builder or designer for your project?

Want to learn how to effectively asses your families needs in the home?

Looking to make smart material and appliance purchases?

At Green by Design, homeowners will have access to the leading professionals in the green industry and will learn how to improve energy and water efficiency, increase comfort, and reduce maintenance.

This one-day event is packed full with instruction from AEGB professionals, a comprehensive workbook you get to take with you, filled with all the green information and contacts you could dream of. To top it all off, you’ll enjoy breakfast and lunch, personal Q & A with industry pro’s (including us!) and awesome give-aways from local green businesses.

It’s all going down on July 16th at THE COMMONS CENTER. (JJ Pickle Research Campus,10100 Burnet Road, Austin, Texas 78758).

The deadline for registration is July 13, 2011 at 5:00 PM. Click here to register. Cost is $35 and seats are LIMITED, so sign-up now!

This stunning, LEED Platinum and Net-Zero building by Weddle Gilmore Black Rock Studio really sets the tone for the majestic McDowell Sonoran Preserve behind it. Built with the help of 4,200 volunteer hours out of rammed earth and topped with a desert-cobbled roof, the Gateway treads gently and reminds bikers, hikers, and horse-riders to do the same. It also harvests 100% of the water required for landscape irrigation and produces all of the energy it needs to operate. Despite the modest construction so typical of park service buildings, this gateway to desert heaven is definitely easy on the eyes.

Rainwater is harvested and then stored in an underground cistern.

Paying tribute to its location, the Gateway is constructed from rammed earth, although it is every bit as energy efficient and cool as any modern home. Ninety percent of its construction materials were sent to be recycled and its energy is produced with an 18KW solar-energy system. As such, the LEED certified building has a net-zero impact.

The solar panels produce all of the building's required energy, making it a net zero project.

Everybody knows the desert is dry, but it won’t be here. A clever rainwater harvesting system combined with an underground storage cistern will ensure that 100% of the landscaping can be done without undue stress on existing water supplies. Dual-flush toilets and waterless urinals further ensure that the Gateway’s water footprint is kept to a minimum.

Over the past couple of years, the U.S. Army has announced several initiatives ranging from solar-powered tents for troops to hydrogen-powered tanks, however this is their most ambitious program yet. With the help of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the U.S. Army is aiming to have all Army installations across the country be net zero.

With funds from the DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), the “Army Vision for Net Zero” program will aim to meet mandates to reduce energy as a result of Executive Order 13514. The order calls for all new buildings to be net zero energy by 2030, and it dictates a 30 percent reduction in water use and a 50 percent reduction in waste that goes to landfills. On top of that, the National Defense Authorization Act also mandates that the Army produce or acquire 25 percent of its energy from renewables by 2025.

“The first priority is less,” Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy & Environment Katherine Hammack said. “If you use less energy, you don’t have to buy as much – or you don’t have to make as much from alternative energy sources or renewable energy sources. So if you look at energy, that is a focus on energy efficiency. If you’re talking about water, then that’s water conservation. Or even if you’re talking about waste, that’s reducing the amount of waste we have in the steam.”

The program already has a poster child in the form of Fort Bliss. The military base boasts solar daylighting in the dining facility, warehouse and gym, energy-efficient windows, utility monitoring and control for heating and air-conditioning systems in approximately 70 buildings, and plans to increase the on-site hybrid waste-to-energy/concentrating solar power plant from 90 to 140 megawatts. The City of El Paso has committed to provide 1 million tons per year of municipal solid waste, which will be transformed into energy by the base.

“The Army’s net zero vision is a holistic approach to addressing energy, water, and waste at Army installations,” Kingery said. “We look at net zero as a force multiplier for the Army that will help us steward our resources and manage our costs.”

Considering that defense is a massive cause of national debt, the plan serves two purposes – reduced spending and “greening” national security. If the military can get on board with renewable energy, it makes you wonder why other areas of government are having such trouble.

by Timon Singh

Pecan Street Project announced today that it has acquired a site and will soon begin construction of a smart grid interoperability research facility. Researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will lead the programming and technical specification development for the facility, which will be located in Austin’s Mueller community.

Pecan Street Project executives leading the development and operations of the lab are John H. Baker, Jr. and Ariane Beck. Prior to joining Pecan Street Project earlier this year, Mr. Baker was Austin Energy’s chief strategy officer and Dr. Beck was the assistant chair of the University of Texas Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The Home Research Lab will serve as a neutral third-party research facility. Researchers from Pecan Street Project, The University of Texas, NREL, multiple utilities and private sector companies will be able to use the lab for testing and evaluating interoperability industry standards along with testing performance and integration of multiple companies’ home smart grid systems with electricity, gas and water utility distribution and back office systems. Specific technologies that will be tested include electric vehicles, home energy management systems, smart appliances, home storage, rooftop PV and advanced metering. The facility will also include public education programming.

Construction is scheduled to begin in September 2011 and active operations to commence in March 2012. Pecan Street Project has contracted with Austin-based custom homebuilder The Muskin Company to develop the Home Research Lab. Architects for the facility are University of Texas School of Architecture faculty Matthew Fajkus, Ulrich Dangel and Tamie Glass, Department of Architectural and Environmental Engineering professor Atila Novoselac and Austin-based architects Michael Hsu and Kevin Stewart from Michael Hsu Office of Architecture.

Nationally unique features of the Home Research Lab include:

  • The active involvement of Tier 1 research university and national lab researchers from UT and NREL
  • The lab’s neutral third-party position as a facility for multiple utilities and private sector technology companies to work collaboratively in a consortium environment with these university and national lab researchers
  • The opportunity for companies to test their solutions’ interoperability with utility distribution systems and with products from multiple companies
  • Access for University of Texas students to participate in lab research and collaboration
  • The lab’s ability to connect with NREL for ongoing real-time research collaborations between the Austin-based lab and NREL’s Golden, Colorado facilities

Pecan Street Project will build the lab in a three-story live-work unit site across the street from the former Mueller Municipal Airport’s air traffic control tower. The tower, which was preserved after the airport’s decommissioning, has become an iconic structure in the green-built Mueller community.

“This lab will provide an opportunity for University of Texas researchers and students to collaborate with utilities and the best researchers from the private sector on the technologies that will solve our toughest energy, environmental and economic challenges,” said Pecan Street Project executive director Brewster McCracken. “Having the lab’s development led by our partners from NREL, an accomplished, visionary utility executive like John and an outstanding researcher like Ariane ensures that this lab will provide significant value.”

“Our intent is to develop not just a demonstration lab, but a true research and testing facility,” said UT engineering professor and Pecan Street Project board member Dr. Tom Edgar. “This facility will be a unique opportunity for our researchers and the private sector to help shape the future of energy delivery and management.”

“Our researchers at NREL are excited about their involvement with Pecan Street Project,” said NREL senior research engineer Dr. Bill Kramer, who will lead NREL’s work on the research facility. “We see this new home research lab as a way to complement our existing research facilities with real-world performance and utility data.”

NREL’s researchers are part of Pecan Street Project’s customer-focused smart grid demonstration project at Mueller.

“The straightforward simplicity of our overall building design allows for the flexibility of complex laboratory research and simulated living scenarios,” said UT School of Architecture assistant professor Matthew Fajkus. ”The building will be highly sustainable in its capacity for adaptation as well is in its integrated technology and smart grid implications.”

“Here, in one of the country’s most forward-thinking communities, this lab will allow researchers to test some of the most forward-thinking ideas in home design, operation and construction,” said Alan Muskin, president of The Muskin Company. “We look forward to being part of this unique collaboration and to helping bring the future of American homebuilding to this great neighborhood.”

“During my years in the utility industry, I wished we had had access to an outstanding research facility and the opportunity to collaborate with top-flight researchers,” said Pecan Street Project director of utility systems research John Baker. “I am committed to developing a lab that will provide this kind of opportunity not just for Pecan Street Project’s own researchers, but also for UT researchers, innovative companies and utilities from across the country.”

“I know from working with UT research programs how critical a sophisticated, independent research facility is to fact-based applied research,” said Ariane Beck, project manager for Pecan Street Project. “This lab will provide a technically excellent proving ground where utilities, companies, researchers and students can collaborate in a neutral, third-party setting.”

About John H. Baker, Jr.

John Baker joined Austin Energy in 1994. He served in various roles during his tenure, including vice president of customer care and marketing, process manager of system operations and reliability, manager of distribution system support, and manager of distribution engineering and design.  From 2002 until his retirement from Austin Energy in 2010, he served as chief strategy officer, leading the development of the utility’s aggressive long-range renewable energy and energy efficiency goals.

In addition to overseeing the home research lab, Baker will manage the organization’s Industry Advisory Council, a collection of technology and energy companies that are participating in the organization’s smart grid research. He will also serve as the primary liaison for utilities on the organization’s Technical Review and Advisory Committee, which includes ERCOT, Bluebonnet Electric Coop, CPS Energy, Oncor and Pedernales Electric Coop.

About Ariane Beck

Prior to joining Pecan Street Project in 2011 as the organization’s project manager, Dr. Ariane Beck served as the assistant chair of UT’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering. Her work at UT included managing development of lab facilities and space construction, leading the department’s successful accreditation review and managing the day-to-day operations of the university’s sixth largest department (with 66 faculty, 30 staff and 1,900 students).

Dr. Beck holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. Her research accomplishments include designing, fabricating and characterizing wide band gap UV avalanche photodiodes (APDs) in SiC, GaP and AlGaN/GaN material systems for use in biological agent detection and non-line-of-sight communications under the DARPA SUVOS program, and designing processes for recessed window and thin-metal structures to enhance carrier collection efficiency.

About the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

NREL is the Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

About the Smart Grid Demonstration Project at Mueller

In November 2009, the Department of Energy awarded Pecan Street Project, Inc. a $10.4 million regional smart grid demonstration grant to deploy an advanced smart grid project at the Mueller development in central Austin. The Mueller neighborhood – a public-private joint venture between the City of Austin and Catellus Development Group – is located at the site of Austin’s former airport.

The demonstration project will integrate with Austin Energy’s next generation smart grid platform to create, operate, and evaluate an open platform Energy Internet – a type of smart grid that allows two-way electricity and information flow and is modeled on the architecture of the Internet.  Residential and commercial participation in the project is voluntary.

The project will analyze these results against control groups and distribution feeder systems in other locations in the City of Austin to quantify how the integration of these technologies impacts electricity usage and bills, the utility’s finances, environmental outcomes and overall system performance.

In February 2011, the organization completed systems installation and went live with the first phase of its smart grid demonstration project in Austin’s Mueller community.  Deployed by Austin-based Incenergy LLC, the home smart grid systems capture minute-to-minute energy usage for the whole home and six major appliances or systems. The project achieved an installed cost per home of $341 ($241 for equipment plus $100 for installation).

The systems are deployed in 100 homes at Mueller, all of which are green built and 11 of which have rooftop solar PV systems. This spring, Pecan Street Project will deploy Incenergy systems in a second group of 100 homes outside Mueller that are at least 10 years old. All participants in both groups are volunteers.

The data collected from these first 200 homes will provide a baseline against which the organization can compare the impact the technologies and services to be tested will have on energy consumption.

About Pecan Street Project Inc.

Headquartered at The University of Texas at Austin, Pecan Street Project Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) smart grid and clean energy research and development organization.  Incorporated in 2009, the organization’s board includes representatives from The University of Texas, Austin Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, the Austin Technology Incubator, the City of Austin and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

In September 2009, it received funding from the University of Texas and a grant from the Capital Area Council of Governments through an award from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. In November 2009, the organization received a U.S. Department of Energy stimulus award for a Smart Grid Demonstration Project at Austin’s Mueller community. In November 2010, it received an award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to research the impact of energy efficiency retrofits in older homes.

In March 2010, it released a report of recommendations for how to spur energy system advancements. The recommendations were the product of joint industry-university-utility-public sector working groups. For more information or to download the report of recommendations, visit http://www.pecanstreetproject.org.

Posted on April 26, 2011 in In the NewsProject Updates with Tags: 

The American Institute of Architects Select the 2011 COTE Top Ten Green Projects

The 15th annual COTE Top Ten Green Projects program celebrates buildings that not only use few resources but don’t harm their sites, have healthy indoor air quality and connect to public transit.

Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles

This urban infill, mixed-use, market-rate housing project was designed to incorporate green design as a way of marketing a green lifestyle. The design maximizes the opportunities of the mild, Southern California climate with a passive cooling strategy.

First Unitarian Society Meeting House, Madison, Wis.

The 20,000-square-foot addition to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed national historic landmark Meeting House is approximately 40% more efficient than a comparable base case facility. The new building design features recycled-content and locally sourced materials.

Kiowa County K-12 Schools, Greensburg, KS

Greensburg, Kan., a town  nearly flattened by a May 2007 tornado chose a bold strategy in rebuilding their classrooms:  to combine their schools into a single K-12 facility that would align with the town’s sustainable comprehensive master plan. The facilities design optimizes daylighting and natural ventilation in all classrooms, which increases student academic performance/potential and focus.  A 50-kilowatt wind turbine provides a portion of the electricity needs while the remaining power is generated at the wind farm located outside of town.

High Tech High Chula Vista, Chula Vista, Calif.

This public charter school serving 550 students in grades 9-12 with an approach rooted in project-based learning uses a building management system that integrates a weather station and monitors and controls the lighting and mechanical systems of the facilities, in addition to the irrigation and domestic water systems.

LIVESTRONG Foundation, Austin, TX

Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG Foundation in Austin, Texas, which used 88% of the materials from a 1950s warehouse to help build — on the same site — a multi-functional office space for 62 employees. Achieving LEED Gold certification, the project reflects the LiveStrong mission “to inspire and empower people affected by cancer.”

LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Olympia, Wash.

While most sewage treatment plants are invisible to their communities and separated by a chain link fence, the LOTT Clean Water Alliance Regional Service Center is a visible and active participant in the public life of Olympia. …Methane generated from the plant’s waste treatment process is used in a cogeneration plant to generate electricity and heat.

OS House, Racine, WI

Occupying a narrow infill lot in an old city neighborhood at the edge of Lake Michigan, this LEED Platinum home demonstrates how a small residence built with a moderate budget can become a confident, new urban constituent. Taking advantage of the lake breeze and the site’s solar exposure, outdoor rooms were created to reduce the house’s depth, allowing for maximum natural cross-ventilation and daylight to wash the inside.

RSF at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, Colo.

With the goal of creating the largest commercial net-zero energy structure in the country, the building is meant to serve as a blueprint for a net-zero energy future and influence others in the building industry to pursue low energy and net-zero energy performance.

Step Up on 5th, Santa Monica, Calif.

This mixed-use project provides 46 studio apartments of permanent affordable housing and supportive services for the homeless and mentally disabled population in the heart of downtown Santa Monica. The density of the project is 258 dwelling units/acre, which exceeds the average density of the Manhattan borough of New York City by more than 10%.

Vancouver Convention Centre West, Vancouver, British Columbia

As the world’s first LEED Platinum convention center, this project is designed to bring together the complex ecology, vibrant local culture and urban environment, embellishing their inter-relationships through architectural form and materiality. The living roof — at 6 acres it is the largest in Canada — hosts some 400,000 indigenous plants.

By Matt Tinder

Here’s a bit of ironic news: the U.S. Postal Service — the organization that creates tons of emissions by flying and driving packages all over the country — is releasing a series of stamps to teach the population about the importance of lowering their carbon footprint. The Go Green stamps feature 16 actions that show consumers ways they can make a positive impact on the environment. If you are a collector of philatelic products, they can now be ordered online at usps.com/green.

The Go Green collection was announced by the Deputy Postmaster General at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School, which is located a few steps from the largest garden in the Washington D.C. “We’re creating a culture of conservation at the Postal Service that will have a lasting impact in our workplace and our communities,” said Ronald A. Stroman. “The Go Green stamps carry 16 simple, green messages that have the power to help make the world a better place for us and future generations.”

“With these Go Green stamps, the Postal Service is reminding us of the important steps we can take each day to have an impact on the world around us,” said Jackson. “These stamps demonstrate individual actions — from saving energy or water to reducing waste — that add up to a big difference for our health and our environment.”

Despite the large amount of paper that is used by the company, the USPS is the only mailing and shipping company in the world whose stamp products and shipping supplies have earned Cradle to Cradle Certification, meaning they meet established standards for human and environmental health and recyclability. The USPS has tried to be as environmentally friendly as possible since 1999, when it tested the first electric vehicle in Buffalo, NY. Today, the agency operates more than 44,000 alternative fuel-capable mail delivery vehicles across the country, including cars and vans that run on ethanol, biodiesel, compressed natural gas and electricity. Since 2005, the USPS has increased its use of alternative fuels 133 percent, and since 2003, has reduced energy use at its facilities by 28 percent.

by Timon Singh

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