Design Oklahoma Fall 13

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IN ORDINARY SPEECH, the words “sustainable” and “beauty” hardly belong in the same sentence – as attributes go, beauty is probably the most fleeting. For Jim Roth’s Oklahoma City home, however, the words “sustainable” and “beauty” took on an inspired context when the environment served as the focus for home construction and design. The concept of a “green” house isn’t a new one, but few homeowners embrace the idea as completely as Jim did during the two years he and architect Jay Yowell (of JY Architecture) devoted to conceptualizing the space and its relationship to its surroundings. In this case, that encompasses more than eight densely forested acres, secluded within city limits. The entire home relies on sustainable features for energy efficiency and environmentally friendly materials. This represents a larger investment during the construction phase, but the payoff – in reduced electric, water and septic consumption – is immediate. Jim estimates that his average electric bill for the 3,000-square-foot home is about $150. “Building an energy-efficient home really represents a paradigm shift for Americans. The tradeoff is investing in the home’s infrastructure versus excessive square footage and high electric consumption,” he explains, acknowledging that many homeowners will opt not to do that because of their growing tendency to move from house to house, rather than putting down roots. Contributing to the geothermal efficiency of Jim’s home are its LEEDcertified, commercial-grade roof from Red River Roofing, with a rubberized membrane to reflect most heat gain and its incredibly efficient, insulated concrete-formed (ICF) walls, consisting of 6" of pour-in-place concrete and 2.5" of Styrofoam on either side, for a total thickness of 11" and an efficiency rating of R55, versus the R18 ratings in most homes. Additionally, an onsite, fresh water well supplies all the home’s water needs, while six deep geothermal wells and a closed-loop system (from Climate Master GeoThermal) provide year-round air comfort more efficiently than a traditional, electric forced-air HVAC, reducing energy loss significantly. The same consideration to energy loss was given to the home’s windows, which were configured to minimize western exposure and to maximize heat gain during winter months. Taking the principle a step further, a steel and glass awning installed along the home’s southern windows prevents excessive solar gain in the summer, while allowing passive solar gain during winter months, when the sun is lower on the horizon. Beyond the material and mechanical comforts of the U-shaped home, purposefully incorporated native plants, grasses and trees tie into the landscape design. Floor-to-ceiling windows create a harmonious relationship between the indoor living space and the surrounding nature, framing each perspective like a piece of art. “I love the topography of the land,” Jim says. “We took that into consideration when we planned how the house would be oriented on the lot,” he adds, noting that he’d envisioned a mid-century modern home, ensconced in a natural setting, reminiscent of Hollywood Hills. The elegant manifestation of that vision is the very definition of sustainable beauty. 12 DESIGNOKLAHOMA | FALL 2013