Announcing VISION House Austin: Designed for Resilience

Announcing VISION House Austin: Designed for Resilience

The climate is changing. We must design accordingly.

2023 was the hottest year on record. El Niño is making 2024 another scorcher, triggering extreme temperatures, crippling drought, unprecedented tornado activity, massive superstorms, and raging wildfires. 

As temperatures rise, cities that suffer from the heat island effect—resulting from oceans of impermeable asphalt, concrete, steel, and other heat-absorbing materials—are becoming intolerable, impacting the health, wellness, and quality of life for inhabitants. 

Many cities are responding by adopting climate-responsive design practices to manage the intense heat, while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions and enhancing resiliency.  

Buildings and cityscapes are being covered with trees, vegetation, and shade structures to protect sidewalks and streets. Reflective glass is being used to block the sun, and “urban canyons” are being designed to align buildings with sunlight and wind direction in order to provide shade, increase airflow, and keep pedestrian areas cool.

For homes, climate-resilient design elements like proper orientation, overhangs, shade structures, and landscaping are being deployed to reduce solar gain, along with passive cooling systems that use pressure differences within a structure to increase natural ventilation and circulate cool air. Window films and reflective surfaces on roofs, walls, and hardscapes are also being specified to keep interior and exterior spaces cool.

VISION House Austin

The latest project in Green Builder Media’s VISION House demonstration project series, the VISION House Austin, has been designed for optimal climate responsiveness.  

VISION House Austin parallax image

The home, meticulously designed by internationally renowned architect Peter Pfeiffer and his Austin-based Barley|Pfeiffer Architecture team, uses passive solar design to respond to sun angles and prevailing breezes to maintain a comfortable indoor environment.  

The intelligent design enhances energy efficiency by reducing the heating and cooling load; resilient materials increase the home’s ability to withstand nature’s fury; and an integrated solar + battery storage system ensures that the house will remain functional in the event of an extreme climate event or power outage.  

Importantly, the VISION House Austin demonstrates that sustainable architecture can be affordable and practical for everyday living, and that a home with lower carbon footprint (that is, subsequently, net zero, all-electric, healthy, connected, and solar-powered) can lead to a higher quality of life for homeowners.

To augment the home’s climate-responsive design, the VISION House Austin will feature:

  • A super-efficient building envelope from Henry, a Carlisle company, designed to maximize the home’s energy efficiency and weather resistance.
  • A reflective metal roof and radiant barrier from Fabral.
  • Resilient fiber cement siding, trim, and soffits from James Hardie.
  • A variable speed heat pump HVAC system and intelligent ComfortLink II controller from Trane Technologies.
  • High-performance windows and doors from Andersen made with recycled wood-fiber.
  • Beautiful and durable engineered wood flooring from Armstrong made in the U.S.A.
  • Low-carbon, durable composite decking made from 60% post-industrial scrap from TimberTech.
  • Elegant and strong ceramic tile, porcelain tile, and countertops from Crossville Tile.
  • Energy and water-conserving smart appliances from GE Profile.
  • Smart home system, demand-side energy management technology, and battery storage from Savant.

Construction on the VISION House Austin will begin this summer, with the reveal planned for early 2025. 

We’re delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Peter Pfeiffer and the Barley|Pfeiffer Architecture team as we explore the crucial topic of climate-responsive design, product specification, and construction.  We invite you to follow our progress—Visit the VISION House Austin site to keep up with its progress.