UTSA College of Architecture Three+1 Project honored by Build San Antonio Green

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UTSA College of Architecture winners of award for innovation in green building

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(Dec. 18, 2012) -- A collaborative project of the UTSA College of Architecture, the San Antonio Alternative Housing Corp., and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs that resulted in the construction of four experimental rental houses on San Antonio's West Side recently was honored for innovation in affordable green building at the annual Build San Antonio Green's Green Gala.

Taeg Nishimoto, UTSA College of Architecture associate dean; Greg Cooper, SAAHC project manager; UTSA architecture graduate student Clare Cloudt; and architecture alumni Schuyler Costello and Daniel Cancilla represented the Three+1 Project at the event atop the Tower of the Americas.

At the Green Gala, San Antonio's award-winning residential green building program, Build San Antonio Green, honors builders, developers, organizations and sustainability advocates who have made a significant local impact in residential green building over the last year. Honorees are selected in-house by Build San Antonio Green. Now in its third year, the Green Gala is attended by the who's who of green building in San Antonio including legislators and business leaders, construction community members and other decision makers.

"We are proud to honor the Three+1 Project and team members," said Anita Devora, executive director of Build San Antonio Green. "This project was an ambitious experiment demonstrating affordable green building with the use of alternative building materials in addition to an extraordinary amount of teamwork amongst students from the UTSA College of Architecture and the San Antonio Alternative Housing Corp."

The Three+1 Project was conceived three years ago when Nishimoto met Rod Radle, then executive director of SAAHC. Under Nishimoto's direction, a dozen graduate students from the College of Architecture spent the last two years working with SAAHC to research and design three homes, each built from different construction materials. The energy efficiency of each type of home was monitored and evaluated after completion.

A fourth unit, the control home, was built in SAAHC's conventional way with traditional wood framing. The remaining three alternative homes were built with structural insulated panels (SIP), autoclaved aerated concrete blocks and shipping containers, respectively. UTSA architecture students designed the three homes with an emphasis on energy efficiency to demonstrate viable alternatives to conventional low-income housing. All four homes meet Level 1 criteria for the Build San Antonio Green program, and the recycled shipping container house was the first-ever to receive a residential building permit in San Antonio.

In addition to energy-monitoring sensors, each home utilizes energy-conserving interior features such as sprayed foam insulation, attic fans and solar water heaters. The units, which have similar footprints and square footage, have since been rented to families of similar size to ensure accurate energy-use comparisons, marking the beginning of the second phase of the project. The sensors will collect data on the renters' use of energy and, over the next few years, UTSA architecture students will study which of the construction types is most energy efficient.

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To learn more about the Three+1 project, email Nicole Chavez.