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Educational residence: A sustainable house serves as prototype for future residential green building endeavors

The TERRA House, which stands for Technologically + Environmentally Responsive Residential Architecture, is a project designed and implemented by students and professors of the University of Memphis' Department of Architecture and Center for Sustainable Design, Memphis, Tenn. Input was given from architecture and interior design faculty members, along with professional advisors.

The two-story, 1,680-square-foot (156-m2) house opened on Feb. 27 and is applying for LEED Platinum certification, which would make it the first such residence in Tennessee. The TERRA House is designed to serve as a prototype for future residential green building endeavors in the Memphis area.

Located in the Uptown Neighborhood of downtown Memphis, the building features energy-efficient and environmentally responsive techniques, materials, appliances and fixtures. The house adheres to the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program; Memphis Light Gas and Water Division EcoBUILD Design; and the American Lung Association's Health House standards.

Project objectives include producing a healthy, high-performance house that embodies the principles of sustainable design and is complementary to the neighborhood context; to educate students, design and construction professionals, homeowners and the general public about the value of sustainable design; and to become a resource to those in the community who would like information about sustainable materials and practices.


The house features an energy-efficient roof by Memphis-based Varco Pruden Buildings. The project utilized 2,300 square feet (214 m2) of the company's SLR metal roof panels, in addition to framing hardware from Simpson Strong-Tie, Pleasanton, Calif., and photovoltaic panels from Stellar Sun, Little Rock, Ark. The roof has a high solar reflectivity index, allowing it to deflect radiant heat while allowing the house to return to comfortable temperatures more quickly than with other roofing materials. During the summer months, the roof will reflect the heat, keeping the home cooler.

"The enthusiastic media coverage and general interest the TERRA House has received certainly is an accurate reflection of the growing concern about environmental issues," said Jim Peckham, Varco Pruden's marketing manager. "Varco Pruden is delighted to have played a role in this project and to help people in the Mid-South area understand and appreciate the value of a LEED-certified structure."

Students and faculty of the Department of Architecture, the contractors and local professionals conducted tours of the house during weekends in March. The garage is currently functioning as a temporary classroom for seminars offered to design and construction professionals, as well as members of the public who are interested in learning more about the principles of sustainable design.


TERRA House, Memphis, Tenn.

Architect/interior designer: University of Memphis' Department of Architecture and Center for Sustainable Design, Memphis

General contractor: DPC Construction LLC,

Framing hardware: Simpson Strong-Tie,
Pleasanton, Calif.

Photovoltaic panels: Stellar Sun,
Little Rock, Ark.

Metal roof panels: Varco Pruden Buildings