Buffalo Bayou Residence

Sustainability Statistics

Land

  • Located adjacent to the Buffalo Bayou, the project restores ecological conditions and accommodates floodplain function. 
  • Erosion control strategies were implemented. Geotextiles stabilize the soils, plants were selected for root stability, and retaining walls prevent water runoff.
  • The project conserves healthy soils and amends others.

Planting

  • 50+ trees protected on-site.
  • 200 large specimen trees including native trees, such as American sycamore, bald cypress, and frantoio olive trees.
  • Pesticides and fertilizers were minimized.
  • Plants are allowed to go to seed/flower life.
  • Annual planting was avoided.
  • Invasive species were managed and controlled on-site.
  • The project fosters habitat creation.
  • Food can be produced on-site.

Water

  • A natural well is used for rain water collection and irrigation.
  • The site’s topography manages flood water.
  • Topography and building placement allow stormwater to flow underneath the house (water feature).
  • Stormwater runoff into the adjacent bayou is filtered through a rain garden, rocky-ground materials and planting.
  • Water turbidity was decreased by stabilizing the bayou’s edge.
  • Green roofs are installed to reduce the heat island effect, absorb storm water and provide enjoyment to the users.
  • Trees have the potential for intercepting 125,000 gallons of water which are equivalent to the water usage for 125 American residents for one day.*

Carbon, Energy + Air

  • 30 wells were implemented for geothermal heating and cooling.
  • Large trees protected around the home offer passive cooling.
  • The project reduces light pollution.
  • Pollutants were controlled and retained during construction. 
  • The trees sequester 60,000 pounds of carbon annually,  which are equivalent to a standard car driving 40,810 miles.**  

Economics

  • A very low-maintenance strategy offers continuous cost savings to the client.  

Waste

  • The design sought to reduce the amount of waste produced by recycling organic matter and reusing materials.

* The tree average for water interception is 500 gallons. American’s use an average of 100 gallons of water per day (EPA’s water trivia facts)

**120 pounds of CO2 per tree annually (This number is based on an average from the National Tree Benefits Calculator) One car produces an average of 8,320 pounds of CO2 per year. Each vehicle drives an average of 11,318 miles per year. (The Code of Federal Regulations - 40 CFR 600.113)

Buffalo Bayou Residence

Overlooking a wooded preserve on the banks of the Buffalo Bayou headwaters, this residence was designed with careful consideration of the unique topography and views offered by the dramatic wooded setting. Perched on an oxbow, the structure ‘floats’ above the undulating ground it sits on, while planting at grade weaves throughout and is unaffected. It is designed to take advantage of both panoramic views and an intimate seclusion, while being able to contend with flood challenges and achieve the highest sustainability goals. While planting consists of a tight palette of local and climate appropriate plants, this residential project also involved an element of forest and wetlands management; the south and west end of the site extends into a several acres of native sycamore and bald cypress, while the east abuts a Bayou backwater wetland.

Location: Houston, TX