Net-Zero Heroes: Trey Farmer | austintexas.gov

Trey stands in front of a construction project with a hard hat.

I assist create Austin Internet-Zero by displaying that there’s a higher method to construct.

In October, the Austin Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) will host its Annual home visit. Native architect, sustainability advocate and our new hero Internet-Zero, Trey Farmer, shall be one of many Austinites showcasing their house on the tour. Trey works with native agency Forge Craft Structure + Design and is a LEED Accredited Skilled, Licensed Passive Home Guide, and is a member of the Austin Passive Home Alliance Board of Administrators and Passive Home Alliance Nationwide Council Institute.

We visited Trey at Forge Craft Structure + Design studios and visited considered one of Forge Craft’s ongoing initiatives to speak about his work, the renovation of his personal century house and the way forward for the inexperienced constructing.


What prompted you to behave?

Working within the constructed surroundings, I get to see so many wonderful examples of individuals pushing into new territory.

Fifteen years in the past, I labored for an architect in Berkeley, California, doing among the first LEED-certified initiatives in the US. Throughout this era, I used to be additionally launched to the idea of making a Passive housepure building, permaculture and Living Building Challenge. The concept that our buildings and infrastructure can have a internet constructive affect on the planet was so thrilling and galvanizing.

With these design ideas in thoughts, I noticed that people have the power to create a internet acquire – to truly enhance ecosystems for all life, not simply our personal. BUT – and it is a massive however – it is opposite to a lot of the best way we presently dwell, develop, construct and transfer. We have to transform the best way we do issues.

Trey walks down South Lamar to a construction project.

Two photos of Trey on site during a construction project in South Lamar.Trey visits a Forge Craft building website on South Lamar. The undertaking will create tons of of reasonably priced housing items for Basis Communities, an area non-profit group.

How did you do?

Just a few years in the past, my spouse and I had the chance to do a significant renovation on our century-old Craftsman house in Austin. She is an inside designer at Studio Ferme, specializing in supplies and wholesome areas. I’m an architect at Forge Craft Structure + Design with a specialty in wholesome and power environment friendly building. The renovation was the proper alternative to place our abilities and beliefs to the take a look at whereas making a case research house that might assist present that even older houses might be lovely, wholesome, and power environment friendly with out breaking down. break. We referred to as on our buddy, architect Hugh Jefferson Randolph, to collaborate on the undertaking with us. We determined to certify the home with American Passive House Institute (PHIUS) and Austin Energy Green Building.

The Passive Home is the world’s most stringent energy-focused constructing customary. Utilizing a sturdy, third-party verified power mannequin, we have been capable of take a look at completely different ranges of insulation for the partitions, flooring and roof. We additionally examined double- or triple-glazed home windows, HVAC system choices, and design iterations, corresponding to house dimension, window and overhang placement, and extra. We wished to see what gave us probably the most profit by way of consolation, building value and operational power value.

Two photos from inside Trey's house.

Pictures from inside Trey’s home. Footage by Leonid Furmansky

In the long run, we created a house that makes use of about half the power of a comparable new house. We have been then capable of set up sufficient photo voltaic panels on the roof that, with the discount in power consumption, our home turned constructive and will produce extra power than it consumed in a yr. Our house is snug in even probably the most excessive climate situations and affords unbelievable indoor air high quality as a result of no unfiltered air can enter (assume oak pollen and freeway mud).

We moved into the home a couple of yr earlier than the winter storms of 2021 hit, and regardless of shedding energy for 3 days and single-digit temperatures outdoors, our house remained livable.

Now now we have been capable of combine these classes discovered into our skilled practices and use the home as a educating software. Forge Craft Structure is engaged on extra passive home initiatives, and we have been capable of refocus our single-family studio in direction of creating all wholesome, sustainable houses that create extra power than they eat. Now we have additionally introduced these classes to our industrial work and carry out in-house power modeling and value optimization in addition to sound materials picks.

An exterior shot of Trey Farmer's house.  A big white dog is lying on the porch.

Trey and his family are sitting on a bench in their house.  Large windows overlooking the trees are behind them.

Above: The Farmer household house. Beneath: Trey together with his household inside their house. Pictures by Leonid Furmansky

What has been most rewarding about getting concerned on this manner?

The neighborhood round us has been wonderful. We shared what we have been engaged on with our pals and fellow sustainable design geeks early and sometimes, beginning with design and persevering with by way of building and now throughout occupancy. It has been nice enjoyable studying from the consultants and making pals alongside the best way.

Throughout building, the home hosted greater than a dozen pleased hours, open homes, coaching workshops, excursions, and pupil teams. All through the method, we tried to share what labored, what did not, what we like, and what we might do in a different way subsequent time.

Now there are even UT researchers learning the home’s efficiency.

In October, the home shall be open to the general public as a part of the AIA Homes Tour, so please come test it out and study extra. We might love to point out you round.

What was the toughest half?

It may be irritating to know that there’s a higher method to construct and to not see this information extra rapidly and extra extensively adopted within the structure, design and building industries.

We additionally love the home a lot that we won’t wait to make one other one. We wish to push issues even additional and incorporate the teachings we have discovered to see what’s doable.

Blueprints hang on the wall of the architecture studio.  Tile tokens are laid out on a table.

Prints hanging on the wall show embodied carbon measurements.

On the highest nook left : Blueprints hold on the wall of the Forge Craft Structure studio. High proper : Tile samples laid out. Beneath: Embodied carbon measurements for Forge Craft Structure & Design buildings are displayed on a wall within the studio.

There have been many advances in inexperienced constructing in recent times. Seeking to the long run, what excites you most about the way forward for this subject?

The fusion of the pure constructing and the environment friendly constructing. Straw bale, hemp, adobe and rammed earth designs are one area of interest, whereas passive homes, internet zero buildings and excessive efficiency buildings are one other. Each are fortunately turning into extra widespread. We want houses and places of work comprised of pure, non-toxic supplies that produce extra power than they eat. Now we have the facility to create wholesome, lovely and comfy locations that don’t pollute our surroundings.

These concepts are gaining traction and market share, which suggests they’re turning into much less unique and cheaper. The value of photo voltaic panels has fallen from over $100 per watt in 1976 to lower than 25 cents per watt at this time, and continues to drop yearly. I am fascinated by electrical automobile choices at this time in comparison with simply 10 years in the past. The identical factor occurs with buildings – the variety of licensed Passive Home items and sq. footage greater than doubles each two years.

Now we have the data and know-how to make our buildings a part of the local weather answer.

Is there a guide, documentary or different medium that you’d suggest for individuals who wish to study extra about these topics?

Passive House Accelerator is a superb platform to find out about excessive efficiency constructing and local weather options. They’ve articles, movies, weekly pleased hours, webinars, and undertaking profiles from around the globe.

Their Putting punk in the passive house the video collection is a superb start line.

Within the guide Building Beyond ZeroBruce King and Chris Magwood evaluate buildings as considered one of our most sensible and reasonably priced local weather options as a substitute of being one of many major drivers of local weather change.

What recommendation do you’ve gotten for others?

Get entangled in each manner doable. All of us have a voice and a lever. Ask your native grocery retailer if it has photo voltaic panels or inform the automobile dealership that you just wish to look into extra electrical automobile choices.

When you’re constructing a home, discuss to your architect and builder about passive home, low-carbon constructing supplies, and tips on how to create a wholesome surroundings for your loved ones. If you’re shopping for, constructing, designing, renting or simply viewing a house, discover out concerning the blower door pointing, which describes how tight a home is. The extra tenants, landlords, builders, realtors and designers ask about this stuff, the extra they’ll begin to turn out to be the norm.

Trey smiles in front of Forge Craft Architecture & Design.


Discover out extra concerning the 2022 version AIA Homes Tourwhich can happen on October 22 and 23, 2022, to go to Trey’s home.

Sustainable buildings are a key a part of Austin’s internet zero future. To study extra about Austin’s internet zero aim and discover actions you possibly can take to help a greener neighborhood, take a look at the Austin Climate Equity Plan

Share your Internet-Zero contributions with us at Twitter The place Facebook and use #NetZeroHero. If you already know a Internet-Zero hero (or heroes!) who must be acknowledged for his or her efforts, ship your software to [email protected]


#NetZero #Heroes #Trey #Farmer #austintexasgov

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