UTSA Architecture Three+1 Project receives City of San Antonio Green Building Award

Three plus one project

UTSA Three+1 Project receives honorable mention by City's Green Building Awards
(Photo courtesy of City of San Antonio)

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(July 8, 2013) -- The Three+1 Project for Westside Inner City Affordable Housing recently received an Honorable Mention for Research and Education in the Residential Construction category of the 2013 City of San Antonio's Green Building Awards.

Three+1 is a collaborative project of the UTSA College of Architecture, the San Antonio Alternative Housing Corporation, and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs that resulted in the construction of four experimental, affordable rental houses on San Antonio's West Side.

 The City's Annual Green Building Awards celebrates building professionals and owners who have made significant strides in improving the performance of their buildings and specific construction projects.

The awards were presented at a luncheon held by the City's Office of Sustainability at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center where industry professionals and local dignitaries including Texas State Representative Mike Villarreal; San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley; Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson; Mayor Al Suarez, City of Converse; and Robert Puente, President and CEO of San Antonio Water System, gathered to honor achievements in green building.

UTSA College of Architecture Professor Taeg Nishimoto and architecture alum Brett Davidson represented the Three+1 Project at the event and received the award from Mary Hammer, Interim Director of the City's Office of Sustainability. To view the full list of awardees, visit www.sanantonio.gov/sustainability.

"For us, the project aligned three aspects of our school's curriculum: research, outreach, and professional development," said Nishimoto. "It offered our graduate students an excellent opportunity to 'learn by doing.'"

 The Three+1 Project was conceived more than 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 two years working with SAAHC to research and design three homes, each built from different construction materials.

A fourth unit, the "control home," was built in SAAHC's conventional way with traditional wood framing. Utilization of normal construction methods in the control home provides a baseline performance for comparison research of the other three prototypes. The remaining three alternative homes were built with structural insulated panels, autoclaved aerated concrete blocks and repurposed 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. Each home utilizes energy-conserving interior features such as sprayed foam insulation, attic fans, and solar water heaters. All four homes meet Level 1 criteria for the Build San Antonio Green Program, and the repurposed shipping container house was the first-ever to receive a residential building permit in San Antonio.

Each rental unit also contains energy-monitoring sensors that collect real-time climate data and energy consumption numbers from the current residents. Now in the second phase of the project, UTSA faculty members from the College of Architecture and the College of Engineering are currently monitoring the data, analyzing the behavioral patterns of energy use by occupants and establishing links between energy-use patterns and the construction material used in each home. Their collaborative research findings will be published in an academic paper and presented at future academic conferences.

 To learn more about the UTSA Three+1 Project, email Nicole Chavez at Nicole.Chavez@utsa.edu. Connect online with UTSA at www.facebook.com/utsa, www.twitter.com/utsa or www.youtube.com/utsa.