Roselind Hejl

Roselind Hejl, CRS
Coldwell Banker United Realtors


Blog - Remodeling, Design, Green Building


Roselind - I'm an agent in another city and just happened to pull up your website in a search for green homes. 

Great website, so professional, yet so personal. 

If I wasn't an agent myself, you'd be the one I'd give a call if I was looking for property in Austin, Tx. 

Just curious, did you design it yourself?  It's wonderful.


Green Building for Austin's Climate .
Green Building Austin
Austin's Climate

In Austin we have long, hot summers and mild winters. Humidity is about 75%. This holds heat in the atmosphere, and prevents temperature drops in the evening. Air conditioning is required for comfort during the hot months.

About 70% of the year-

Keep solar heat outside.

Keep air conditioned air inside with tightly sealed construction.

Remove humidity from inside the building.

About 35% of the year-

Allow cross ventilation on cool days.

About 30% of the year-

Allow solar heat into the home in during cold months.

Prevailing Breeze-

Breeze is from the south all year at about 8-10 miles per hour.


32" per year

Build a passive solar design.

Build with solar orientation in mind.

Face the broad side of the house to the north or south, to avoid solar heat as the sun moves low in the horizon.

Use deep overhangs or solar screens to shield glass areas from direct sun.

Avoid skylights, because they allow too much heat gain.

Cool down attic spaces.

Attic spaces can accumulate tremendous heat, and transfer it to living areas below. AC ducts in the attic absorb this heat also.

Create natural air flow though the attic using vents under roof eaves and on ridge peaks. As heated air rises, it ventilates the attic.

Lighter colored roof materials absorb less heat.

Reflective heat barriers under shingles help to reduce heat gain.

High levels of insulation in attics and exterior walls is crucial for comfortable indoor temperature.

Size your air conditioning system.

The AC system removes humidity from the air as it works to cool down the temperature. An oversized system will cool too quickly, and leave the room clammy.

A smaller system will run long enough reach the desired temperature and, at the same time, clear the air of humidity.

A smaller system lasts longer, does not cycle on and off frequently, and costs less to purchase.

Make sure your system meets the new minimum standard of at least SEER-13.

Service your heat & AC system.

Central heat and AC systems need periodic maintenance to keep them running efficiently.

Leaks can develop in duct work, as well as around doors, windows, exhaust vents, recessed lights, electric outlets, and attic access.

Caulk and tape joints need to be checked annually.

Programmable thermostats help to regulate energy usage.

Quality filters keep air clean.

Use Pleated-Media Filters in AC return-air grills. This filter removes particles as small as mold spores from the air that is drawn back into the AC blower, keeping coils cleaner and improving the air quality in your home.

Heat Pumps use available heat.

Heat pumps on electric furnaces reduce energy use by drawing heat from outside air, using the same technology that air conditioners use to remove heat from indoor air.

Insulate with double paned windows.

Double glass panes provide an insulatilng air space between the panes, reducing heat transfer.

The metal oxide coating on Low e (emissive) glass helps to keep heat out.

Check for rebates.
Check for free diagnostic testing, and rebates from the City of Austin for installation of high efficiency AC systems, attic insulation, solar screens, weather-stripping, and other energy saving improvements to existing buildings.
Garden with natives.

Native landscaping that is suited to Austin's rainfall is a crucial part of building green.

Xeriscape landscapes are attractive, and reduce water and fertilizer needs.

Keep as much natural area on your lot as possible.

Water pervious materials such as open paving blocks or crushed granite allow water to percolate into the ground.

Rainwater catchment systems use gutters and barrels to catch water that falls on roofs.

Use water conservative appliances.

Check the water and energy usage before selecting appliances

Front loading washing machines use less energy and water.

Some dishwashers use less water and have no-heat drying.

Low flow toilets and showers reduce water usage.

Plan for cross ventilation.

Doors and windows should be placed to allow cross ventilation.

Lower inflow windows and higher outflow windows keeps air moving, since hot air rises.

Build smaller.

Build the minimum size that you need, and avoid creating costly excess space.

Careful design and use of space can expand the feel of a smaller home.

Re-designing an existing house is a way to preserve existing resources.


Use materials with recycled content when possible, such as cellulose insulation, Thermo-ply, and lumber composites.

Construct an inexpensive compost bin for re-cycling yard waste for use as mulch in garden areas, reducing water and fertilizer needs.

Plan a place for re-cycling of household trash. This could be a storage bin in the kitchen, and a holding bin in the garage for paper, glass, plastic and metal.

Use renewable materials.

Consider deck materials made of plastics and waste wood.

Medium density fiberboard (MDF), a wood product used for interior trim and doors, does not contain formaldehyde.

Fiber-Cement siding and trim (Hardi-board) are very durable and fire retardant.

Use locally produced materials when possible.

Alternative building materials, such as rammed earth or insulated concrete are worth investigating.

Concrete floors utilize the foundation material as finish floor, saving materials and labor.

Recycled wood floors are a very attractive re-use of materials.

Bamboo floors are made from a rapidly renewable source.

Hard surface floors do not hold dust, molds, and allergens, and are very durable.

Safeguard your site.

Trees, vegetation and bird habitat on the site should be protected during the planning and building stages.

Native trees, grasses, rock outcroppings and natural drainage can be made a part of your building and landscaping design.

Reduce the impact to the building site as much as possible.

Make sure construction waste is properly disposed of, especially paints and solvents. Do not allow them to be buried on the site.

Use safe materials:

Use products that are biodegradable, non toxic, water based, and cold water compatible.

Avoid products that contain unnecessary dyes, ozone depleting chemicals, heavy metals, or known carcinogens.

Avoid solvent based finishes, particleboard, adhesives, some carpets, and other products that release volatile chemicals into the air.

Look for "green rated" carpets and other products.

Avoid pressure treated wood when possible, especially for play structures.


Copyright © 2000 Roselind Hejl, et al. Roselind Hejl's Austin Real Estate Guide