University of Memphis Photo

U of M Breaks Ground on Sustainable Design House

The Center for Sustainable Design at the University of Memphis recently broke ground on a demonstration house in Memphis' Uptown neighborhood. The TERRA home (Technologically and Environmentally Responsive Residential Architecture) is being constructed at the northeast corner of North Main and Greenlaw. Click here to watch a video of the groundbreaking.

The two-story, 1,500-square-foot home will be one of the first in the region built to conform to the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED guidelines for homes. The home's construction will feature energy efficient and environmentally responsible techniques, materials, appliances and fixtures. The house also will adhere to Memphis Light Gas and Water Division's EcoBUILD program and to the American Lung Association's Health House standards.

Jim Lutz, project director and professor of architecture at the U of M, said that although the house is relatively small, the implications of its design and construction are huge. “Architects and designers must be prepared to address the challenges of building in a time of growing demand and diminishing resources," Lutz said. “We must develop and build high-performance, environmentally responsible buildings. This home embodies those precepts."

The design, presentation drawings and construction documents for the project were all produced by University of Memphis students with input from faculty and professional advisors. Students will also have the opportunity to work on the project during the construction phase. After construction is completed, the garage will function as a temporary classroom for seminars that will be 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.

U of M President Shirley Raines noted, “This project is truly an interdisciplinary learning initiative and has engaged students and instructors from more than five academic programs at the University of Memphis including architecture, interior design, graphic design and photography programs."

The project has benefited from partnerships between the University of Memphis, AIA Memphis (American Institute of Architects), the Memphis chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Uptown Partnership, which includes the Henry Turley Company, Belz Enterprises and the city of Memphis.

Mark Greiner, senior vice president, WorkSpace Futures and E X P, for Steelcase Inc., said his company shares three guiding principles with the TERRA home: doing more than asked when more is needed, helping others help the environment, and building a future, figuratively and literally. “What is it that makes a home? Maybe it's not a welcome mat, but I think it's when the line between our planet and our place on that planet starts to blur or even fade away," he said. “Then we truly have a home, for this and for all generations."