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TERRA House Receives Top Platinum Rating from Green Building Council University News
For release: July 14, 2010

For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901/678-2843

The TERRA (Technologically and Environmentally Responsible Residential Architecture) sustainable demonstration house has received the Platinum rating from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Platinum is the highest rating obtainable in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. The TERRA house, designed by University of Memphis architecture students, is the first residence in West Tennessee to receive this rating.

Utility consumption at TERRA is well below other homes of the same size.Based on a 12-month study, TERRA is using 76 percent less electricity and 72 percent less gas than a standard house in Memphis; compared to an energy-efficient home, TERRA is using 63 percent less electricity and 54 percent less gas. The average utility bill over the past six months was $34.84, which includes uncontrollable standard fees of $24.94 per month. The highest bill was $69.94 and the lowest just $14.62.

The house, located in the Uptown neighborhood of Downtown Memphis, was designed by the University of Memphis’ Department of Architecture through the Center for Sustainable Design in the FedEx Institute of Technology in partnership with Davis, Patrikios and Criswell Inc., the general contractor. It was designed entirely by students under faculty supervision and represents a collaboration among the department and more than 55 businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

TERRA features energy-efficient and environmentally responsible techniques, materials, appliances, and fixtures. It adheres to the American Lung Association’s Health House standards and to the standards of Memphis Light, Gas, and Water Division’s EcoBUILD program. The 1,800 sq. ft. building was one of the first in the region to conform to the USGBC’s LEED Green Building Rating System. Features include insulated concrete forms, special soy-based insulation, a tankless water heater, sustainable landscaping, energy-efficient windows, and a greywater recovery system. A rainwater harvesting system will be added in the future.

Other partners in TERRA project include CowanHouse, the LEED consultant; Steelcase Corp.; and the Uptown Partnership, which includes Belz Enterprises Inc., Henry Turley Realtors, the City of Memphis, and MLG&W EcoBUILD.

Key students involved in the project include Alzbeta Bowden, Mario Walker, Mary Carroll, and Kate Bidwell. They were recognized recently when the department received a national award from the Construction Specifications Institute for TERRA and the students’ involvement in TERRA.

“This is a great honor for our faculty and students in the Department of Architecture, for DPC Construction, and for the many community partners without whom we could not have achieved this important designation,” said Michael Hagge, chair of the Department of Architecture. “As a demonstration house, TERRA was intended to be a teaching tool, and this recognition will help continue to educate people on the merits of green design and construction.”

Eric Criswell, principal of DPC Construction Inc., said, “We greatly appreciate the opportunity of being an integral part of such a groundbreaking project, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the University of Memphis on future projects.”

Michael Chisamore, associate professor of architecture and director of the Center for Sustainable Design, and several students will continue to monitor the energy savings of TERRA for the next year or two.

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