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The Shade House Condos - The Heights


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I really like the look but I think it's priced too high too. As a longtime Heights resident, I am baffled by the recent influx of way out of scale projects coming along. Within a mile of my home, I can point out at least six new houses/townhouses priced $400K+ that have been sitting empty for over a year. These are built in neighborhoods where the original cottages top out at $250K. A couple streets here (most noticeably the 1200-1300 block of Prince) are becoming concrete canyons like those in West End. Sad.

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As a Heights residence, the consciousness to the components of which this development is comprised: environment, material utilization and community is truly welcomed and appreciated.

Shade House Development

Welcome to the group, Overstan, and I think your comment would probably be shared by many Heights residents because of the perception that this kind of construction, although not in harmony with the historic architecture, is planet loving and not simply profit loving.

It's that vaque idea of selfish developers building architecturally uncaring, inferior products that gets the NIMBY blood boiling.

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I like it a lot, except for the Phoenix-style landscaping. Why did they landscape it as though Houston is a desert climate? It was ironic that the first paragraph of the "Dwell" article said "unfortunately, the green ends at the tree line" while the landscaping for these houses stayed with that theme and is almost devoid of green.

Edited by Houston19514
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for water conservation.

I would think the planting of greenery would be "greener" since the plants would lessen the "heat island" effect and provide more oxygen.

Gawd help us if going green means more pavement, permeable or not.

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I would think the planting of greenery would be "greener" since the plants would lessen runoff and provide more oxygen.

Gawd help us if going green means more pavement, permeable or not.

having to water a yard is usually a negative wrt green building practices......i thought it was a permeable rock garden.

now if it was somehow incorporated into the structure to help cool the building, it would be beneficial.

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having to water a yard is usually a negative wrt green building practices......i thought it was a permeable rock garden.

now if it was somehow incorporated into the structure to help cool the building, it would be beneficial.

I realized after I posted that there would probably be less runoff with permeable pavement, and so edited my initial post. The sun will still reflect more from the pavement though and the cooling possiblity is also gone.

I'm guessing they just liked the zen garden look more than anything.

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I'm thinking the goal here for Shade House was to use a green concept called Xeriscape. The concept is to use plants that will successfully grow in the region, requiring minimum maintenance. If you don't have to water the yard, there is one resource that is being conserved. If you don't have to mow, there is another (no pollution from lawnmowers and no energy used to maintain the mower either.) One may generally consider the oxygen emitted from a lush, green lawn to be more environmentally positive, but the energy and pollution caused by upkeep erases that positive aspect.

Links on Xeriscape:

http://www.eartheasy.com/grow_xeriscape.htm

http://landscaping.about.com/cs/cheaplands...xeriscaping.htm

Edited by Jersey01
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There is no shortage of water in Houston. It quite routinely falls right out of the sky. One can have green landscaping in Houston that does not require artificial watering. One can have green landscaping without covering the site in grass. Yes, the gravel is permeable and therefore better than concrete, but it will definitely add to the heat island effect, whereas green plantings would provide cooling AND oxygen. Building "green" does not mean we have to adopt desert landscaping. I'm familiar with the concept of Xeriscaping. One of the principles of xeriscaping is to use plants native to your region. I could be wrong, but I don't think cactus are native to the Houston region.

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There is no shortage of water in Houston.
it's not about having enough water but rather using resources in the most efficient manner. my neighbor puts lawn trimmings out everytime he cuts the lawn. that would be a negative wrt green practices cause it generates waste.

A sustainable building is a structure that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner.

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it's not about having enough water but rather using resources in the most efficient manner. my neighbor puts lawn trimmings out everytime he cuts the lawn. that would be a negative wrt green practices cause it generates waste.

A sustainable building is a structure that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner.

Read my whole post. You can also have green without having grass. (And just because your neighbor sends his clippings to the landfill does not automatically make grass evil. Part of using resources in the most efficient manner is the proper management thereof.)

It is indeed about using resources in the most efficient manner. That involves both the design and the proper management of the landscape. This gravel landscape is bad design for Houston (increases the head island effect, uses non-native plants), and a well-designed, properly managed, green landscape (even one using some grass) would use resources more efficiently and actually benefit the environment.

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Welcome to the group, Overstan, and I think your comment would probably be shared by many Heights residents because of the perception that this kind of construction, although not in harmony with the historic architecture, is planet loving and not simply profit loving.

It's that vaque idea of selfish developers building architecturally uncaring, inferior products that gets the NIMBY blood boiling.

What did they tear down in order to build that thing?

Lana Nelson

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Read my whole post. You can also have green without having grass. (And just because your neighbor sends his clippings to the landfill does not automatically make grass evil. Part of using resources in the most efficient manner is the proper management thereof.)

It is indeed about using resources in the most efficient manner. That involves both the design and the proper management of the landscape. This gravel landscape is bad design for Houston (increases the head island effect, uses non-native plants), and a well-designed, properly managed, green landscape (even one using some grass) would use resources more efficiently and actually benefit the environment.

I agree that there could be a use of plants or native grasses that may be more effective than gravel. However, just about ANY use of lawn turf is bad. To begin with, water IS valuable, even in Houston. Our clay type soul does not collect water well. 90% of rainfall washes away, taking everything with it. This includes grass clippings, pesticides and fertilizers spread on the lawn, all of which pollute the bay. Additionally, though this summer is the first one in which I did not water the lawn, every other summer requires at least periodic lawn watering. The water used is City drinking water, which must be cleaned, purified and delivered. Pouring it on a lawn is wasteful and inefficient. Of course, the lawn must be mowed, edged and weed eaten, all contributing to air pollution. One hour of use by a typical lawnmower is equivalent to a 100 mile trip by automobile. Even cutting the grass can be bad. The cut grass emits hydrocarbons into the air, contributing to ozone, according to an Australian study.

While heat island concerns have merit, if the rock garden is used for parking, the permeable surface is preferable to concrete or asphalt. If it is merely for aesthetics, I agree that it is not the most environmentally friendly solution. However, a xeriscape is STILL better than grass. The best solution is something in between, native plants that do not require much water or maintanance for non-parking areas, with semi-permeable surfaces for parking areas. A rainwater collection system would have helped as well.

That said, I do applaud the effort. Clearly, the builders of this home put more thought into conservation than most. Our critiques generally amount to picking nits.

By the way, the number one conservation method employed is that used by danax, musicman and others (me included). It involves adaptive reuse of existing structures. New construction, even green, is extremely energy intensive. Recycling the entire house is much greener. ^_^

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I agree that there could be a use of plants or native grasses that may be more effective than gravel. However, just about ANY use of lawn turf is bad. To begin with, water IS valuable, even in Houston. Our clay type soul does not collect water well. 90% of rainfall washes away, taking everything with it. This includes grass clippings, pesticides and fertilizers spread on the lawn, all of which pollute the bay. Additionally, though this summer is the first one in which I did not water the lawn, every other summer requires at least periodic lawn watering. The water used is City drinking water, which must be cleaned, purified and delivered. Pouring it on a lawn is wasteful and inefficient. Of course, the lawn must be mowed, edged and weed eaten, all contributing to air pollution. One hour of use by a typical lawnmower is equivalent to a 100 mile trip by automobile. Even cutting the grass can be bad. The cut grass emits hydrocarbons into the air, contributing to ozone, according to an Australian study.

While heat island concerns have merit, if the rock garden is used for parking, the permeable surface is preferable to concrete or asphalt. If it is merely for aesthetics, I agree that it is not the most environmentally friendly solution. However, a xeriscape is STILL better than grass. The best solution is something in between, native plants that do not require much water or maintanance for non-parking areas, with semi-permeable surfaces for parking areas. A rainwater collection system would have helped as well.

That said, I do applaud the effort. Clearly, the builders of this home put more thought into conservation than most. Our critiques generally amount to picking nits.

By the way, the number one conservation method employed is that used by danax, musicman and others (me included). It involves adaptive reuse of existing structures. New construction, even green, is extremely energy intensive. Recycling the entire house is much greener. ^_^

It's not just for parking. The pictures show that same gravel treatment in the entire "backyard" area. (And FWIW, having a tiny patch of turf grass does not require the use of a motorized, polluting lawnmower, and one can use environmentally friendly fertilizers, etc. But all that is really beside the point; as I've said repeatedly, one can plant a nice green, environmentally friendly, native landscaping without resorting to an expanse of turf grass.)

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Hi everybody - I just joined this forum because I live in the Heights and I am very familiar with this development. I actually know someone who lives in one of the units so I get a first hand account for what it's like to live there. They told me that the builder is having an Art-Show / Open House on Wed, Oct 17 at 6:30pm and everyone is welcome to stop by to talk to him. He is a nice, down to earth guy. A think he would be very interested in addressing some of the questions raised on this forum directly.

I also want to address a few comments from others above. I know that this development didn't replace an existing structure, the developer bought land with no existing home on it. While unfortunately in the Heights this is a frequent occurence, where old historic home is destroyed to make way for a modern one, in this instance this did not happen.

As for the landscaping - the people who live there love it. It's well-thought out and low-maintenance.

Overall - I believe there aren't enough Green projects/developments in Houston. It's a shame for the city of this size not to have more projects underway. I hope that this builder or others develop the idea further.

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