By Peter Pfeiffer

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

BPA LogoBARLEY & PFEIFFER ARCHITECTS was founded in 1989 by principals Alan K. Barley, AIA and Peter L. Pfeiffer, FAIA. It is a full-service firm that practices Green By Design. Believing that 90% of effective green building decisions happen in the first 10% of the design process supports the importance of regionally-appropriate design decisions and building systems integration. Rather than simply making sustainable material choices we go beyond the present green building paradigm.

What are some of the services your company provides?

Barley & Pfeiffer Architects has enjoyed success designing award-winning professional offices, recreational centers, churches, restaurants, educational facilities, and fine custom residences/renovations throughout the United States. Barley & Pfeiffer is proud to be pioneers of environmentally responsive “green” building design and construction techniques.

What are some examples of energy efficient design elements that follow your LEED initiative?

We actually do not subscribe to the US Green Building Council’s LEED initiative very often simply because there is a more appropriate, longer established and vetted green building rating program that is home-grown right here in Austin. Austin Energy’s Green Building Program is the first of its kind North America. We like it because it emphasizes passive solar design solutions, water conservation strategies, and improved indoor air-quality in our homes from a wiser choices/ more climate appropriate design point of view which make more sense for Central Texas.

What are some of the benefits associated with the concept of Green Building?

Our approach to Green Building makes for a “high performance” home- one that costs less money to operate, yet is more comfortable and will last longer than the typical new home built in Central Texas. Interestingly, often times we are actually able to show our clients and builders how to build a higher quality home with less money spent up front.

What is involved with the rainwater catchment design?

Firstly, I encourage our clients to put rainwater collection in perspective by asking them, “What is your goal?” If the goal is to reduce one’s reliance on municipal, city or well water, and to save money, there are other more effective means with which to conserve water- such as aggressively applying drought-tolerant “xeriscaping” strategies and using water-efficient plumbing fixtures such as dual flush toilets, better shower heads, front loading washing machiness, etc.
If the purpose of wanting to collect rainwater is for purer water that is gentler on your appliances and fixtures then we start off discussing budget and one’s desire to be involved with system maintenance. After designing them for two decades now we have found that effective and durable rainwater systems are not inexpensive and do require attention!

How does green building help make my home more energy efficient?

Tonjes A-T -500Rather than relying on expensive gadgets and gizmos that require maintenance, like tank-less water heaters, solar panels on the roof and geo-thermal heat pumps, our approach is to program the house wisely, and then design it so it needs less energy to operate. For example, a two-story house, with all the bedrooms on the second floor, is often inherently less energy consumptive than a spread-out one story plan. This is something we counsel our clients about BEFORE we start designing their home. Additionally, smart window placement and solar shading, as well as a “shading umbrella” roof system design greatly reduce the need for air-conditioning. Simple “green by design” strategies like this can save more energy than $30,000 of gizmos or gadgets- and don’t require upkeep.

Do you have any general advice for someone who wishes his or her home were “greener”?

Yes, hire a professional to help you prioritize where to put your money! There is no substitute for unbiased judgment and guidance that has been honed with a good education and years of experience. With all the information available on the Internet, one would think you could get the correct answers by simply doing a lot of reading. I have come to disagree. You have no idea who is endorsing or influencing the author to write the piece that may have you convinced to spend the extra $10,000 on this special wall system, etc.

What’s the best way for people to get in contact with you or your company?

BARLEY & PFEIFFER’S work has been featured in many national and international venues including the American Institute of Architects national conventions, the US Green Building Council’s Green Build annual conferences and the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders Shows. Their designs have been showcased in several publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Fine Homebuilding, The Washington Post, and USA Today. To “get the word out on Green,” BPA has been featured on National Public Radio, PBS-TV, HG-TV, and The Today Show along with being featured in several acclaimed books such as The Not So Big House series. The firm is also proud of its continued participation in many local, regional, and national home tours.
BARLEY & PFEIFFER ARCHITECTS consists of founding principals Alan K. Barley AIA and Peter L. Pfeiffer FAIA; and a well-rounded diverse staff of architects and building professionals. They have distinct and complementary strengths that give them the special skills necessary to perform to the unique and demanding expectations of their discerning clients.
Barley & Pfeiffer Architects
1800 West 6th Street Austin, Texas 78703
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Article courtesy of Central Texas Homes For Sale