LEED Platinum 2013
Las Casitas is the first and only LEED for Homes certified new construction project on Galveston Island.
The Las Casitas project, which consists of three bay cottages, is located on the original Massa Camp site on the Teichman Road peninsula on Galveston Island, Texas. Originally, the camp was developed in the early 1930s, with three small cottages on the property. After Hurricane Carla slammed the Texas Gulf coast in 1961, another small house was added to the site. In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed the entire property. The Las Casitas cottages were then built on the same site on the edge of Offatt‘s Bayou.
Las Casitas is the first and only LEED for Homes certified new construction project on Galveston Island. It is also certified by the Energy Star program.
There was a time window of five years to decide whether to rebuild or not. A year shy of the deadline for collecting wind and flood insurance, the owners decided to stay in Galveston and rebuild the camp next door to them. Resiliency, durability and efficiency were the main goals to achieve in rebuilding on the Texas coast with extreme conditions. The cottages are surrounded by marsh, so minimizing the footprint was paramount in design and construction.
Each of the three Casitas has just over 1,000 square feet under the roofline. Screened porches make up about one-fourth of each roofed area, facing the prevailing southeast Gulf breezes. Each cottage has two double bedrooms with one full bath and one half bath. The footprint is arranged in 9 bays upon 10" x 10" pilings driven 20 feet in the ground with the finished floor 16.5 feet above sea level, in compliance with the city and FEMA regulations in a flood zone. There are no corridors. All of the services ( water, sewer, gas, and electrical ) run 200 feet underground from the main road up through one enclosed bay, protected and hardened from future storm surge.
The windows and doors are hurricane resistant by PGT Winguard, Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and are Miami-Dade County approved. The interior doors were reclaimed from homes lost in Hurricane Ike. The countertops are paperstone, made from recycled and compressed paper with non-petroleum based resins. The furnishings are made from reclaimed wood, organic fabrics and soy-based cushions or bought in estate sales.
Rainwater is harvested through a 'wet system' from the roof. The 6" rolled gutter collects rainwater that flows to a 4" pipe that runs underground and back up into the 750-gallon tank. This system was used due to the logistics of the tank's location. The tank was fabricated on Bolivar Peninsula across the ferry, from a 5 foot diameter rain catchment tank. All of the landscape, native and adaptive plants grown from seed is irrigated with rainwater and air conditioning condensate stored in the tanks.
The heating and cooling system is an LG three-unit mini-split ductless system, 21.7 SEER. An extra layer of rigid board insulation was wrapped around the house. 2 x 6 stud walls were filled with EcoBatt® insulation. Foam insulation was considered, but rejected by the owners after battling with lost wires and pipes in the subfloor soffit when rebuilding after the Hurricane. They opted for batten insulation and achieved an Energy Star rating.
When designing and building Las Casitas, every decision revolved around thinking of how to survive storms, how to minimize wasting materials and space and use building methods that could be undone or repaired, if needed. We have a long history of moving houses on Galveston Island. When the ownership changes, something new comes to take the place of something old or storms do it for you.