Gallery: GREAT GREEN HOME: Carter Burton Yoga Studio


What yoga does for the mind and soul, this thoughtfully-designed yoga studio does for its lucky green-minded inhabitants. Situated outside Washington DC in Clark County, Virginia, and designed by Carter + Burton Architecture, the small scale structure serves as a yoga studio and guest house for Annie and Paul Mahon’s main house 100 feet away. Despite its compact 600 square foot footprint, the studio packs in the best of the best of green technologies, from SIP-based construction to geothermal, passive solar, locally-sourced materials, green roof, and LED lighting. The clients’ and designers’ commitment to sustainability earned the project a LEED Gold certification when it was completed in 2007.

The yoga studio’s most sophisticated green system is their integrated geothermal heating system, which provides efficient space heating and cooling and all of the studio’s hot water needs. The system consists of a ground-coupled heat transfer loop (geoexchanger) connected to a liquid-to-liquid heat pump and a liquid-to-air heat pump. The loop employs vertical and horizontal ground tubing runs, and is sized to heat and cool both the studio and the main mouse.

Atop the structure sits a roof masterfully-engineered green by Building Logics. It features, indigenous trees, and succulents, and saves 30-40% on energy bills while retaining 70% of rain water to help with cooling and storm water management.

And inside the studio, an open plan features yoga space, in-floor bunks to sleep up to nine, bathroom, low-e custom wood windows, and a raised interior balcony area. All materials are as green as they get, from no VOC carpets and paints and radiant terrazzo to pollution abatement cement and reclaimed local wood. The clients were also very committed to using local craftspeople to support local economies. As for lighting, thanks to efficient windows and louvers, sunlight is well-regulated throughout the year, and complemented by LED track lighting.

From the architects: “The limited size of the existing house created a need for more space for friends and family and the privacy needed to meditate and enjoy yoga in this natural setting. The charge to build a private yoga studio afforded the opportunity to experiment with construction in a different expression from the main house while being sympathetic, not sentimental.”

+ Carter Burton Architecture


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  4. KM September 26, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    JS – you should read more about the Yoga Studio / Guest Retreat on Carter+Burton’s webpage. I think you’ll find additional information that may better explain the thoughfulness that went into the project. Also, the architect’s comment addresses some of your statements regarding renovating a room in the existing house:
    “The limited size of the existing house created a need for more space for friends and family and the privacy needed to meditate and enjoy yoga in this natural setting. The charge to build a private yoga studio afforded the opportunity to experiment with construction in a different expression from the main house while being sympathetic, not sentimental.”

    It is true, we all could just continue to reuse our existing structures and buildings, but without experimentation in building concepts and materials we would only continue to perpetuate the use of materials that are not “green”. Sure, we can remain static and perhaps that in and of itself could be considered “green”, but then we wouldn’t progress. The real goal in the eco-movement is to not have it be a “movement”, but for “green” building and construction in the manner to be a way of life don’t ya think? You must think so, otherwise you would not be checking out this blog! And there would be no blog if the guy that invented the computer listened to the naysayer who said, “But we have paper to write on!”

    Great dialogue from everyone!

  5. osi okonkwo September 26, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    The bed idea is genious and I am going to incorporate it into a garage expansion design I am working on. People need to stop getting on others for the homes they build, for all you know these guys are not millionaires. What you see might just be a lot of hard work, time and sacrifice investigating how to add all the right elements to bring it to life. You could probably start working on something similar instead of jumping into the next cardboard home. It is a journey and those who take it should be congratulated.

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  8. ricardo c. September 24, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    I would really like to see something, at least , close to this design where i live.It’s exhausting how homogeneus is the architectural develpment here.No more than 5 typologies repeting the same model to the limit.Nobody else can do something like the house posted here.I hope in the next years things change and star to apear good architecture where we live.

  9. art davis September 24, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    js may e-mail me at for further discussion and i have the first drafts of a possible new socio-economic system that i will be making more public soon for anyone else interested.

  10. JS September 24, 2007 at 9:05 am

    hmm…isn’t this more about convenience than seeking true spirit though? finding true spirit within challenging conditions is a central theme through eastern and transcendental systems. if anything, i’d argue that the system of capitalism you deride has created an illusion that seeing true spirit should only occur on the newest yoga mats, within shining studios…and in the most comfortable (and new!) clothes.

    capitalism seems apparent enough in this project.

  11. art davis September 23, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    spectacular design!
    thank you for taking this path of individual creativity instead of going for the mass production
    for those concerned about cost…
    as the past french president chirac eluded to during his speech to one of the recent world councils on the environment, we will need a major transformation of our socio-economic system! capitalism has only one focus: monetary profit. that’s it. and thus when everyone is racing to grab for as much money as they can and make money off as much land as they can by developing it, the planet… and most people, get relegated to destruction and poverty. not cool.
    we will absolutely have to transform out of this obsolete system. and we shouldnt let it continue to hold back human greatness, if it is respectful.
    on the yoga comment: the main focus of yoga/meditation, is to seek pure spirit. just putting a mat out in the freezing or rainy forest is inviting a whole variety of additional “physical” distractions and interruptions. could be an added test but a comfortable living area of one’s own design offers much less distraction.


  12. JS September 21, 2007 at 11:17 am


    I agree with most of your underlying argument, but if we really want to go reductionist, we should ask the question about whether additional disruption to the ecology and beauty of a forest ecosystem (based on the photos) is justified by the greenest yoga studio achievable?

    You’d think if yoga contemplates reconnecting with nature, you could just take your biodegradable mat outside.

    Other than that, I think underlying cost are a few essential assumptions…such as whether particular technologies actually need even be developed. The “greenest” thing you can really do, some argue, is nothing, not consuming. So if these customers had the means to build this studio, I’m sure they had the means to renovate a room in their existing home.

    So, really, improvement of what? And progress toward what?! I find it paradoxical that green design contemplates all sorts of theoretical, abstract and conceptual stuff such as “parking day” and discusses concepts like “progress” without ever really defining what we should be working toward?

    Your post would imply that progress is working toward “green technologies” that are more affordable…but a subtext of the cost criticism, I suspect, is the skepticism that things such as the greenest yoga studio will do anything to preserve and promote what anybody in sustainability is allegedly working toward…health in economic, equitable and ecological circles.

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  14. Jan Pylko Mayans September 20, 2007 at 7:08 pm


    I would like to echo the sentiment of those who inquired about the cost of this splendid, but undoubtedly, very expensive dwelling, along with the other “goodies”, such as the yoga studio, etc.. ONE element that meets ALL “pillars for sustainability” over time, in MY opinion, is the DUTCHTUB. As an owner (it’s not at my home yet, but it’s on it’s way), I can tell you that the price, while not inexpensive, is very “fair”, given that there are no “special needs”, such as plumbing, electricity, or any other “hidden costs” to install/operate the DUTCHTUB, that I am aware of. You can even save the water to recycle and water your yard! Great product! Also, I truly appreciate the excellent customer service, and the design of the TUB, that I find wildly attractive! You can even (for a bit extra $$) ASK THE TUB PEOPLE TO CREATE YOUR OWN COLOR, instead of going with the TUB’s currently available “mix” of colors, (wildly eclectic colors; great choices). Can you tell I LOVE the TUB?

    Jan Mayans, RN, BS, MBA
    Writer and Mother
    Santa Fe, New Mexico

    **I have no personal or financial interest in DUTCHTUB whatsoever, nor am I being compensated in any way for my comments. JPM

  15. speedmaster September 20, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Wow, that place looks great! I posted about it here.

  16. Margie September 20, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Let’s try this again: new technologies are expensive. They are adopted by those who can afford them and as more people buy, the prices come down to within reach of more and more people. If it weren’t for those who are willing to pay the high prices up front, none of the new technologies would ever become feasible for common usage.

    Why is it that the majority of the responders on this blog insist on making only negative comments and, more often than not, those comments assume that we live in a perfect world? We don’t. Improvement is a worthy goal and progress toward that goal should be applauded. Perfection is not achievable and if efforts such as this one were trashed because they aren’t perfect, no progress would ever be made!

    Finally, do you think the people who write these articles can get such information as the cost? You can go to the link provided to get more information from the source, I don’t find it surprising that the cost is very seldom disclosed on the internet.

    I think this site does a great job of bringing worthwhile projects to our attention and the constant criticism is ridiculous. No one who reads this needs to hear once again about costs. It is almost as over used as the one about smaller being more sustainable.

  17. Dutchtub September 20, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Love to see the tub in the background!

  18. Paul Batts September 20, 2007 at 9:27 am

    The bed solution would require that you never get the floor dirty as any dirt on the floor would go through an become dirt on your bed. That aspect could get tiring.

  19. Dan September 20, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Dito on the cost. It’s not sustainable if it’s not financially replicable by those of common means. For sustainability to have true benefit, it must integrate the tripod of pillars: environment, society and economy. Considering the local labor and superior materials, they’ve nailed two, but ignored the third. Much of the money spent on this would have been better utilized by a charity (and probably made the owners feel better).

  20. JS September 20, 2007 at 8:26 am

    Really great design but I bet that’s one of the most expensive 600 sq ft structures…I’d bet even beyond the Living Homes costs…

  21. destin September 19, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    would be curious to know the final cost of the structure.

    i think it’s a pertinent detail that seems to be omitted in every article.

  22. Nick Simpson September 19, 2007 at 5:15 pm


  23. keith Dewey September 19, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    cool – I really like the bed solution.

  24. Craig Mische September 19, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Nice job Carter + Burton!

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