One of Texas’ most eco-friendly structures is nestled in an unassuming native prairie landscape near Decatur. Named the Betty and Clint Josey Pavilion, the self-sufficient building promotes sustainable land management through education and demonstration. The 5,400-square foot open-air pavilion is 100 percent powered by solar, uses zero air conditioning, harvests rainwater, and treats all wastewater on-site. San Antonio-based firm Lake|Flato Architects designed the award-winning pavilion to meet the standards of the Living Building Challenge, a sustainable building certification system more rigorous than LEED or BREEAM.
The Josey Pavilion was built for the Dixon Water Foundation, an environmental group that “promotes healthy watersheds through sustainable land management to ensure that present and future generations of Texans have the water resources they need.” The pavilion comprises two low-lying buildings—the first serves as the education pavilion, and the second houses the herbarium, restrooms and kitchen—connected by a shared gutter and arranged around a central gathering space with an existing heritage Live Oak. The pavilion is made from FSC-certified and salvaged lumber as well as other low-impact, locally sourced, and non-toxic materials.
Designed to be comfortable year-round without relying on mechanical heating or cooling, the Josey Pavilion was built with passive design principles. Its gapped wood doors, deep shady porches, and proximity to the Live Oak help capture cooling summer breezes from the southeast and bring them deep into the building. The arrangement of the building volumes helps block harsh northwestern winter winds.
As a demonstration tool for protecting the watershed, the pavilion treats all wastewater and stormwater on-site through swales and a constructed wetland. The filtered water is then reused in the kitchen and bathroom sinks or returned to the native prairie landscape. The building generates all of its energy needs through rooftop photovoltaic panels. The pavilion was completed in spring 2014 and is currently undergoing Living Building evaluation. If certification were granted following the one-year performance evaluation, which ends in October 2015, the Josey pavilion would be the first Living Building in Texas.
Images via Lake|Flato Architects, © Casey Dunn