This state-of-the-art energy efficient home at 1025 Lane St in Irving will be open to the public Friday and Sunday.
Oct. 6, 2023
There are only two homes in Texas on the National Solar Tour this weekend and they’re both located right here in North Texas.
One is a rural home in Greenville showcasing a 36-panel ground mounted system — a rarity in urban settings.
But more accessible and likely more interesting to urban dwellers is Bill Byrom’s house — a new 3,100-square-foot home in Irving featuring some of the latest advancements in urban sustainability.
Byrom’s home at 1025 Lane St. in Irving will be open Friday, Oct. 6, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 8, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The event is free.
The National Solar Tour is hosted annually by the American Solar Energy Society. The event is designed to showcase real-life applications of renewable energy and sustainability via open houses held by residents and some businesses across the county.
Since 2010, the North Texas Renewable Energy Group has hosted a local solar tour in conjunction with the national tour. At its peak, the local grassroots event grew to include more than 50 homes and public buildings, spanning seven counties.
The massive self-guided tour required as many as 150 volunteers spread across the Metroplex. In 2019, organizers were awarded the Green Source DFW Volunteer Award for the tour’s excellence.
When the pandemic hit, the tour went virtual for two years. That was followed by a down-sized in-person event held last year.
So this year, organizers decided to take a hiatus.
Robert Lagerblad, event coordinator for NTREG, said the group’s in-person meeting attendance is still down following the pandemic. Group leaders determined they didn’t have enough volunteers or hosts to put the event on this year.
“We didn’t have the time and resources this year,” he said. "We’ll see what happens next year."
Meanwhile, this spring NTREG member Byrom had moved into his state-of-the-art energy efficient home and was ready to show it off. With the DFW Tour canceled, he decided to join the National Solar Tour on his own.
Byrom, a 70-year-old retired electrical engineer, has lived on the property since 1994. The original home was built circa 1960. After he retired in 2019, Byrom had wanted to build a new house using some of his retirement money.
Byrom said his old house had many issues, including major foundation problems, which caused other problems. The plumbing had kinks in it. Plus half the backyard was concrete, an aesthetic choice he didn’t like.
“The building systems in my house were falling apart and going bad,” said Byrom. “For a number of reasons I wanted to start over.”
So in 2020, he began designing a new home to be built on the same site. He decided to go big, when it came to sustainability.
He enlisted the help of Tony Robinson of Dallas-based Axis Design-Build.
"To build an extraordinary high-performance building like this one, you need persistence, determination, and a great client like the owner Bill Byrom," said Robinson.
Byrom said while Robinson and his firm created the final plans, Byrom sketched out many of the home’s design features himself, saying he was "intimately involved with every step."
First, he and Robinson worked out solutions for the properties problematic soil issues. EPA-approved chemicals were injected into the clay soil to stablize it.
Then a geothermal HVAC system was installed by Dallas-based Excel Geothermal deep under ground. The system also produces the home’s hot water.
“It’s the most energy efficient heating and AC technology,” said Byrom.
During the process, Byrom moved into the house across the street. He had the old home demolished.
They had started the project just as the pandemic hit. At times, shortages of building materials and labor stalled progress. But three years later, Byrom finally spent the first night in the home in March.
MORE CUSTOM FEATURES
Byrom’s home includes many smart design features, thanks to a team of experts who lent a hand on the project.
Michael Fladmark, who worked on the home’s solar system with solar experts Dan Lepinksi and Roni Kent, said it's "boutique" teams, like those that worked on Byrom's house, that can be highly innovative with successful results.
“The house is like an experiment,” said Fladmark.
The metal roof is shaped in a butterfly pattern. The “cool” roof has a high solar reflectance and high thermal emittance. The roof’s slant was built at a 30 degree angle — calculated for maximum effectiveness of the solar panels.
The battery system allows the home to run off-grid.
“Most people with solar, if there’s a grid failure, there is no way for them to disconnect from the grid,” said Byrom. “This system has a switch that disconnects me from the grid and switches to the battery instantly.”
The front windows are small, which is also by design. The house is located on a corner lot, adjacent to a busy intersection and medical center. So larger windows, including one nine feet tall, are located on sides facing away from the urban center. The home was also built using a noise deadening sheet rock.
Low VOC materials were used for the interior, including cork flooring throughout the house. Cork also helps to insulate the home.
LED lighting is used with the smart lighting system. A spiral staircase leads to a second floor, which includes extra bedrooms and all of the control panels for the home's energy systems.
Outside, a rainwater collection system sends water to two large underground tanks, which will be used for irrigation. Any overflow is pumped to a system of rain gardens.
Byrom vowed his yard will not include a scrap of traditional lawn, which he describes as a wasteful use of resources.
"I think carpet grass is the stupidist thing in the world," joked Byrom. "You put gallons of chlorinated treated water on it. You mow it with gas-powered equipment and then you fertilize it."
This week, a crew was installing native Texas landscaping, days before Byrom’s open house.
Byrom says he believes the home will prove to be a zero-energy building. But he won't be able to prove that until Robbins completes a year-long energy audit to determine the home’s total energy usage.
“Bill is so happy and proud of his house,” said Fladmark. “He wants to show it off.”
National Solar Tour aka Bill Byrom's Open House
HOSTED BY: Bill Byrom
ABOUT: Irving resident Bill Byrom is hosting an open house to show off his recently completely state-of-the-art energy efficient home.
Features include a 14.4 kW DC solar grid connected house, which can operate independent of the grid using a large battery. The building has a geothermal ground source heat pump HVAC system, which also provides hot water. A rainwater collection system provides irrigation water for the landscaping, which makes use of native and drought resistant plants. The building envelope includes ventilated roof and wall systems, structural foam insulated sheathing panels, a standing seam metal cool roof, and a post-tensioned slab installed on chemically treated soil due to the local soil properties.
WHEN: Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct.8, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
WHERE: 1025 Lane St., Irving
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