The Village Park Eco Home in Highland Village will be open for tours on weekends through May 11.

Photos courtesy of Sterling Brook Custom Homes.


April 25, 2014

By Rita Cook 

If you want to see what a net zero-energy ready (still needs solar panels) house looks like, take a guided tour of the Village Park Eco Home in Highland Village. The model home built by Sterling Brook Custom Homes continues its free tours on weekends through May 11.  

Situated on a .27-acre corner lot in the Highland Oaks subdivision, the Eco Home allows North Texans to see how to build a high-performance, energy efficient home with a variety of sustainable and recycled materials, in an effort to minimize its impact on the environment. 

The house is a certified Department of Energy Challenge Home, Energy Star Home and Green Built Texas Home. Cherri Atkins of Atkins Design Group designed it and Wayne Atkins and Chris Miles of Sterling Brook Custom Home built it.

“This project is being done in conjunction with the Department of Energy’s Challenge Home, net zero-energy ready program and Building Science Corporation,” explains Miles. 

Wayne Atkins, owner of Sterling Brook Custom Homes, said the project was the chance to showcase what the next level of high performance home looks like. 

“We also wanted an opportunity to show how it will perform." 

The 3,278 square-foot homes' sustainable features include a metal roof and LP SmartSide siding of a material with a 50-year warranty that can be recycled. Bamboo tops were used on the fixed and moveable islands and standing dead red oak, touted for using no live trees, was used in the flooring. 

“The exterior has a lifetime standing seam metal roof,” says Miles. “All materials on the exterior require much less maintenance. The house was sprayed with a moisture and air barrier prior to installing the stone and brick, and the water lines were specially designed to deliver hot water to any fixture in the house in less than 45 seconds preventing water being wasted while one is waiting on hot water.”  

Other green features include garage doors that have 67 percent recycled content, cabinets that are formaldehyde free, engineered quartz countertops with bits of recycled glass mixed in, LED lighting and an AC system that cycles in fresh air every three to four hours. 

“This home will use approximately 50 percent of the energy of a home built to the current energy code,” Atkins says. “This will have a dramatic impact in energy usage over the life of the home. If the new homeowners add solar panels, the home could be net zero-energy.”

From an interior design perspective, Barbara Gilbert of Barbara Gilbert Interiors says her goal for the project was to use eco-friendly, sustainable, natural, recycled and reclaimed products whenever possible. 

“Not only did we choose eco-friendly products for the interior finishes but also for the furnishings. We felt that although people are going to tour the house to see the latest in building technology, they also expect to see finishes and furnishings that showcase the latest interior design trends.”  

One standout feature in the demonstration house is that one of the bedrooms was specially designed to reflect the wish of Cassidy, an imaginative 9-year-old Make-A-Wish North Texas recipient.  

“We had the opportunity, early on, to partner with Make-A-Wish North Texas to help raise money for their organization,” Atkins explains. “We chose a room in this home and ‘adopted’ Cassidy as our Make-A-Wish child. Cassidy’s wish was to become a zoo keeper -- a wish that was granted in March when she visited and ‘worked’ at the San Diego Zoo. We also had the opportunity to partner with Worlds of Wow. They were responsible in translating Cassidy’s wish into a whole-room mural.”  

The Eco Home is currently listed for $689,000. Atkins says that to build a similar home would cost $145 to $155 per square foot plus the cost of the lot. 

Phil Crone, executive officer of the Dallas Builders Association, says homebuyers have come to expect new homes to be more efficient than the one they are currently living in. 

“Things like location and school district are still primary deciding factors, but all things being equal, most consumers will look to the home’s efficiency as a deciding factor.”

The Eco Home is open Saturdays, 11am-4pm, and Sundays noon to 5pm through May 11. Visitors must park in the Marketplace at Highland Village Shopping Center and a shuttle bus will take them to the site for a guided tour. Details. 

Rita Cook is an award-winning journalist who writes or has written for the Dallas Morning News, Focus Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light, Dreamscapes Travel Magazine, Porthole, Core Media, Fort Worth Star Telegram and many other publications in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. With five books published, her latest release is “A Brief History of Fort Worth” published by History Press. Contact her at

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