The LEED Platinum Owen Residence sets an example in Arkansas

All images photo credit: 3wire Photography.

Winning "Project of the Year" and being named one of USGBC's three Outstanding Single-Family Homes in the 2018 LEED Homes Awards added more accolades to those already pouring in for the Owen Residence. The contemporary farmhouse-style home in Little Rock, Arkansas, is net zero, as well as the first single-family residence in the United States to achieve certification under LEED v4.1.

Showing what's possible

Certified LEED Platinum in March 2018, the home has received a great deal of attention since its completion, including local ABC TV coverage, a feature in Heifer International's magazine and a profile in At Home in Arkansas. The local USGBC Arkansas community recognized the home as 2018 LEED Residential Project of the Year at its annual Green Tie Awards.

However, what owners Ann and Rick Owen value most about all this attention is the opportunity to share an example with others about the achievability of green building. Several hundred people in the community have attended the various open house events the Owenses have hosted.

LEED Platinum Owen Residence

It has "helped to shine the light on LEED and sustainability in Arkansas, a state that hasn’t had much focus on green residential building," says Ann Owen. "Our hope is that others will see that economics go hand in hand with carbon reduction, and that the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit can be maximized with green building. We also hope that green features will become more valued with homeowners and home appraisers alike," she adds.

Because relatively few people in the Arkansas workforce have experience in green building methods, the project's builder, Keith Wingfield of River Rock Builders, found the mandatory LEED credit for subcontractor green education and training to be challenging to achieve.

"Subcontractors, primarily, are creatures of habit," says Wingfield, a LEED AP. "Unless they have worked for me, Little Rock’s only active Energy Star builder, then they haven’t been exposed to any of this, with the exception of what Energy Star promotes." Although the HVAC and insulation subcontractors were already experienced in sustainability, Wingfield needed to invest time in educating some of the other professionals with whom he subcontracted for the project.

He believes that if more education is made available in energy efficiency and economics, the citizens and building professionals in the state will come to see the value in green building. Emphasizing the better health and wellness associated with occupancy of green structures is another way Wingfield helps people to turn toward sustainability.

LEED Platinum Owen Residence

Settling in while standing out

Unusual aspects of the Owen home, for its placement in an older neighborhood, are its 42 solar panels and its landscaping absent of turf grass.

"Neighbors have been very complimentary, as both are attractive and well-integrated," says Owen.

The photovoltaic panels produce all the energy needed for the 2,662-square-foot home, as well as for two electric/hybrid vehicles. Instead of a traditional lawn, the landscaping includes native plants, and is irrigated in part by eight rain barrels. The driveway is made of permeable concrete.

Salvaging and sourcing to reduce waste

The Owenses were careful to salvage as much as possible from their previous home. All workable fixtures, appliances and other materials were saved and passed on to other community organizations for reuse, including Habitat for Humanity of Pulaski County, and the Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center, which used the sod from the yard for its new Nature Preschool.

The vintage brick used in building the new home was salvaged from the former historic Prescott Hardware Company building in southwest Arkansas. The home also incorporates recycled glass countertops and light fixtures that are either vintage or made from upcycled materials. Advanced framing techniques were used to reduce the amount of lumber needed for construction.

LEED Platinum Owen Residence

Prioritizing IEQ and energy efficiency

Indoor environmental quality LEED credits required work to attain, says Owen, because Wingfield had to closely monitor the relevant products to make sure that all of them were either low-VOC or low-emitting.

In addition, "he made sure our duct system was well planned and balanced to allow for proper air flow," says Owen. "We used a different kind of air cycler called an Air King that allowed us to bring in fresh air as needed, but to lock out the extremes of temperature and humidity."

To help achieve the team's energy efficiency goals, the insulation chosen for the attic and the walls was open cell spray foam, with an R-value of 15 in the walls and 38 in the attic. The crawl space walls also have closed cell spray foam insulation, with an R-value of 7.

LEED Platinum Owen Residence

Who made it happen: The Owen Residence team


Ann and Rick Owen


Herron Horton Architects


River Rock Builders

General contractor

Keith and Patty Wingfield, River Rock Builders, LLC

Suppliers and other providers

Ace Glass, Advanced Bath and Kitchen, Antique Brick & Block, Counterstones, Delta Faucets and Fixtures, Glass Recycled Surfaces, Hunter Douglas, Inside Effects, Little Rock Land Design, Louisiana Pacific, Lumber One Home Center, Metro Appliances, Moody Cabinets, Plumbing Warehouse, Pro Source Flooring, The Sherwin-Williams Company, Stellar Sun, TEC Lighting, Vetrazzo, Windsor Windows and Doors

*Bold text indicates USGBC members.

Common goals lead to an uncommon achievement

For those seeking to build a home to LEED standards, Ann Owens advises that "finding an architect and builder that is as passionate as you are about sustainability is really the key to ensuring that you will achieve your green building goals."

Next most important, she says, is to have your builder establish a solid energy plan. The Owenses' builder made efficiency and independence a priority—and the home's LEED Platinum status reflects the whole team's commitment to high standards in sustainability.

Learn more about LEED v4.1 for Residential