A pecan tree grows through the upper deck of Allen Buck and Yessica Chung's home. Photo by David Rangel.

Frustrated with continually rising rents in the downtown area, Allen Buck and Yessica Chung decided to embark on the journey of buying their first home. What they didn’t expect, after a two-month search, was they would ultimately purchase one of the homes they looked at on the first day of their search. That home was just awarded the City of San Antonio Green Building Awards 2014 Single Family New Construction Award.

Buck owns Asclepius Solutions, Inc., a healthcare digital marketing company based in downtown San Antonio. Chung is a retail pharmacist for a large corporation and works in Schertz. Both are graduates of the University of the Incarnate Word and had lived downtown for more than two years when they decided to purchase a home. They initially wanted a home near the Pearl, but the lack of inventory and escalating prices quickly forced them to pivot and explore other near-downtown neighborhoods, including Beacon Hill and Lavaca.

The home that won their hearts and minds is located at  327 E. Fest St. Buck was drawn to the home’s aesthetics, which reminded him of the work of German industrial designer Dieter Rams, whose designs inspired Steve Jobs. Chung loved the huge pecan tree projecting through the upstairs deck off the master bedroom. The tree reminded her of a restaurant in Panama where her father took her for breakfast every day before school. The restaurant had a large tree in the center of the space.

What Buck and Chung didn’t appreciate until they met with builder Juan Fernandez of CVF Homes was the extraordinary value of the extensive green building features incorporated in the home. As Fernandez explained, “By reducing, reusing and recycling the materials used to build the house (efficient floor plan, SIP panels, finished concrete floors, recycled drywall on-site, recycled cardboard and metal), using durable materials (steel, concrete, fiber-cement), and saving water and energy (super energy efficient HVAC, excellent insulation, low water flow fixtures) the life-cycle operation costs are reduced.”

Fernandez believes demand for green homes is growing in San Antonio, as people begin to understand the long-term benefits of owning a green home. He also looks for more new homes to incorporate green features as consumers demand a better product.

Homeowner Suz Burroughs agreed. She recently purchased a home in the Lavaca neighborhood that CVF Homes retrofit. It was the first historic house certified by the Build SA Green program. A Northern California native, Suz said the sustainability and energy savings provided by the green features of her home made it her choice over similar, less expensive homes that were not green retrofit. She’s now considering adding a solar carport to further lower the home’s carbon footprint and increase its value.

Chung and Buck say they would recommend a green home to anyone buying a home today, whether new construction or retrofit, because of the multitude of benefits, including environmental sustainability and pleasing aesthetics. Saving money also has been a huge plus of their new home. Their CPS bill for the month of May was $87. The bill for the same month last year in their small, one-bedroom apartment was more than $100.

To learn more about building or retrofitting a green home, Build SA Green maintains a list of builders and other resources for green homes.

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Angela Rinehart is the broker/principal of CGC Texas, a commercial real estate brokerage and marketing consulting firm based in downtown San Antonio. Ms. Rinehart has a M.B.A. in Real Estate Finance and...