Location: 1315 Barbara Jordan Blvd Austin, TX 78723
Description: The Ronald McDonald House has been in operation in the Austin area since 1985, providing lodging and support services to families of critically ill and injured children. It continues this mission in its newest facility, the Healthy House for Healthy Children, completed in 2007 as part of the Mueller Development.
+ Certified LEED Platinum by the USGBC in 2008.
+ 30 suites available to families of the critically ill and injured children.
+ Situated on a site previously classified as a Brownfield.
+ Features a Green Roof system that reflects heat and reduces the urban heat island effect.
+ Controlled reflectivity of building materials and diffuse lighting reduces light pollution.
+ Xeriscape and native landscaping reduces the amount of water needed for irrigation.
+ 54 photovoltaic solar panels provide clean energy to the campus.
+ Majority of building materials produced or procured within a 500 mile radius of site.
+ Low VOC materials used throughout the construction and ongoing maintenance of facilities.
+ Low flow and high efficiency water fixtures reduce water consumption by up to 30%.
Conclusion: The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin & Central Texas campus provides valuable insight into the benefits of sustainable design to a non-profit organization. While the initial construction of the facility may have been at a slight premium over a conventional (and less sustainable) design, the long-term operational cost savings compensate handsomely. Apart from the “green design” element of the site tour, however, I was struck by the numerous examples of social sustainability. The home cultivates a unique sense of community among its temporary residents, promoting social interdependence and psychological wellness. It was also apparent that the House actively engages with its surrounding community, raising awareness through action, rather than advertisement. Indeed, it was these social aspects that I found to be the most enlightening, although it’s also wonderful to see non-profits leading charge for operational efficiency and innovation.
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