Design for Life: Austin: Green and Red-Hot

When it comes to sustainable living, these Texans don’t mess around.


| January/February 2011



Gail Vittori and Pliny Fisk

Gail Vittori and Pliny Fisk are green-building trailblazers who develop cutting-edge, eco-friendly housing solutions at the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, established in 1975.


Photo By Carol Venolia

Austin, Texas, isn’t just home to great food and music; it’s also a hotbed of green living. So when Design~Build~Live, an Austin sustainable learning center, invited me to give some presentations, I jumped on it. During the days between my talks on natural remodeling and life-centered design, DBL members took me on a whirlwind tour of some favorite spots.

I immediately felt at home at my hotel, Habitat Suites. Live plants grew in every room, lamps had compact fluorescent bulbs—and Natural Home graced the coffee table. Strolling the grounds, I enjoyed edible landscaping, herb spirals, native plants, rainwater barrels, photovoltaic panels, and a swimming pool treated with salt, not chlorine. The buffet featured fresh, healthy options and herbal tea. I was in heaven.

Go Native with Abandon 

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center—279 acres supporting 650 species of Texas native plants—was a top-priority visit. Regional vernacular styles came alive in buildings made of local stone, fountains and pools fed by rainwater, a stone aqueduct, and a dramatic lookout tower. We strolled from the entry courtyard to a shady woodland garden, then toured 23 theme gardens showcasing everything from medicinal herbs to deer-resistant plants. A ramble through the Homeowner Inspiration Gardens and butterfly garden led out along trails through expansive meadows and woodlands. I could have spent days there.

If you can’t get there in person, check out the Center’s website for images, articles, a national native plant database (including pictures) and information on topics from fire ecology to green roofs to seed saving.

Green Homes Come Alive 





mother earth news fair

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!

LEARN MORE