The key innovations
Poured-earth walls create a patterned effect and add insulation. The multihued layers of earth turn the stair wall into a natural mural.
The well-insulated roof is supported on ready-made curving laminated beams. The lower section, which extends into the interior, has galvanized metal roofing and an interior light shelf that reflect low-angle winter sunlight onto the curving ceiling and deep into the living space.
The 3-kilowatt photovoltaic array is tied into the electric company's grid, allowing Frerking to sell excess solar-generated energy to the local utility.
An attached sun space on the lower level collects heat for growing fresh vegetables, while heating the main floor mass from below.
A heat-recovery ventilator mixes outside air with captured heat or cool air, so fresh air is provided without compromising energy efficiency.
Native and drought-tolerant plants are used for landscaping.
Low-cost precast concrete tiles are set in sand over a standard membrane roof to create exterior decks.
Design: Michael Frerking, Living Systems Sustainable Architecture, Prescott, AZ (www.michaelfrerking.com or 928/717-2566)
Construction: Darren Haenny, Wolf Environmental, Sedona, AZ (www.wolfenvironmental.com or 602/526-1299); Royce Carlson, Cosmic Steel, Prescott (www.zenzibar.com/cosmicsteel or 928/445-3831)