Green Space

Marie Bossard and Tony Adrian live in a “green” house in the quaint community of Prairie Laurent, near Breaux Bridge. They catch rainwater and create their own electricity.

Imagine having a $0 electric bill and a $0 water bill. Here on 175 acres of fertile land, Bossard and Adrian are pioneers proving that you can go green.

“It has been exciting to carve out a way of life that isn’t dependent on the power company,” says Adrian, a green pioneer who runs his company, Nursing Data Inc., from a small room off of the kitchen that doubles as a pantry. “We have everything we need here, the air is fresh, and the quietness of nature is intoxicating. Our driveway is 6,250 feet from the nearest road, so we never hear the roar of cars and trucks.”

The Bossard-Adrian home was designed by Breaux Bridge architect Edward Cazayoux, a fellow in the American Institute of Architects and the former director of the School of Architecture at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. A noted authority on environmental architecture, he even named his company EnvironMental Design. “Marie and Tony gave me the opportunity to do something unique that pushed the green envelope of building a house that was truly self-sustaining,” he says. Cazayoux has received several grants to work on green-related projects and is a sought-after speaker on the subject. “Marie and Tony embraced the concept of living a sustainable life in an environmentally friendly home.”

The 1,200-square-foot home is surrounded by an 8-foot-wide porch. Wood is burned in two small iron stoves for warmth in the winter, and there is always a breeze to keep the home cool on even the hottest day of a Louisiana summer. “ I insisted that all windows must open,” says Bossard, a native of France, who met Adrian in 1990 when she came for a music-and-food festival in the area.

Adrian’s challenge to the architect was to incorporate recycled materials as much as possible. “I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of the pecan floors that I milled from trees that were pushed to the ground by Hurricane Lili,” he says.

The treasure hunt to find recycled materials even found Adrian scavenging an oil field salvage company for the scrap pipe that was used to create the stilts that prop the house up from the cement slab base. “Fortunately, we discovered Joe Barthelemy, an oil field master welder who was a genius when it came to dealing with the recycled drill pipe that had become magnetized by its former use,” Adrian says. “He knew exactly what to do, and it was amazing to watch him work.”

Adrian served as contractor for the project and hired Kip Cormier and Stuart Green, two 30-something master carpenters, to do the work. “Both were up to the challenge,” he says. Although Adrian is a registered nurse, he soon learned a lot about every building trade in the book. “You could call me a hands-on contractor,” he adds.

Today all of the home’s energy comes from solar panels situated in the side yard, and the water supply comes from the sky. The water is safely stored and filtered through a rainwater-harvesting system. The two major concepts of the house are shading and ventilation. “It’s how people used to build houses in Louisiana,” Adrian says. “The wind comes from the south over the trees and creates a negative pressure to pull air through the house.”

Architect Cazayoux calls it “suckulation” rather than ventilation.

One of the features inside the house –– which seemed like an amazing solution to the age-old question “Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean or dirty?” –– is twin dishwashers. “We eliminated the need for wall cabinets by having two dishwashers,” Bossard says. “One has clean dishes, and the other one is usually filled with the dirty ones, so there is never the chore of unloading the dishwasher and putting everything inside a kitchen cabinet.” Adrian adds, “And the extra dishwasher cost about the same as a good cabinet.”

So how is it to live in a green house? “We’ve been in the house for four years, and we just love it,” Bossard says with pride. Adrian agrees, adding: “It’s a wonderful way of life. We have proved that you can have a marvelous green home in Louisiana.”