LEED-Certified Home: Casona de Pappas Is Making Downtown Tempe Greener

The luxury home claims to be the highest-rated LEED Platinum home ever.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified homes go above and beyond when it comes to adhering to environmentally-friendly design and execution. There are four levels of certification, which are awarded based on how far homeowners can push the green envelope: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Casona de Pappas was the first home in Tempe, Arizona to receive Platinum LEED status. It earned an impressive 119.5 points on the 90-point Platinum scale, leading it to claim to be the highest-rated Platinum home in history.

The 7,507-square-foot, three-story home was built on a vacant developed lot in the heart of downtown Tempe. This eliminated the need for making any major changes to the land, and most of the material from the original two structures—around 90%—was fully repurposed. Utility hookups were already available onsite, minimizing the time and resources necessary to install the infrastructure for power, water and sewage to the home. This certainly got the construction off on the right foot.

In addition, the centrally located residence has quick and easy access to public transportation, local parks, schools, restaurants and everything else the city has to offer.

Solar Power and Orientation

Casona de Pappas was intentionally designed to maximize solar exposure to the home, as the majority of the home’s energy is supplied by Solar Photovoltaic panels on the roof. Its high-efficiency windows have removable awnings to utilize solar shifts between summer to winter as well as throughout the day. The home also has a battery backup system that stores energy for emergencies and even regifts it back to the grid for other buildings to tap into.


Casona de Pappas fiercely protects its onsite vegetation and includes no-disturbance zones. Silt fencing is installed around the entire perimeter bolstered by permanent soil erosion controls. Further, all displaced topsoil was reused during construction. The landscape design smartly incorporates many drought-tolerant plants, reducing the need for irrigation.

Rainwater Harvest

The home touts an underground cistern that can store over 6,000 gallons of rainwater. It also has a greywater system for repurposing non-toilet waste from washing machines and dishes. The rainwater system harvests 100% of the home’s roof runoff, which is also used for its basement aquaponics system—a massive tank for tilapia fish and a garden chock full of herbs and greens for sale to local restaurants.

Energy Efficiency

Casona de Pappas’s insulation is tightly sealed for highest efficiency. The home has a state-of-the-art HVAC system that refreshes the indoor air while recovering energy from exhaust air streams, therefore controlling humidity levels—and the owner’s energy bill.

The smarthome is fully automated, allowing residents to control the temperature and lighting in each area independently while the energy system adjusts its output accordingly. It’s no wonder the home earned an impressive “5” rating from the Home Energy Standards index as well as achieving Environmental Protection Agency Indoor AirPlus status.

All cooking areas ventilate directly outdoors. Every appliance is electric except for the gas beer brewing station in the basement. The home also has a cutting edge zero-emission pizza oven. Pizza and beer, anyone?

Building Materials

Casona de Pappas is carpet-free, and all wood details are coated with a low volatile organic compound stain and installed with safe adhesives. Further, most of the wood throughout the home was sourced locally or Forest Stewardship Council certified. In fact, when an ash and a pecan tree needed to be uprooted during construction, they were both repurposed into the front door and the bar. It’s no wonder the residence claims to divert 88% of waste from the landfill.

Casona de Pappas is a model of sustainable construction. And with that fish tank, pizza oven and beer, it’s also one of the most fun.

If you're interested in learning more about the specifics of LEED-certification, take a look at USGBC's Guide to Certification.