Four Cedars - The Westbrook House

The house is a passive / active solar home sitting on 2.2 acres of native woods and grasses in Fairview, Texas. The design, by Paul Westbrook, won the 1996 NAHB Energy Value Housing Award for Innovative Design in a warm climate.
Paul Westbrook released his book - The Joy of Efficiency. See details here.

 Passive Solar video; Active Solar video; Read some details about the house here (videos are also on that page). 
 | House pdf presentation |  | Introduction to Solar Electricity: pdf presentation | How did we do during the big TX freeze of 2021? - find out here.

Meet the Westbrook family. Weather Station Link  -  Latitude: 33deg 8'N, Longitude: 96deg 37'W, Elevation: 605.5'  * Scroll Down for More House Info *

Four Cedars - The Land

We started with a 2.2 acre parcel of property that had been relatively untouched by humans. We carefully selected the property using US Dept. of Agriculture soil maps, flood plain maps, aerial photographs and plant surveys. Our site contains an abundance of native trees, plants, grasses, and wildflowers. We preserved most of the site in its natural state and practice organic gardening principles to encourage biodiversity and wildlife. To read more about this process go to the Land Details. The name Four Cedars comes from four large Eastern Red Cedar trees that form a diamond shape pattern near the house site.

Four Cedars Land

Westbrook House

We designed the house with four major goals: energy-efficiency, environmental friendliness, low maintenance, and cost effectiveness. We chose a passive solar design with active solar water heating. The house was completed in September 1996. In 2012 we added solar electric generation. To learn more about efficient house design review the House page for the envelope and the Systems page for the mechanical and electrical systems. You can also view a detailed pdf presentation. See the results reflected in our low utility bills in the Utility Data section. Finally, the Tips page will provide tips for desiging a new home or retrofitting an existing home. 

Westbrook House

Land Details

Four Cedars is the name of our 2.2 acre property located in Fairview, Texas. It's a white rock escarpment jutting out of the blackland prairie. The soil is Eddy Gravelly Loam (Edd2) which is a stable soil due to its relatively low clay content. It's basically a soft limestone. Because the land was not suitable for farming it was generally left untouched. That allowed nature to develop a rich variety of native plants and trees. There were only two disturbed areas: 1) a former chinchilla barn which we cleared to site the house and 2) a mucky marsh near the street where the white rock had been mined for road fill. We excavated some rock to level the house pad then used it to fill the marshy area where we began a native meadow restoration project. We maintain our property using organic techniques. The main plants on our property are listed below.

Link to animal photos from our motion sensor camera on the lawn. Link to animal videos from our cameras. Our trail cameras are similar to this current Browning model. We use rechargeable AA batteries like these.  LInk to various animal photos taken around our property.

Native Trees

Texas Ash

Red Oak

Cedar Elm

Durand White Oak

Eastern Red Cedar

Black or Honey Locust

Mexican Redbud

Texas Redbud

American Elm



Carolina Buckthorn

Eve's Necklace

Mexican Buckeye

Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum


Bigelow Oak

Rough Leaf Dogwood

Shrubs and Bushes


Aromatic Sumac



Youpon Holly "Pride of Houston" - Ilex vomitoria

Compact Nandina - Nandina Compacta

Agarita -Berber's Trifoliolata

Texas Sage

Red Yucca

Rock Penstemon

Texas Sage "Green Cloud"

Compact Abelia - Abelia Grandiflora

Mountain Sage - Salvia Regla

Grasses / Wildflowers


Wine Cup

Mexican Hat

Indian Blanket / Firewheel

Barbara's Buttons

Purple Coneflower

Soft Yucca

Wood Violet

Viola Missoruiensis

Bushy Bluestem

Side Oats Gramma

Big Bluestem

Little Bluestem



Buffalo Grass '609' - Buchloe Dactyloides

Turks Cap - Malvaviscus Arboreus

Horseherb  - Calyptocarpus Viairs

Yellow Columbine - Aquilecia

Engleman Sage - Salvia Engelmannii

Mexican Bush - Salvia Leucantha

Mealy Blue Sage #1 - Victoria Salvia Farivacea

Local Animals




Road Runner









Blue Jay


Monarch Butterfly


Blue Heron

Fall color
Fall color on our wooded property with our solar house tucked into the woods