Use ideas from these real, eco-friendly houses and gardens to green-up your own home.
The radiant heat system underneath this concrete tile floor significantly reduces the homeowners’ reliance on a traditional heat system during the winter months.
Made of light-colored steel, this roof reflects the sun’s heat and extends about 2 feet beyond the house’s wall, creating ample shade for the windows below.
The fundamental material for these barstools is wheatboard. Unlike woods and teak, whose harvest requires the destruction of slow-growing forests, harvested wheat replaces itself quickly.
Closed-cell spray foam insulation wraps the entire exterior and attic space of this home. It regulates the temperature inside the house by absorbing cool air in winter and warm air in summer.
This house is totally off the grid: Solar panels and a wind turbine capture the elements to make power; a high-tech system purifies wastewater.
Inside this home low-VOC paints, and reclaimed-pine flooring and paneling milled from locally harvested yellow pine was used to reduce air pollution. Instead of accepting factory-applied coatings with high levels of VOCs, they finished the sustainable material on site to lower levels of offgassing.
This home is built of durable building materials which tolerate seaside conditions better than standard options. With little need for replacement, less waste will be generated in years to come.
The barnlike shape of this home does more than mimic this area’s architectural vernacular. Curved roofs aid airflow for natural ventilation. Large banks of windows capture natural light, and the southern exposure takes full advantage of sunlight for solar gain in cool weather. During summer, leaves on the trees shield the house from direct sun.
This dining room’s garage-style door permits instant access to the deck area and admits cooling breezes. Skylights eliminate the need for lighting during the day.
A mix of sustainable and healthy products, such as bamboo floors and formaldehyde-free fabrics, introduces fewer chemicals in the environment of this home. There’s no one part that makes this a healthy house. It takes all the pieces working together.
This house’s cedar-plank siding, which is resistant to pests and water, is both strong and low-maintenance. Its beautiful gray patina also means infrequent repaintings.
Common real estate practice places a premium on coastal bluff homesites, but the landscape architect of this development had a different idea of value: Instead of giving that prime location to a single homeowner, he left the bluffs open to all, thus making them a community amenity. He also allowed only 50 percent of the land for private ownership, designed roads to follow the land’s natural contours, and emphasized the bluff, meadow, hedgerow, and forest over ostentatious house placements.
Save trees and trim your energy bill! The placement of this house and its decks was dictated by the existing trees, limiting the number that were cut during construction. In return, the trees provide shade that keeps the house cool.