Dive deeper into the meaning of "green."

By Lisa Skolnik
January 24, 2008
Jeff McNamara; styling by Brice Gillard

The materials we use to build our homes have a significantimpact on the environment. Why? Because that window you loverepresents embodied energy―the resources it takes to make,transport, and assemble it. Heating or cooling the space around thewindow requires still more energy.

Fortunately, it's possible to choose materials and home designsthat consume less energy and have a limited impact on theenvironment. You can opt for plans that use renewable products(bamboo flooring, for example), "right-size" the square footage toavoid wasted space, employ vernacular styles developed in responseto local conditions, conserve water, recycle, and more. All ittakes is planning.

One day, homes may be both zero-carbon and zero-energy. Thoughthat goal remains a dream, environmentalists believe it'spossible.