7 (Nearly) Net-Zero Homes

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January 28, 2014
Hay insulation, passive solar, drought-tolerant gardens: Behold the following 7 houses from Dwell's pages that give back by striving for net-zero status.
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  With a sleek prototype in Emeryville, California, under its belt, Simpatico Homes sets out to redefine prefab's cost—and footprint. Instead of taxing the taps, the home’s drought-tolerant garden can be watered with runoff from the roof. Photo by Jake Stangel. 

    With a sleek prototype in Emeryville, California, under its belt, Simpatico Homes sets out to redefine prefab's cost—and footprint. Instead of taxing the taps, the home’s drought-tolerant garden can be watered with runoff from the roof. Photo by Jake Stangel. 

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  How an unfussy, nearly zero-energy family home in Santa Cruz, California, wound up with hay bales in the walls, a state-of-the-art heat pump system, and six very happy residents.Designed by architecture firm Arkin Tilt, Bernie Tershy and Erika Zavaleta’s 2,500-square-foot straw-bale home marries cutting-edge green technology with natural building techniques and locally sourced materials. Photo by Gabriela Hasbun.   Photo by: Gabriela HasbunCourtesy of: GABRIELAHASBUN©2012

    How an unfussy, nearly zero-energy family home in Santa Cruz, California, wound up with hay bales in the walls, a state-of-the-art heat pump system, and six very happy residents.

    Designed by architecture firm Arkin Tilt, Bernie Tershy and Erika Zavaleta’s 2,500-square-foot straw-bale home marries cutting-edge green technology with natural building techniques and locally sourced materials. Photo by Gabriela Hasbun. 

    Photo by: Gabriela Hasbun

    Courtesy of: GABRIELAHASBUN©2012

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  When Anders Stokholm asked his old friend Felix Jerusalem to design his family’s new home in Eschenz, a northern Swiss village on the Rhine River and Untersee Lake, the client and architect agreed that they didn’t want to disturb the ancient Roman artifacts buried in the property’s wet soil. But they did want something both modern and green.Jerusalem’s solution, the Strohhaus, beautifully merges the old with the new: The structure floats above the saturated ground on pilings—referencing building methods used in the area thousands of years ago, according to Zurich-based Jerusalem. And except for its concrete core, the entire house is made from slabs of prefabricated, formaldehyde-free compressed straw. 

    When Anders Stokholm asked his old friend Felix Jerusalem to design his family’s new home in Eschenz, a northern Swiss village on the Rhine River and Untersee Lake, the client and architect agreed that they didn’t want to disturb the ancient Roman artifacts buried in the property’s wet soil. But they did want something both modern and green.

    Jerusalem’s solution, the Strohhaus, beautifully merges the old with the new: The structure floats above the saturated ground on pilings—referencing building methods used in the area thousands of years ago, according to Zurich-based Jerusalem. And except for its concrete core, the entire house is made from slabs of prefabricated, formaldehyde-free compressed straw. 

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  Architect Rob Pyatt's box-shaped addition in Boulder, Colorado, is the modern kid on the block, with distinctive corrugated-metal and wide-plank cladding. Behind the facade, uncommon materials share a common story with the neighborhood: Of design decisions driven by a desire to keep the next generation—and the planet—healthy and safe. Photo by Dave Lauridsen.   Photo by: Dave Lauridsen

    Architect Rob Pyatt's box-shaped addition in Boulder, Colorado, is the modern kid on the block, with distinctive corrugated-metal and wide-plank cladding. Behind the facade, uncommon materials share a common story with the neighborhood: Of design decisions driven by a desire to keep the next generation—and the planet—healthy and safe. Photo by Dave Lauridsen. 

    Photo by: Dave Lauridsen

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  Standing proudly on the outskirts of the Danish city of Aarhus is an experimental eco-home where one brave family is testing out life with the latest cutting-edge sustainable design. For the past year, Sverre and Sophie Simonsen, along with their three children, Axel, nine, Anna, seven, and baby Marie, have been living in the world’s first Active House—a building so technically advanced that in 40 years it will have created enough energy not only to support the family inside along the way but also to pay back the energy used for its materials and construction: a house, in short, with no carbon debt. Photo by Jens Passoth.   Photo by: Jens Passoth

    Standing proudly on the outskirts of the Danish city of Aarhus is an experimental eco-home where one brave family is testing out life with the latest cutting-edge sustainable design. For the past year, Sverre and Sophie Simonsen, along with their three children, Axel, nine, Anna, seven, and baby Marie, have been living in the world’s first Active House—a building so technically advanced that in 40 years it will have created enough energy not only to support the family inside along the way but also to pay back the energy used for its materials and construction: a house, in short, with no carbon debt. Photo by Jens Passoth. 

    Photo by: Jens Passoth

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  In Holland, being green is not a choice, it's a governmentally enforced obligation. Architects Han van Zweiten and Gregory Kiss's project makes a case for obeying the law. Arranged and slotted together like a tidy row of Legos, the IJsselstein housing project reflects typical Dutch efficiency, “not just in terms of materials used,” notes architect Gregory Kiss, “but in terms of space as well.”

    In Holland, being green is not a choice, it's a governmentally enforced obligation. Architects Han van Zweiten and Gregory Kiss's project makes a case for obeying the law. Arranged and slotted together like a tidy row of Legos, the IJsselstein housing project reflects typical Dutch efficiency, “not just in terms of materials used,” notes architect Gregory Kiss, “but in terms of space as well.”

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  A net-zero prefab home design is set to reinvigorate a down-at-the-heels Los Angeles neighborhood. Components for low-cost prefab homes designed by Habitat for Humanity and the firm Minarc for South Central Los Angeles were trucked in and assembled over three days. Photo by Art Gray. 

    A net-zero prefab home design is set to reinvigorate a down-at-the-heels Los Angeles neighborhood. Components for low-cost prefab homes designed by Habitat for Humanity and the firm Minarc for South Central Los Angeles were trucked in and assembled over three days. Photo by Art Gray. 

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