8 Surprisingly Sustainable Modern Homes

written by:
April 22, 2014
Here at Dwell, we love a good form, but only in tandem with function. These ultra-green, sustainable homes prove that a light footprint is possible no matter what the architectural style—the most modern approach of all.
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  The view from this almost-off-the-grid Maine cabin underscores its remote location on one of the outermost islands on the American eastern seaboard. The home sports four solar panels that easily collects a week’s worth of surplus energy when stored in auxiliary batteries. A hot outdoor shower works thanks to an on-demand, gravity-driven water heater, one of only two appliances to operate off propane (the other is the stove). Photo by Eirik Johnson.

    The view from this almost-off-the-grid Maine cabin underscores its remote location on one of the outermost islands on the American eastern seaboard. The home sports four solar panels that easily collects a week’s worth of surplus energy when stored in auxiliary batteries. A hot outdoor shower works thanks to an on-demand, gravity-driven water heater, one of only two appliances to operate off propane (the other is the stove). Photo by Eirik Johnson.

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  Traditional massing masks a super-performing structure, Chicago's first certified Passive House. The exterior was clad with LP SmartSide in alternating bands of textured and smooth siding and basement areaways are constructed of site-salvaged brick-filled gabions. Photo by Eric Hausman Photography.

    Traditional massing masks a super-performing structure, Chicago's first certified Passive House. The exterior was clad with LP SmartSide in alternating bands of textured and smooth siding and basement areaways are constructed of site-salvaged brick-filled gabions. Photo by Eric Hausman Photography.

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  From an ecological perspective, pneumatically impacted stabilized earth (PISE, pronounced “pee-zay”) is a nearly perfect building material. A Sea Ranch-inspired house, halfway between Carmel and Big Sur, near California’s central coast, showcases the material's residential potential.

    From an ecological perspective, pneumatically impacted stabilized earth (PISE, pronounced “pee-zay”) is a nearly perfect building material. A Sea Ranch-inspired house, halfway between Carmel and Big Sur, near California’s central coast, showcases the material's residential potential.

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  While the proportions of an old Park Slope brownstone’s facade remain congruous with others on its street, the stone has been replaced with stucco over foam. When knocked, it sounds entirely hollow--just one of the many surprisingly green facets of this Passive House remodel. Photo by Hai Zhang.  Photo by: Hai Zhang

    While the proportions of an old Park Slope brownstone’s facade remain congruous with others on its street, the stone has been replaced with stucco over foam. When knocked, it sounds entirely hollow--just one of the many surprisingly green facets of this Passive House remodel. Photo by Hai Zhang.

    Photo by: Hai Zhang

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  For this family home in Healdsburg, California, architect Michael Cobb used Agriboard, a structural insulated panel made from oriented strand board and a compressed agricultural fiber core: “It represents an affordable way to build with relatively unprocessed materials,” he says. Photo by Drew Kelly.   Photo by: Drew KellyCourtesy of: Drew Kelly

    For this family home in Healdsburg, California, architect Michael Cobb used Agriboard, a structural insulated panel made from oriented strand board and a compressed agricultural fiber core: “It represents an affordable way to build with relatively unprocessed materials,” he says. Photo by Drew Kelly. 

    Photo by: Drew Kelly

    Courtesy of: Drew Kelly

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  The Casa Cuatro in Chile sits above a 180-foot cliff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The locally quarried stone makes the house blend in with the landscape and acts as a thermal-mass wall, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it through the evening. A set of solar panels, a wind-powered well, and passive sustainable strategies make living miles from municipal utilities a non-issue. Photo by Cristóbal Palma.   Photo by: Cristóbal Palma

    The Casa Cuatro in Chile sits above a 180-foot cliff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The locally quarried stone makes the house blend in with the landscape and acts as a thermal-mass wall, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it through the evening. A set of solar panels, a wind-powered well, and passive sustainable strategies make living miles from municipal utilities a non-issue. Photo by Cristóbal Palma. 

    Photo by: Cristóbal Palma

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  For this rural Ontario home, building sustainably was less about high-tech gizmos than learning to truly love the land. Doors and triple-glazed casement windows from Loewen work hard to form a tight thermal envelope. Photo by Derek Shapton.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton

    For this rural Ontario home, building sustainably was less about high-tech gizmos than learning to truly love the land. Doors and triple-glazed casement windows from Loewen work hard to form a tight thermal envelope. Photo by Derek Shapton.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

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  Among the first Passive Houses in France, this bamboo-clad farmhouse by the Parisian firm Karawitz Architecture brings a bit of green to tiny Bessancourt. With the roof angled at 43 degrees, the architects lined the southern slant of the house with 27 Systaïc solar panels to collect as many rays as possible. Photo by Nicholas Calcott. 

    Among the first Passive Houses in France, this bamboo-clad farmhouse by the Parisian firm Karawitz Architecture brings a bit of green to tiny Bessancourt. With the roof angled at 43 degrees, the architects lined the southern slant of the house with 27 Systaïc solar panels to collect as many rays as possible. Photo by Nicholas Calcott. 

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