The design of a home tends to reveal the values of its inhabitants: Perhaps a living room filled with artwork hints at a love of cultural pursuits or travel. A jumbo kitchen island prompts conversation about recent parties or delectable feasts.
In recent years, forward-thinking homeowners everywhere have explored what it means to build in the best interests of the environment, whether that means using responsibly sourced materials, clean electricity, or energy-efficient layouts based on daylighting principles. Incorporating these elements into a home doesn’t necessarily change its look, but it does make it more attuned to nature—and more nurturing for the lives it frames.
Below, we’ve rounded up seven homes that reflect their owners’ avid embrace of sustainable design.
Architect Ryan Bollom faced a formidable task when presented with this project in Texas Hill Country: He had to build a home for his retired parents and an adjoining property for his sister’s family. The result is a multigenerational hub that respects its location in all the right ways, including using rainfall-capture as the primary water source.
In Austin, a family of five lives comfortably in a compact, energy-efficient home, which makes the most of its narrow lot with adaptable spaces and enormous picture windows. It’s composed of two stacked volumes; the suspended one is larger than the base, creating a cooling overhang that complements a canopy of shade trees.
While surrounded mainly by snug, prewar summer cottages, Martha Moseley and Bill Mathesius have maximized their 7,200-square-foot lot by configuring 11 shipping containers on a raised concrete foundation, creating a custom home that includes an enormous skylight at the center.
When sustainable design activist Jeff Tannenbaum and his wife, Nisa Geller, teamed up with architect Shauna McManus to remodel a decrepit barn on their property in Long Island, New York, they set out to create a place where like-minded people from all sectors could gather and explore responsible building practices. Solar panels, triple-glazed windows, and reclaimed materials are just a few elements that make this home a showcase for eco-sensitive design.
Architect Allan Shope’s nearly 3,000-square-foot property on the banks of New York’s Hudson River is as much a retreat for its owner as it is a refuge for neighboring wildlife. Not only did Shope thoughtfully incorporate reclaimed materials into the design—like turning the site’s fallen black walnut trees into the home’s flooring—but he also made way for falcons to visit the area safely.
Set on 28 acres of land in rural Rhinebeck, New York, architect Steven Holl’s distinctive, self-reliant home is outfitted for sustainable living—from its energy-storage system and locally sourced furnishings, all the way down to its 3D-printed light bulbs made from a cornstarch-based material. The geometric windows provide plenty of light and deliver on design interest.
Dwell speaks with Brandon Weiss of Weiss Building and Development LLC about a passive property he built with the help of architect Tom Bassett-Dilley. Weiss discusses the rigorous parameters his design had to follow in order to meet certification requirements, and he shares how existing homes can be retrofitted to follow suit.
Learn about Green Mountain Energy and how to make your home more sustainable by visiting greenmountainenergy.com.
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