Environmentally conscious homes and buildings come in all different shapes, sizes, and styles. There is nothing that says what a green structure should or shouldn’t look like. This leaves everything open for personal function and individual taste.
Chrysalis Farmhouse is the home of Marcia Halligan and Steven Adams, two Wisconsin farmers who chose to use weak and diseased trees in the construction of their home. Architect Ronald Gundersen’s technique uses whole, un-milled, “Charlie Brown” trees - in this case, weedy box elders, slender ironwoods, invasive black locusts, wind-bent hickory and diseased elms - to create sturdy, elegant homes while preserving the mature forests around them. Gundersen shaped the roof from wind-bent trees to mirror the hills of southwest Wisconsin’s Driftless Region. Gundersen built three of the home’s walls using straw bales and finished them with a coating colored with green sand from the cliffs of a nearby river. The south-facing wall has passive-solar windows and a greenhouse where the soil and plants clean exhaust from the bathroom, kitchen and laundry. The sun, a woodstove and in-floor heating supplied by an on-demand water heater warm the home. The couple relies primarily on solar-electric power, with grid-supplied backup. They plan to be completely off the grid in the future. This home also features ecosolutions hemp fabric ceiling used to create an extremely insulated straw bale roof, a passive-solar window wall with black-locust shade balconies, recycled windows and doors, marmoleum floors, and a sawmill powered by recycled vegetable oil. “There’s a feeling in our house like we’re in a grove of trees,” says Marcia. “There is all this tree energy. It’s very beautiful and very nurturing.”
This is an eco-friendly dome home from Solaleya. It’s a circular loft with plenty of skylights and a solar array on top, gently rotating to orient itself guided by the sun. The structure can rotate towards or away from the sun in order to balance inside temperature and reduce energy consumption while allowing you to have a change of scenery. The durable domes are constructed using only FSC-certified wood and have been proven to withstand category 5 hurricanes and earthquakes up to magnitude 8 on the MSK scale.
Solaleya’s dome homes feature a 90% wood construction and are insulated with cork. The roofs feature sky-facing windows which suffuse interior spaces with light. An optional feature is a small mechanical structure in the base that allows the domes to rotate. According to Solaleya, turning the house 360 degrees requires roughly the same amount of energy as vacuuming the house once, and in partially-shaded areas this allows the home to maximize the amount of sun absorbed by solar panels on the roof. Solaleya domes are the brainchild of Patrick Marsilli, who built his first model in France in 1988. Unsurprisingly, his house drew some stares and inquiries, and his company has since built more than 130 elsewhere in France, and more around the world.
Communitecture specializes in sustainable design, and the Bloom House is a great example, made with locally harvested oak structural columns and salvaged materials from nearby barns. The Bloom House is also interesting to look at due to its unique shape. The home incorporates trapezoids rather than rectangles and Serpentine lines and ripples of rivers flow through the plan, which pay homage to the builder's love of water and fish.
From the natural cork and concrete floors to the hand-applied plaster walls, this home uses eco-friendly materials throughout. Recycled timbers are used within the structure, while straw bale exterior walls provide remarkable insulation value. Passive solar design, solar hot water feeding the in-floor radiant heat, and energy-efficient appliances keep energy consumption to a minimum. Formaldehyde-free cabinets and non-toxic furnishes mean the owner and her children can breathe easy. Creative touches like the "draw bridge" entrance, angled dormers and curved openings add a whimsical nature to this Tranquil home, which earned PGE's Earth Advantage certification. Also featured in this home are hand-applied plaster walls, recycled timber frames, cork and concrete flooring, passive solar design, solar hot water charged radiant floors and more. This home is product of Cheryl Heinrichs Architecture, and is located in Bend, Oregon.
The Gatehouse was designed by DeBoer Architects. This one-bedroom passive solar straw- bale insulated home features earth-plaster walls, radiant-heat floors stabilized with linseed oil, and a woven bamboo-mat ceiling with bamboo trim. While small in size, the open floor plan and rows of windows brighten the entire structure, making it appear more spacious.
This is the first residential building to receive the USGBC’s Platinum LEED-H rating, and due to the media frenzy associated with this home, it has raised the bar for what’s possible in residential construction: zero energy, zero water, zero waste, zero carbon, and zero emissions. LivingHomes received a total of 91 out of a total possible 108 points required to obtain the Platinum rating. It will be 80% more efficient than similar sized home and was constructed with 75% less waste than a traditional one. Some green features of this house include a rooftop photovoltaic system, radiant heating system within the floor, grey water system for irrigation, LED lighting, EnviroGlas recycled glass countertops, and the use of low-VOC paints and FSC-certified lumber. Visit the Living Homes website to learn more about this truly unique home.