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25 Greenest Homes in the World

In honor of Earth Day, we’re rounding up some of the most innovative, eco-inspired homes in the world. Homes that are sustainable, smart, and environmentally conscious. Homes that make energy, instead of using it. (We’d like that gas bill, please!) Homes that will blow your mind.

Although this list certainly includes some futuristic designs (like rotating houses) and multi-million-dollar price tags, most use materials and ideas that you could easily implement in your own “green home” upgrades:


  • zeroHouse 1 of 25
    zeroHouse
    zeroHouse is a pre-fab home (which can be yours for $350,000) that's designed to be completely self-sufficient — meaning there's no outside utilities needed. zeroHouse produces power through solar panels and stores it in batteries, collects its own water, and it even turns your waste into compost. Plus, all of these functions work with automatic sensors that can be controlled through your laptop. Believe it or not, that's just the beginning of this feature-packed eco dream.
    See more at zeroHouse
  • Hong Kong Space Saver (aka The Domestic Transformer) 2 of 25
    Hong Kong Space Saver (aka The Domestic Transformer)
    This video of an itty bitty Hong Kong apartment went viral by nature of its sheer innovation. Architect Gary Chang took a 330-square-foot apartment (typical in jam-packed Hong Kong) and installed sliding walls to create 24 different living configurations. Chang also used sunlight-tinted windows, reflective metals, and mirrored surfaces to: A) create the illusion of more space, and B) eliminate
    artificial lights.
    See the full video at World's Greenest Homes (PlanetGreen.com)
  • The Dome House 3 of 25
    The Dome House
    The International Dome House Co. builds these eco-minded prefab buildings that can be used as homes, offices — anything, really. The shape alone saves energy (better circulation), makes it structurally stable, and helps dissipate wind energy. Plus they're built from expanded polystyrene, which is an extremely clean material that requires no deforestation or waste.
    Read more about the Dome House
  • The Orchid House 4 of 25
    The Orchid House
    Located on a nature reserve in England, this 2400 square-ft. house is part of a green home building project called Lower Mill Estate (that specializes in building "sustainable vacation homes"), and it caught some buzz as being the most expensive "green home" ever sold at $14.2 million. Its eco-features include a geothermal heating underground pump that promises to generate more energy than it consumes.
    See more eco-friendly homes from Lower Mill Estate
  • Athena Marie Plantation 5 of 25
    Athena Marie Plantation
    The Athena Marie Plantation on Florida's North Hutchinson Island set the record for the largest green home built in the U.S., at 45,760 square feet. It was also the first in the U.S. to use wind-powered electric turbines on its roof, and the first Florida home to use 100% renewable energy. It may be an over-the-top extravagance, but it makes a statement.
    Source: Green Cities Media Portal
  • The Bellwether of Belvedere 6 of 25
    The Bellwether of Belvedere
    This green home in Belvedere, a suburb of San Francisco, puts hundreds of kilowatts of power back into the grid with energy-efficient features like solar cells, a high-efficiency boiler, a super-insulated roof, radiant floor heating, and the list goes on. The house is also largely constructed with recycled, repurposed, and/or sustainable materials — all in a way that screams "chic," not "green."
    See more photos at Dwell
  • Green Is in the Details 7 of 25
    Green Is in the Details
    This coastal California home's eco-renovation earned a LEED Platinum certification — which seems only natural, considering the owner was a former energy- and climate-change policy advisor at the Environmental Protection Agency, and a founding partner of Clean Fund (which finances renewable-energy projects). The family that owns this home also teamed up with Carver + Schicketanz, a local firm specializing in modern green homes. Some of the home's many eco-features include: retractable skylights, double-pane windows, radiant heating and fan coils, and sustainable landscaping.
    See more at Dwell
  • Aqua Liana (aka Green Giant) 8 of 25
    Aqua Liana (aka Green Giant)
    Back in 2009, property tycoon Frank McKinney made history (and headlines) by building America's first "green mansion" — a 15,000-square-foot mansion in Palm Beach, complete with floating sun terraces, a waterfall spa, and an aquarium wet bar. Although a green mansion might seem like an oxymoron, The Green Building Council and the Florida Green Building Council did, in fact, deem the property as being energy self-sufficient.
    Learn more about the Green Giant on ABC's 20/20
  • Woodland Home 9 of 25
    Woodland Home
    The Woodland Home in Wales was built by the owner (with some help from family and friends) with natural materials like stone, mud, straw, and reclaimed wood. And similar to the prefab zeroHouse, these crafty builders included a wood burner for heat, a natural air cooling system, solar panels for energy, a water system that comes from a nearby spring (via gravity), and a compost toilet.
    See more photos and building info
  • Swiss Solar House 10 of 25
    Swiss Solar House
    Originally featured on World's Greenest Homes, this 3,000-square-foot house in the Swiss Alps has solar panels lining the roof, an exterior made entirely from heat-retaining translucent glass, a pool filled with filtered water collected from the roof, and temperature-controlling concrete walls inside. In fact, this house produces and retains so much energy that it puts electricity back into the grid without any energy bill.
    See the full video at World's Greenest Homes (PlanetGreen.com)
  • Living Roof + Waterfall A/C 11 of 25
    Living Roof + Waterfall A/C
    This extraordinary house in the Arizona desert uses solar collector panels as its porch awning and "micro-climate" greenery in the living space (and on the roof!) to filter the air. Having a "living roof" also cuts energy bills by keeping the house cool in the summer and insulated in the winter — a contributing factor in this house producing more energy than it uses. There's also an indoor waterfall that's used to cool the air like an air conditioner!
    See the full video at World's Greenest Homes (PlanetGreen.com)
  • The Rotating New Paltz Dome 12 of 25
    The Rotating New Paltz Dome
    This is one of the coolest houses I've ever seen — especially considering it's "environmentally clean." The shockingly spacious dome has an even more shockingly small footprint, only using a very small portion of land. But the coolest part of the house is that it actually rotates to take advantage of the sun's rays.
    See the full video at World's Greenest Homes (PlanetGreen.com)
  • Ruin Reborn 13 of 25
    Ruin Reborn
    This eco-friendly cabin was actually built from the ruins of a dilapidated mill, originally built in the 1800s. They upgraded the inhabitable building with solar panels for power, a wood-burning stove with a built-in water boiler for heat, and plenty of windows and skylights for natural light.
    See more photos and info at Dwell
  • The Friendly House 14 of 25
    The Friendly House
    This is actually a hotel in Ukraine, not a house, but it's too jaw-dropping to exclude. Ryntovt Design used ecologically harmless materials like clay, reed, and wood in the construction, and designed the eco-hotel to not only reflect nature, but communicate with its environment. It won the 2012 Hotel Of The Year award from World Architecture News.
    See more at World Architecture News
  • Officina Roma (aka The Villa of Trash) 15 of 25
    Officina Roma (aka The Villa of Trash)
    This eco-minded villa will only stand until April 29, but it's quite the accomplishment from 24 Italian high-school kids who built this house entirely from scraps and trash in a one-week workshop. They used materials like old bottles for the kitchen, car doors as walls, and oil barrels as part of the roof.
    See more at TreeHugger
  • Backyard House 16 of 25
    Backyard House
    This quaint little house was named one of the winners of the 2012 Best Of Green Design award from TreeHugger.com. Built from recycled barn board with copper roofing, the designers didn't compromise the environment for comfort or function.
    See the full story at Rise Over Run
  • Recycled Cabin 17 of 25
    Recycled Cabin
    Another winner of the Best Of Green Design awards, this one was named the Best Single Family House of 2012 — yes, for its unique design, but mostly for its recycled and eco-responsible building materials.
    See more at TreeHugger.com
  • Vertical Forest by Stephano Boeri 18 of 25
    Vertical Forest by Stephano Boeri
    We'll feature one more winner from the TreeHugger.com Best of Green Design 2012 — this time the Best Multifamily Design. This vertical forest in Milan was constructed as a "metropolitan reforestation" project that "regenerates the environment and urban biodiversity." Not only does the tree-lined exterior look, quite literally, green, but it's designed with a specific purpose. According to the architect's website, each tower equals an area of 10.000 sqm of forest, while optimizing, recuperating, and producing energy. Acting as a microclimate, these trees filter the urban air, produce oxygen, and protect from pollution.
    See more at TreeHugger.com
  • Finca Bellavista Rainforest Village 19 of 25
    Finca Bellavista Rainforest Village
    Finca Bellavista — a brand new, headline-grabbing community at the base of a Costa Rican rainforest — is being called an eco-utopia for anyone determined to live a sustainable life.

    Originally created to preserve the 300 acres of rainforest, this community of tree houses uses sustainable energy while offering a community garden, recycling center, and a hydroelectric turbine system that powers the entire community. And yes, there's even "Sky Trail" networks of zip lines — because what other public transportation would there be? Yet even amidst the Swiss Family Robinson-like living, there's a parking lot at the base of the community with high-speed Internet and WIFI. They might be eco-conscious, but they're not primitive. They need their Facebook just as much as anyone else.
    See more at Inhabitat
  • Spains First Certified Passive House 20 of 25
    Josep-Bunyesc-Spain-First-Passive-House-1
    Architect Josep Bunyesc broke green records when he built the first certified Passive House (a standard in energy efficiency) in Spain — reducing energy usage by a whopping 90%.
    See more at Inhabitat
  • The Houl Residence 21 of 25
    The Houl Residence
    This gorgeous house in Scotland has a "sustainable [...] construction, very low energy consumption, and [is] aiming for zero net emissions of carbon dioxide for all energy use in the house." (It accomplishes this with extremely high levels of insulation, an air-source heat pump, and energy-generating wind turbine.) The house was designed to eventually export more zero carbon energy back into the national grid than was used to build it.
    See more photos at at HomeDSGN
  • Revived Pump House 22 of 25
    Revived Pump House
    This house's 100-year-old pump originally fed water to the fire department, and now it's used to heat and cool this entire house using water from the nearby lake. At the time this video was shot for World's Greenest Homes, the owners were planning on adding solar and wind energy as well.
    See the full video at World's Greenest Homes (PlanetGreen.com)
  • Organic and Bioclimatic House 23 of 25
    Organic and Bioclimatic House
    The French architect Patrice Bideau designed this beautiful home to be both organic and bioclimatic, and it meets the French THPE (very high energy performance) label.
    See more at HomeDSGN
  • Futuristic Seattle Retreat (aka PC-1) 24 of 25
    Futuristic Seattle Retreat (aka PC-1)
    The owners dubbed their modern sustainable house the PC-1 for its political correctness. They used green architect Mark Haizlip to design this house that's made with local reclaimed materials, recyclable polycarbonate windows, and heat-retaining concrete floors — leading to an overall energy-saving design.
    See the full video at World's Greenest Homes (PlanetGreen.com)
  • 995 Longbow Place 25 of 25
    995 Longbow Place
    This $4 million Colorado-based mansion — built with recycled and organic materials — costs less than $350 a month to cool and heat. (A 9,500-square-foot mansion typically costs closer to $2,000 per month.) Wrap-around wall insulation and solar panels (both thermal and electric) help keep utility costs low.
    Source: Construction Management

***

 

How do you make your home more eco-friendly?

Read more of Michelle’s writing at Early Mama.

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