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Want to go eco-friendly and green? These examples of green homes can help you decide what to do with your own property in order to lessen the carbon footprint.

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You know you want to go greener and help the environment. But how? In addition to all the little things that include low flow showerheads, sustainable materials, energy-saving devices and more, you can make a big statement with your home itself. Lowering your carbon footprint might not be easy, but it’s definitely worth it. Here are a few houses full of inspiration that can help get you started on your own eco-friendly journey.

1. The mansion on Longbow Place in Larkspur, Colorado

Imagine a home of over 9,800 feet. How much does it does to heat and cool that behemoth? Would you believe only $350 per month? That’s the reality of the family who lives in this whopper of a mansion. The luxury home cost $4.5 million to build, and much of that expense went to state-of-the-art earth-friendly materials and plans, including a vast array of solar panels, heavy-duty wall insulation, a water heater system that is 90 percent efficient, recycled materials galore and even logs made of composite materials.

2. The portable Martin House-to-go

If the Longbow Place mansion is too expensive for your tastes, how does $33,900 sound? That’s what you will pay for a portable house that takes eco-friendly to an extreme. The floor plan is carefully designed to allow for the maximum living space within a home that can be towed behind the average truck or SUV.

Besides having a tiny footprint — literally — it makes good use of reclaimed materials, bamboo floors, huge windows for better lighting, and NASA-accredited insulation. Just be careful about how often you move it, as running that big engine to haul the house might negate the environmental savings.

3. The Zerohouse

This pre-fab house looks like something out of a futuristic movie, but it has eco-friendly amenities that are definitely in the here-and-now. This completely self-sufficient house is big enough to house four adults in comfort, and doesn’t need any external connections — no waste-disposal companies, no water utilities, nothing! How does it work?

The house collects enough solar energy to power the home for at least a week, and a 2700 elevated reservoir means excellent use of rainwater. All waste from the house is turned into dry compost below. It can be a nice getaway or a long-term living arrangement. Surprisingly, this fantastic house costs only $350,000.

4. Acqua Liana in Palm Beach County, Florida

Now let’s talk about something that is not so affordable: The $29 million that is being poured into this eco-friendly house, one that has been featured in the documentary The Green Giant. This massive home features enough solar panels to cover an NBA-sized basketball court, waterfalls and pools to keep the temperature steady, a system to collect and recycle rainwater, and even an air-purifying system that pumps out air cleaner than what you could find in an operating room. And it gives back — on the best days, the home generates enough energy to power two average-sized homes.

5. The Dome House

Not only does this house offer a tiny carbon footprint, it can be assembled by three or four people in a matter of weeks. Created in Japan, the house is made of polystyrene, which means no worries with rot, termites or water issues.

The nature of using foam for the building means that insulation is exceptional and the house is very durable. Besides that, it has been rated to withstand some of the worst things Mother Nature can throw at it, including typhoons and earthquakes. The smallest starts at about 500 square feet, but larger models can be had, and smaller ones can also be connected. Costs start at about $40,000.

Eco-friendly home

Inspiration from these amazing eco-friendly homes

How can you take the lessons from these low-impact houses and apply them to your own place? Since most of us don’t have millions to toss around, scaling down the most luxurious amenities might be a good place to start.

Collecting rainwater from the roof in large water barrels, and then using that water for an irrigation system in the yard during the worst of the dry months can mean major water savings. Want to go further? Work with a contractor to create a water-usage system that allows that rainwater to actually be used in the house.

Sustainable and responsibly harvested materials

When it’s time to replace flooring in your home, go with something entirely sustainable, such as bamboo. At very least, FSC wood floors and vendors who understand CARB regulations and the Lacey Act are an absolute must.  Going with reclaimed wood is a means to save even more work for the environment. When it comes to insulation, look for something without added chemicals if possible, and look to recycled products to lessen your footprint even more.

Solar and wind power

Willing to spend a bit? Solar panels can be a great way to lessen your reliance on the power grid. Wind turbines can help power small appliances and motors on your property. Gray-water systems and other ways to route water through your home can lead to substantial savings in water utility costs. Look to natural ways to keep your home cooler during the summer months, such as carefully-placed trees, insulated windows and making use of the chimney effect.

Doesn’t have to be difficult

Being eco-friendly doesn’t have to be difficult, or even expensive. Take your time to figure out what works best for you and your family. Remember, shaving just a little energy here and there can make a big difference over time.

 

 

 

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.