Five Visions of Sustainable Low-Impact Homes

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Eco-homes literally come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. Some are fantastically conceived and high-concept. Others are modest, and  certainly could be considered practical during our current era of shifting values when it comes to consumption.

In this special guest post, writer Alex Levin expands upon five home designs that have sought to minimize the impact of a carbon footprint. Some of them are kind of wacky.  With every “wacky” idea, comes the potential for the future. Do you see it in any of these?

Well, take a look.

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How big is your carbon footprint? When you contemplate your effect on the environment, do you factor in your home? Homes have a carbon footprint as well. Recent ingenious inventions and designs have proven that homes don’t have to be hard on their environment.

Ecofriendly homes come in many shapes and sizes. Natural lighting, solar heating, recycled water and wind-generated power are being put to effective use in buildings that were designed to reduce the dwelling’s impact as much as possible. Here’s a list of five of the “greenest” homes in the world.

1. Tree House For Ewoks?

Canadian carpenter Tom Chudleigh designed a tree house fit for Ewoks. The sphere-shaped pod has a waterproof fiberglass and wood exoskeleton that protects against the weather.

photo: Redesign Day (http://www.redesign-day.com)

The interior can hardly be called spacious, but a kitchenette with sink, fridge and microwave oven is included. The beds are built into the wall to save space. Unfortunately the Ewok Tree House isn’t equipped with an inside bathroom. A family of four can sleep comfortably in the 11-foot wide house that hangs from a tree.

2. The zeroHouse

This home uses just about every trick in the ecofriendly handbook. The functionality fits its design perfectly, and the home looks great.

photo: zerohouse.net/wordpress

Rainwater is collected in a large, elevated reservoir and is propelled by gravity. The solar panels store enough energy to last an entire week. Natural lighting and insulation helps regulate the interior temperature. The entire home is automatically controlled with one computer. The Zerohouse is nice and roomy with two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, bathroom and covered deck.

3. The Martin House-To-Go

The Martin House-to-Go is cheap, ecofriendly and mobile. This home takes green to its brightest shade. You can follow the sun or the wind or take your home anywhere you like.

Photo: ecojoes.com

The kitchen has a stove, sink and refrigerator. The bathroom boasts a shower, toilet and sink. The roomy loft bedroom will not leave you feeling cramped for space. The big, sunny windows, cathedral ceilings and bamboo floors give the House-to-Go a bigger feel. The homes are built to the toughest building specs and use NASA approved insulation that can brush off the meanest climate. This non-traditional home also has a non-traditional price. It costs a mere $33,900 to roll around with your home on the back of your truck.

4. Athena Marie Plantation

Vero Beach, FL, has North Hutchinson Island’s Athena Marie Plantation, the biggest U.S. ecofriendly house. The plantation was the first in Florida to use 100 percent renewable energy.

Athena Marie Plantation

Photo: blog.coldcast.tv

Its Insulated Concrete Form wall system will save energy, reduce the carbon footprint and resist the brute force of a hurricane. Wind-powered turbines on the roof provide the electricity for the home’s three guest suites, 400 square-foot exercise room and master suite. The master suite features a ten-mile panoramic view of Florida’s fabulous Treasure Coast beaches.

5. Longbow Place

Larkspur, CO, has a 9,800 square-foot home known simply as 995 Longbow Place. It is among the greenest luxury homes ever built.

Longbow Place

Photo: sothebysrealty.com

The $4.5 million green home is packing a wealth of ecofriendly devices such as solar electric panels, wrap-around wall insulation, a 90 percent efficient water heating system and solar thermal panels. These green upgrades drop the monthly power bill to a miserly $350. Both organic and recycled materials were used in the home’s construction. Ecofriendly paints, stains and composite logs encase the home in beauty and defend it against severe weather events.

While we can’t all live in a tree house, you can find plenty of upgrades for your home that will lower your carbon footprint as well as your power bill. Start with some solar panels and build from there. Green homes aren’t just ecofriendly; they’re also easy on the wallet.

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Alex Levin is a marketing specialist for a variety of clients including Lance Surety Bonds – a nationwide surety company that provides contractor bonds required on almost all construction projects, including green buildings.

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.