Comfortable green homes defy architectural stereotypes for high-performance housing (photos)

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
Comfortable green homes defy architectural stereotypes for high-performance housing (photos)

A great green home doesn't have to look like a warehouse or a steel-and-glass showcase that could grace a magazine cover but not stand up to a toddler.

In reality, a green, energy-efficient home can blend into any neighborhood in any architectural style.

The Active House USA in a St. Louis, Mo., suburb, met stringent historic neighborhood guidelines. Architect Jeff Day had to convince his clients their home would fit into the historic suburb.

"Their first question was, 'Does it have to look like a space ship?'" Day sad. "But every home we design has a traditional style because that's what our conservative market wants."

In Florida, Marc Rutenberg built a home that met multiple green certifications. But it's indistinguishable from any other house in the neighborhood of million-dollar-plus residences.

"If you drove through the neighborhood and had to find the net-zero house, you couldn't find it, it looks like all the other houses," he said.

Here's a look at the interiors and exteriors of the some of the Proud Green Home we've profiled recently. If you're considering a green home, there's no limit to how you make your dream come true.

Castaway III living room

Marc Rutenberg Homes Castaway III: Living Room

The 4,500-sq. ft. Castaway III home by Marc Rutenberg features innovative building techniques and products to deliver high performance recognized by the top building certification organizations. In the living room, as in all the rooms, Lafarge synthetic gypsum drywall (recycled rather than mined) is covered by low-VOC paint from Sherwin-Williams.

ICF home kitchen

Lantern Hall ICF Home: Kitchen

The 10,300 sq. ft. Lantern Hall ICF home by ICF Homes of Virginia was designed to offer the highest energy efficiency within the owners' budget. The kitchen incorporates age-in-place design and appliances and prep space to support large family gatherings. 

Grayhawk homes exterior

GrayHawk Homes: Exterior

Since 2010 Grayhawk homes has exclusively built Energy Star rated homes in Georgia, Alabama and Iowa, in prices from the $110s to the $350s. The company is working to bring high-performance homes to the value-oriented home buyer.  Durable, colorful cement fiber siding has a 50-year guarantee, which means the home won't have to be repainted, reducing exposure to VOCs from paints or stains.

Brookfield Homes interior

Brookfield Homes: Windows

High windows let the sun in for natural lighting but keep out the heat in this Energy Star rated model from Brookfield Homes in the Midtown at Clear Creek Development in Denver.

Active House USA

Active House USA: Kitchen

In this net-zero home, the open kitchen plan uses LED lights, energy-efficient appliances, low-VOC cabinets and a butcher block countertop made from lumber recycled from the packing for the SIPs used in the walls and roof.

Read more about Great Green Homes.

Topics: GREAT GREEN HOMES, Home Design & Plans, Interior Design, Kitchen, Living Room

Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

wwwView Gary Wollenhaupt's profile on LinkedIn

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