5 Eco-Friendly Homes You Have to See to Believe
If you could live in a home that goes all-out to conserve energy, save you money, and be both beautiful and comfortable, would you make the investment? Are you looking to buy a home you can convert into a green home? Green homes save both energy and money. To be considered green, a home should use at least 24% less energy than a conventional home. If well designed, a green home can also be stylish, architecturally beautiful, and they generally cost less to build while saving long-term on utility costs.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some proven buildings that top the green list:
The high-end shipping container home
Image: Container Home Plans
How do you cut 28% off the price of building a home while saving 70 trees and five years of electricity? You build a home with shipping containers.
A container home built in Victoria, B.C., was designed by Keith Dewey’s Zigloo company, with the goal of making a high-end home at a low-end price.
The result is a 1,920-square foot home made with inexpensive containers and insulated with spray foam for an R-28 result well above the minimum requirement. A poured concrete floor has radiant heat, and the home’s hot water is from a tankless, on-demand water heater. The radiant heat rises and also heats the upper level, while windows capture summer breezes for cooling. The final home costs $180 per square foot, about the same as spec homes, but significantly less than high-end homes of the same quality which would run about $250 per square foot; impressive savings up-front and long-term.
The award-winning capsule home
Have you found the perfect property that you’d love to build on but it has no access to utilities? Does the location make transporting building materials cost-prohibitive? The remarkable Ecocapsule has just entered production and gives eco-conscious owners a sleek, egg-shaped dwelling that is extremely efficient and comfortable for two adults. This Slovakian design was short-listed for the 2015 Lexus Design Award and will cost less than $120,000 Canadian plus shipping. They have a built-in turbine and impressive, solar-electric energy systems. The curved silhouette allows for the collection of rainwater and dew, and filters to make sure your captured water is safe to drink. The home can be transported in a shipping container, airlifted, towed, or even drawn into place by a pack animal for those hard-to-access islands, mountaintops, or nooks in the lake country! Simcoe County is home to some of the most breathtaking views Canada – this may be the perfect answer to finding your home away from home in the 705 area.
Green renovated home
While lauded as the pinnacle of home renovation, the beautiful design of the Skygarden house in Toronto also lends itself to green design. Proving you can have a designer house without being in the mansion district, this breath-taking home is 2,400 square feet of scenic light. The original brick home was renovated with full-wall windows that overlook the yard and into the trees, a view that makes you feel you are in the countryside. Passive solar heat gained from the windows could be captured by concrete floors, but the actual design includes efficient radiant floor heat on each level. Super-insulated walls continue the green theme to minimize energy bills. This stunning home design be replicated here in Simcoe County.
The Net-Zero Home
East of Victoria, B.C. is Lopez Island, a part of Washington State. Here, 11 “net-zero” homes were built for a mere $236,000 each, far more affordable than others in the surrounding area. As a net-zero home, each makes as much energy as it uses. On only seven-tenths of an acre, these homes use solar gain to heat water, solar panels for power, prevailing winds for ventilation, rain to supplement potable water, and the use of gardening. Passive design minimizes heating and cooling demands. The resulting homes use 60% less energy and 30% less water than similarly-sized and -built homes. High-performance insulation, windows and doors ensure snugness and efficiency.
The “Passive Design” Home
The most energy efficient home in the world was built in 1977 in Regina, Saskatchewan, and then forgotten. Finally rediscovered by a German physicist, the building style has caught on in Europe with more than 25,000 homes built and growing. This home is so super-insulated that it could actually be heated by a simple hair-dryer!
Using a basic, square layout to minimize exposure to the elements, it creates as close to an airtight surrounding as possible, with R-40 wall insulation and R-60 ceilings. Dark brown cedar siding allows the house to absorb heat from the sun, and strategically planted trees provide shade in the summer and sun exposure in the winter. Today the boxy original has been improved upon with elegant styles while meeting the high standards set to be an energy-efficient certified home. The criteria for this certification includes a blower-door test to demonstrate the home is air-tight and the requirement that the home can consume no more than 15 kilowatt-hours of energy per square meter of floor space. In Europe, a Passivhaus costs only ten-percent more to build than a standard home, but the lax window standards in North America make it more difficult to reach this high level of efficiency with standard window options.