12 of the Coolest Energy Efficient Homes in the World

By Michael Lentin

Solar panels on the roof, geothermal heating Systems in the basement; green technology can seem so obtrusive. Here are twelve homes that prove you don’t have to sacrifice a sleek style for energy efficiency.

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The canvas material that encompasses the structures is a sustainably sourced silicone glass fabric designed to move with the breeze like the limbs of the surrounding trees. The homes are the outcome of an urban renewal competition in Malaysia, launched in an effort to create an entire community of homes that produce all of the energy necessary to function renewably.
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It’s been said that six degrees separate every human on earth, through a friend of a friend and so on. That very notion was the inspiration behind this eco-friendly home in Australia, where each floor is tilted by six degrees to offer a unique perspective of the outside. The house incorporates sustainable technologies in an unobtrusive manner, making use of photovoltaic cells for solar energy and rainwater collection tanks.
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The Hover House 3 is, as one would imagine, the third installment of an architectural undertaking by Glen Irani Architects. The project is focused on ‘hovering’ homes on small properties to maximize the outdoor space available. Wall-length Windows weave the indoor and outdoors seamlessly together to further the designer’s goals of optimizing the feeling of exterior space.
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The Zero Home, located in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah, was the first home to be certified as net zero in Climate Zone 5. This is a quite technical way of saying that this home produces all of the energy it needs on site by renewable means, and is located in a climate area characterized by cold winters and hot summers. The owner of this home will be thrilled when the $300 in utility bills that their neighbors in the area incur on an average monthly basis are pleasantly absent from the mailbox.
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Created in the wake of the 2011 tsunami that wreaked havoc in northern Japan, the Mirai Nihon project aimed to provide shelters designed to work off the grid. A seawater purification System is just one of many sustainable assets that help this home to function near the shore.
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“The premise was to build a house that would last 400 years,” says John Damianos, owner of this Denver, Colorado home. A 1,000-gallon cistern beneath the structure stores solar-heated water, enough to provide a week worth of energy if the sun does not shine.
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With solar power hosting the bulk of conversation on sustainability, one Montecito couple decided to expand on their renewable sources and venture into the world of geothermal heating and cooling as well. The result was this highly efficient compound situated in Toro Canyon, just outside of Santa Barbara, California. The $1-per-day energy cost will help to offset the $4.5 million price tag of this property.
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The Schwimmhaus, a product of German architectural engineering, is a houseboat with a quite unconventional aesthetic. Designed to function either afloat or ashore, this home employs the use of a green rooftop and is constructed of wood salvaged from a decommissioned farm home. The Windows leading out to the ‘patio’ provide a waterfront view for every room in the house.
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Located in Franschhoek, South Africa, this green living quarters is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery. The interior in completely customizable, with the architects allowing the buyer to situate rooms into three incredibly simple categories: live, sleep, and play.
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This home, created by a Portland-based architect/realtor couple, is the manifestation of desiring to focus on the benefits of modern architectural trends just as much as elaborate sustainable energy Systems. The basis of the interior revolves around flexibility, with no closets or pre-assigned rooms, few doors, and a serious sense of minimalism. Not wanting to skimp on the pleasures of modern design implements, the numerous Windows situated across each story show that large, glass-sealed openings don’t have to be a source of energy loss. This home relies purely on its design elements, such as an energy-reducing joint wall attachment to a second structure, to achieve a level of sophistication while not compromising green efforts.
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This home in Washington State places solar panels at grade on the south slope to avoid interference with its remarkable East Asian architectural design.
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Looking for sustainable housing in a hurry? This pre-fabricated home can be constructed in just three days. The architects, known for a plethora of other unique structures, insist that it is capable of withstanding weather in nearly any climate. At just 150 sq. ft., this may be the future of both modular living and tiny housing.
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From Kuala Lumpur to California, the beaches of Japan to the shores of northern Germany, the pursuit of sustainable housing has become a universal human endeavor. More than just a test of human technological ingenuity, it has challenged architects across the globe to devise truly creative methods to incorporate these elements into a design that buyers will fall in love with. In several cases seen above, this challenge evolved into an inspiration by granting architects a perspective away from structure and outward into the natural world. Sustainable housing is proving to be far more than a passing fad — let’s look forward to even more amazing homes in the years to come.

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