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5 Most Environmentally Friendly Homes in America

Posted Jan. 03, 2014, at 12:27 p.m.

As we learn more about our impact on the environment through our daily living activities, many of us are trying to lessen our impact by choosing eco-friendly products and reducing our emissions as much as possible. In some parts of the world, individuals are building homes that use new technology to create renewable energy that can power the home, instead of relying on fossil fuels that produce more emissions.

Athena Marie Plantation

The largest green home to date is the Athena Marie Plantation in Vero Beach, Fla. It measures an astounding 45,760 square feet, and it’s the first home in the United States to have wind-powered turbines on the roof. It uses completely renewable energy to provide power, and it houses three guest suites that visitors can stay in with their families.

The Insulated Concrete Form system that’s in the walls of this plantation provides multiple benefits, including keeping the warm and cool air inside, as well as being able to withstand winds and rain that come with hurricanes. This plantation has breathtaking views of the beach for miles from its open balconies located on each of its levels.

Ridgewood Homes

In Southern Maine, builders created a unique eco-friendly community of homes. The goal of Ridgewood was to minimize both long and short-term impact on the environment, and they have had great success from the start of the building process to the finished product.

The builders use recycled materials onsite, using less gasoline to transport between sites during the process. The green features include Energy Star appliances, insulated windows, local lumber, and natural materials.

Additional technologies available to buyers include LED lighting, solar-thermal hot water heaters, tighter building envelope option with air exchange, cabinets with non-toxic adhesives, and countertops made of recycled materials. Homeowners can also save money on energy by using the resources on energysavings.com.

The Greenest Home in America

Bill Gottfried, mastermind behind the LEED energy-efficient homes rating system and founder of the United States Green Building Council, renovated a home in Oakland that ranked the highest on the LEED ratings scale. This 1,440-square-foot home has low-flow toilets that use collected rainwater to flush, a solar-powered hot water tank, cellulose wall insulation, and cabinets built by local companies.

The home also has a water collection unit that Mr. Gottfried uses in the garden and landscape. The LEED ratings give a Platinum status for a score of 80 and above, and this home scored 106.5 points.

The Orchid House

Sold for a record-breaking $14.2 million, the Orchid House is actually the most expensive eco-friendly home that has ever sold. It’s 2,400 square feet, so that price calculates to about $6,000 per square foot. Located on the Lower Mill Estate, this project is part of a group of multiple green homes in Cotswold, England, built on a nature reserve.

The designers and builder implemented the latest energy technologies, and it’ll actually produce more energy than it uses. This particular home has an underground geothermal heating pump and the frame of the house has laminated veneer lumber with shingles on the outside. The design on the shingles draws inspiration from the bee orchid, a flower that is native to this reserve.

The Zerohouse

When we think about eco-friendly, modern is often a common theme. The Zerohouse has a unique design that makes occupants feel like they’re part of the future with its sharp lines and open feel. The builders also used visually appealing materials and colors that meet specific environmentally friendly requirements. The large solar panel on top of the home can collect enough energy to last for one week of regular usage, and a rainwater collection tank relies on gravity instead of using more power.

Another system beneath the house processes waste into compost, and the builders wired controls to a central laptop that keeps the systems running automatically.

There are always small things each of us can do to reduce our impact on the environment. By cutting back on our energy usage and limiting our waste, we can all take part in leaving behind a better world.

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