Home Green HomeIn honor of Earth Day, we're rounding up some of the most innovative, eco-inspired homes in the world - homes that are sustainable, smart, and environmentally conscious. Homes that make energy, instead of using it. (We'd like that gas bill, please!) Homes that will blow your mind. Although this list certainly includes some futuristic designs (like rotating houses) and multi-million-dollar price tags, most use materials and ideas that you could easily implement in your own "green home" upgrade.
zeroHouse 1. zeroHouse
zeroHouse is a pre-fab home (which can be yours for $350,000) that's designed to be completely self-sufficient, meaning there are no outside utilities needed. zeroHouse produces power through solar panels and stores it in batteries, collects its own water, and even turns waste into compost. All of these functions work with automatic sensors that can be controlled through a laptop.
The Dome House 2. The Dome House
The International Dome House Co. builds these eco-minded prefab buildings that can be used as homes, offices, or anything, really. The shape alone saves energy through better circulation, is structurally stable, and helps dissipate wind energy. Plus, they're built from expanded polystyrene, which is an extremely clean material that requires no deforestation or waste.
The Orchid House 3. The Orchid House
Located on a nature reserve in England, this 2,400 square foot house is part of a green home building project called Lower Mill Estate that specializes in building "sustainable vacation homes," and it caught some buzz as being the most expensive "green home" ever, sold at $14.2 million. Its eco-features include a geothermal heating underground pump that promises to generate more energy than it consumes.
Related: 10 simple changes you can make to go green this year
Aqua Liana (aka Green Giant) 4. Aqua Liana (aka Green Giant)
Back in 2009, property tycoon Frank McKinney made history (and headlines) by building America's first "green mansion" - a 15,000-square-foot mansion in Palm Beach, complete with floating sun terraces, a waterfall spa, and an aquarium wet bar. Although a green mansion might seem like an oxymoron, The Green Building Council and the Florida Green Building Council did, in fact, deem the property energy self-sufficient.
Vertical Forest5. Vertical Forest
This vertical forest in Milan was constructed as a "metropolitan reforestation" project that regenerates the environment and urban biodiversity. Not only does the tree-lined exterior look, quite literally, green, but it's designed with a specific purpose. According to the architect's website, each tower equals an area of 10,000 square miles of forest, while optimizing, recuperating, and producing energy. Acting as a microclimate, these trees filter air, produce oxygen, and protect from pollution.
Officina Roma (aka The Villa of Trash)6. Officina Roma (aka The Villa of Trash) This eco-minded villa will only stand until April 29, but it's quite the accomplishment from 24 Italian high-school kids who built this house entirely from scraps and trash in a one-week workshop. They used materials like old bottles for the kitchen, car doors as walls, and oil barrels as part of the roof.
Related: The 20 most amazing tree houses from around the world
Woodland Home 7. Woodland Home The Woodland Home in Wales was built by the owner (with some help from family and friends) with natural materials like stone, mud, straw, and reclaimed wood. And similar to the prefab zeroHouse, these crafty builders included a wood burner for heat, a natural air cooling system, solar panels for energy, a water system that comes from a nearby spring via gravity, and a compost toilet.
- By Michelle Horton
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