What's Your Fantasy Green Home?

| 4/29/2009 11:33:08 AM

Tags: energy, efficiency, home heating, green building, solar, wind,

Having a “green home” can mean all sorts of things. To some people, it means living in a home that’s free of chemicals or materials that produce any sort of toxic fumes (formaldehyde from furniture or volatile organic compounds from paint, for example).

To others, a green home must be extremely energy-efficient: superinsulated, energy-efficient appliances, and with minimal space. It may even include living off the electrical grid.

If a home isn’t built of natural, local materials (such as stone, logs, cordwood or adobe), some people will say it’s not green.

So, with all these variables in mind, what would be your fantasy green home? Tell us what it would be made of, what types of energy-conserving features it would have or about the design. You can write all about it in the comments section below.

5/8/2009 2:03:27 PM

My dream home is a home made with SIPS for both walls and roof. It would have a root cellar, solar and wind generated electricity, a greenhouse and enough land for a few chickens, and a goat or two. I already garden organically here in Florida. But since land is so expensive here, I plan to move to southern Ohio in the next few months. My daughter and her husband have 25 acres up there and are willing to let me have a piece of their land. They are also interested in self sustainable living.

5/6/2009 3:10:47 AM

I have dreamed of my "Green Dream Home" for over 3 years. I think I have it narrowed down but the thing about green is that it is constantlt coming up with new ideas and because of that I am constantly changing what I want. I am dreaming of a Farmstead, about 4-6 acres, with an underground home. My home would only have one exposed wall. The company I like builds maintenence free homes that last a very long time. A home that can be generational and passed down to my kids. I will incorporate passive solar, sky lights, thermal mass, an incorporated greenhouse with built in "pots" through out the home for trees and plants for air filtration and indoor water feature, solar hot water, turbines, solar panels and other renewable resorces. As off grid as possible. Hopefully I can find a plot of land with a natural spring on the mountain to use for energy. I am also looking at rain water retention systems for water use in the home, greenhouses and barn. I am researching "grey" water systems for use of out going water. The home would be as energy efficient as possible and self reliant as possible. I want exsposed timbers in the home of course they would come from the land the home is built on. The land I have been looking at has alot of shale in the soil as much of this area does and I hope to use this as decorative stone for the home. Maximize every inch of my home! A non-toxic indoor enviroment is a must. Reclaimed floors or sustainable Bamboo, pigment and/or ocher paints used on all walls. A warm earthen home that is as inviting as it is eco-friendly. Of course no Farmstead would be complete without a barn and I am looking at my options. I would not build a reguar above ground leaking box to house my animals when I don't consider them good enough for my family or my planet. I would really like to have a small addition on the home containing a working greenhouse. I like to produce as much of what my family eats as p

winter star
5/4/2009 1:51:25 PM

"Green" building by its very intention, must also be non-toxic, sustainable, long-lived, and resource slim, imho. A building can start small, and grow with additions. A house can be made in just about any exterior shape, using various materials, and still be "green". The interior layout can contribute hugely to how efficient a house is, to optimize usage and resources-- ---ie., G'pa and G'ma placed 2 of 5 bedrooms downstairs; a bathroom each upstairs and down; door to close off upstairs: these all accommodated mobility issues and seasonal heating/cooling. Kitchen at back of house [north side, in their hot climate]; basement "office" with separate entrance and bed space. It looked like many other old houses from outside, but few old houses were built or laid out as sensibly. It was framed with very large reused redwood beams, as well as window placement and house orientation that took advantage of daylight--all built back in about the 1930's. The John Muir house in Martinez, CA, had running water from gravity fed cisterns in the attic and basement-all built in the 1800's. We have much to re-learn from history!

winter star
5/4/2009 1:31:58 PM

The ambiance of earthen walls is nicer than cement, but, cement can be made to resemble earthen, for greater strength and longevity of the house. I keep coming back to to massive, thick earthen types of walls, Hobbity-kinds with naturally shaped tree parts forming unique windows and doors, and non-square spaces. Resources: ---"The $50 Underground House Book" by Ohler [achieved the sustainability of underground using the old 4-square mining support designs, making it very cheap to accomplish.] ---Earthship trilogy of books [earth-filled tires, both underground and semi-underground and bermed] ---CalEarth.org [earthbag buildings have been permitted by the San Bernardino County, one of the highest seismic areas in the USA]. ---Solviva [systems for homes and farms include water handling, greenhouse heating, septage handling made very easy, etc.] ---http://www.giantearthship.com/ Vic Cook's "The Giant Home" made his own rendition of a semi-underground earthen house, Indiana, with some very unique ways to make power and refrigeration. ANY time the sun and earth can be used passively, basically for free, the more, the better! Live as full-circle as possible, wherever you are!

winter star
5/4/2009 1:28:55 PM

I have been designing self-sufficient underground/semi-underground homes since the 1960's, when everyone thought I was nutcase, long before anyone called it "green building" or spoke of living sustainably or using renewable energy! I absolutely NEVER considered "resale"; the whole idea was to have a home that could healthily care for its owners from cradle to grave, with the least amount of operating and maintenance costs or efforts, as owners cared for the home and property. Carmel, CA and other art-based communities have numerous unique, small, artsy homes, each a "one-of" art-piece. That raises resale value - IF anyone would move out and sell them! "Resale" as commerce has come to view it, is very limited variety-"little boxes on the hillside and they all look just the same". However, a motivated seller, that "target markets" property to attract those interested in a unique item or property, WILL sell, and pretty fast. The trick is for seller to find a real estate person to do that for them--FEW real estate people are actually capable of marketing truly unique properties. I dream of and tinker with making all systems as low-tech / natural as possible. Buildings need to be integral to functionality of the property as a whole, which is integral to the community it's in; always thinking in terms of how smaller things fit sustainably into larger wholes. I prefer buildings that "sing" their own existence in their unique features, curved shapes and natural and unusual materials; places that include all users in multiuse great-rooms, with smaller niches for specific tasks, activities or privacy. Buildings that "sing" their ambiance lift the spirits of those who use them, helping them feel and function closer to their best selves. The ambiance of earthen walls is nicer than cement, but, cement can be made to resemble earthen, for greater strength and longevit

5/4/2009 7:23:50 AM

I dream of whole neighborhoods or housing areas that are about 1-2 acres and no buildings over 900 sq.ft. and be energy efficient. Must have solar hot water system.

jane ousley
5/2/2009 6:09:37 PM

I would love a "hobbit" house build in a hill facing south. With wind power and well. on 40 acres, to have chickens, cows, barn in side of hill also. It would keep temp around 55 degrees all the time, and have a small wood stove for heat, wouldn't need to cool, the ground would keep it cool. An acre garden with fresh veggies!! Some fruit trees!! Would love it!!

5/2/2009 12:02:04 PM

I respond to Dave Bolton's comments on Green Development: consider cluster housing, leaving more of the undeveloped land contiguous, which is better for wildlife, better for community connectivity (neighbor interaction) and better facilitates sharing things like public transportation, tools, and other resources. Consider the Co-Housing movement, or something similar. Chopping land into 10 acre parcels is far from the greenest option. It enslaves people to the automobile, isolates them from community, and disrupts natural wildlife patterns. to Criss Kraus: Can't you build the home you want and forget about "resale"? As an architect, I have lost track of how many people have told me they really don't want a big house with lots of bedrooms, but feel they have to for resale. Surely there are others who would love to buy your Just-Right house with not so many extra, unused spaces. Bowing to market pressures for building too big is not green. Maybe instead you can create a design that allows the next owner to add on easily? My dream green home affords me privacy, health and comfort in minimum of space, with solar heating and daylighting, using the minimum or zero utility energy. It is low maintenance, and of a design form that honestly reflects the natural or green materials chosen. This home supports a lifestyle that is community and family-centered, allows for sustainable home practices such as growing my own food, non-motorized transportation, television-free pastimes and working from home. This home is not necessarily a secluded get-away on my own 10 acres (been there, done that). It might just as well be an urban home, with a small, but well-utilized yard, or a yard shared with my neighbors.

dave bolton
5/2/2009 9:51:18 AM

After watching a program on green home competition, I am inspired to start planning a all green homestead development area. I moved mid Tn. 4 years ago, I believe is as close to having everything one would here. Excellent growing seasons, low taxes, very good soil, etc., etc. I am considering 10 acre parcels, of nice farm land, that should be enough people. They would have ,so their design would not infringe other members , but not too expensive . Is a green subdivision realistic ?

renee l
5/1/2009 7:28:40 PM

I dream of a "Not So Big House (Sarah Susanka)" on approximately one acre in central Wisconsin, where my Dad's family settled generations ago (and some still remain there). I would design the house for passive solar with at least solar hot water and just the right amount of glazing so that heat could be controlled in the summer months. The house would be built of ICF (Insulated Concrete Form)construction. It would have a well, and if the county would let me, graywater filtering into the earth (Solvia-style). I would plant deer and rodent proof late season daffodils and English bluebells. A sunspace would provide fresh, organic veggies for three seasons, and a garden would grow the rest. Ahhh! Sounds like wonderful therapy.

criss kraus
5/1/2009 5:29:35 PM

I dream of a strawbale & frammed rammed earth (for thermal mass) hybrid, passive/active heating & cooling home. With at least wind and solar power and if the land permits water and geothermal power/heating. A well for drinking water and then run-off and gray water recycling. A small green house for fruits and vegetables. The home would consist of 1 great room that houses space for the kitchen (with island), table/seating for 12 and two casual living areas defined by rugs not walls. Don't need to many bedrooms but to make the home more appealing for resale it would have at least 3. Not to large and not to small. No walk in closets but good sized closets. Plenty of built-ins. Furniture would be multi-functional as well. Sofa beds, under bed dressers, bookcases. Would love to have a green business on the property like a laundry mat or hunters cabins. Basically I would like a self-sustaining home. No grid hook ups. Natural local products/materials and the most energy efficient appliances and lighting (LED). I want to be a part of a small town/community and about 2-4 from any major city. Rural enough that if I get brave I can raise a milk cow and some chickens and own a horse again. I am planning my retirement and actually have preliminary builders plans for such a home. Just need the location and the rest of the money and then I build and retire. Ok economy help me out here ;-}

5/1/2009 4:13:10 PM

I dream of about 5 or 10 acres out from town a ways, about 3/4 wooded, a home that's on a hill and fully or partially into the hill, very energy efficient, only composting toilets, nice big EPA certified woodstove. 20k gallons of rain storage, a wind mill, solar array, off the grid, big garden, chickens, pigs, goats, cows, turkeys, root cellar, and a big garden. My wife dreams that I'll stop having these dreams...

brian alexander
5/1/2009 3:49:03 PM

My dream has always been a cabin deep in the woods, made of logs, well insulated, maybe superinsulated, off grid, with a spring and/or a stream with fish,nearby, and a composting toilet in the outhouse. Somewhere in the Northland. In good hunting territory,and with space for a good garden and a root cellar. A place where I can write in peace if not quiet.

5/1/2009 3:47:16 PM

My dream "green" home would be one that is safe for family and pets, free from allergens and chemicals; it would be totally self-sufficient for all its energy needs; it would be located in a place that would be as free from city fumes and chemicals, yet close enough to visit family; capable of feeding the family with both crops and animals (green home + green life = totally self-sustaining). I would be able to live without bills to the power companies, oil companies, gas companies, or water companies! My family would be healthy, happy, and totally organically green!

richard chiriboga
5/1/2009 11:58:49 AM

i dream of a monolithic dome. Cheap to heat and cool and tornado proof too!!!

4/29/2009 9:13:08 PM

Location is key for my dream green home. Perhaps a major exodus from the areas surrounding petrochemical industries would send a nice message (if I could just get my whole community on board!). We would have to put it somewhere with a non-lethal industry. I would like to reuse an old Acadian style farm house. We could seal it up and insulate it well, replace all of the old paint with new non-toxic paint, install a greywater system, harvest rain water, and power the home with the elements. Nothing in the home would be synthetic or treated with toxic chemicals, and as many of our supplies as possible would be second hand. I haven't yet decided what we would do about sewage, but I'm educating myself. Thank you for prompting me to take a moment to dream freely in the midst of all this time I'm spending trying to figure out what I actually CAN do.

michael hilliker
4/29/2009 8:03:59 PM

I would love to have a sub-terrain home with a roof I can mow. The house would be built in a south facing slope of a hill and have slate floor for solar mass heat storage. In the center of the house would be a small court yard covered with a green house type structure for light to enter the inner rooms (bedrooms) and also be used for emergency exits.

linda houle_2
4/29/2009 1:42:57 PM

I've always wanted to build a Dome Home - and use eco friendly materials to finish the inside. Then I'd use both passive and active solar, and wind power, for energy. I love LED lighting, and hope more variety for indoor use will be available soon!

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