From hip urban dwellings to traditional custom beauties, green homes come in all shapes and sizes to please a range of buyers. Here are five that run the gamut when it comes to design.

To help control daylighting and solar heat gain, roof overhangs respond to the home’s orientation, with 1- and 2-foot overhangs at north and east elevations, 2- and 4-foot at south elevations, and 4- and 6-foot for west elevations.

Akta Linjen, Siloam Springs, Ark.
Builder: Upriver Construction Co., Overland Park, Kan.
Architect: Matthias J. Pearson, Siloam Springs
Size: 2,580 square feet
Cost: $128 per square foot (plus sweat equity)
Certification: LEED-Silver

The natural warmth of wood, large and plentiful windows, and simple rectilinear design give Akta Linjen its modern, light-filled character. The home—named “authentic lines” in Swedish—consists of two transverse bars, with the lower bar containing live/work activities and the upper holding the sleeping areas.

The design team sought to achieve LEED-Silver using relatively standard building practices, materials, and systems with a high level of quality and workmanship, according to architect Matt Pearson. Product selection was guided by strict standards for sustainability and healthy living, including vertical-grain bamboo flooring, paperless gypsum board, low-VOC paint, and PaperStone recycled paper countertops.

A tightly sealed building envelope and Ag-Tite hybrid corn-based closed-cell spray foam insulation helps keep the home energy efficient even during winter, with average monthly utility bills of about $138.

A big part of the home’s appeal comes from the way it interacts with the natural beauty of its site. Its location on top of a 20-foot grade change allows views from the surrounding countryside, and four wood decks encourage outdoor living. Positioned beneath nine mature deciduous trees, the house benefits from shade in the summer and solar gain in the winter.

Other sustainable features include:
–Advanced 22-inch o.c. framing, including two-stud corners, header clips to eliminate jack studs, and engineered floor joists
–OSB sheathing with housewrap
–Energy Star-rated Pella Proline aluminum-clad wood windows and doors
–A 3-ton air-source heat pump with ERV
–Within a short walk or bike ride to many retail amenities


The three-story home is configured in a sawtooth plan to maximize views to the outdoors, daylighting, and natural ventilation. The stacking of floor levels preserved as much outdoor space as possible on the narrow 50-by-100-foot lot.

Hancock Residence, Neskowin, Ore.
Builder: Tom Spring Construction, Otter Rock, Ore.
Carpentry: Paul Jordan Custom Carpentry, Salem, Ore.
Architect: Nathan Good Architects, PC, Salem
Size: 2,185 square feet
Cost: Withheld
Certification: LEED-Gold

The Hancock home reflects the owners’ love of rustic buildings such as barns, mining structures, and historic lodges. Douglas fir reclaimed from a 1930s warehouse was used for columns and beams, flooring, cabinets, paneling, doors, and interior trim. For added nostalgia, metal bolts and split-ring connectors from the disassembled warehouse were re-purposed into towel bars, coat hooks, cabinet pulls, and guardrails.

In addition to the look of the home, the clients and the design team focused on energy-efficient strategies including a well-insulated building envelope, an ultra-efficient heating and hot water system, reduced lighting and electrical loads, extensive natural daylighting, and a Zehnder HRV system.

The residence was built for durability and comfort in its harsh coastal environment, where 80 inches of rainfall a year is not uncommon and high winds pound horizontal rain at the sides of the buildings. In response to the threat of rising sea levels, the floor of the home was elevated 2 feet above the natural grade of the site. As a precaution to protect the home in the event of a tsunami, the side of the home facing the coast was constructed with a 4-foot high concrete wall to resist the surge and impact forces of debris.

Other sustainable features include:
–Marvin double-pane, low-E, argon-filled windows with a U-value of 0.28
–Closed-cell spray foam for sealing cavities around the top and bottom plate, door, windows, and other penetrations of the building envelope
–Ultra-efficient Daikin-Altherma air-to-water heat pump produces hot water for the radiant-heated floors and domestic hot water
–Salvaged kitchen and bathroom sinks


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