Concord Green Home is a transitional style green home which has been designed by ZeroEnergy Design, in collaboration with interior designer and homeowner Kauffman Tharp Design, located in a neighborhood of existing older homes in Concord, Massachusetts. This home is a walkable distance from the center of town. Among the design priorities of the homeowner was to be a healthy home with excellent air quality, to use Not So Big House principals to maximize space, to be energy efficient, and to anticipate future uses and needs as owners change. The design evolved from two iconic Massachusetts vernacular precedents: the farmhouse and the iconic Cape Cod and Islands style. The overall form is taken from the former, while the latter provided inspiration for details like the clean white trim. Both precedents also inspired “rough luxe” meets coastal interiors.
To maintain health and air quality, eco-friendly elements include a fresh air ventilation system with energy recovery, a whole house HEPA filtration system, radiant and radiator heating distribution, and low/no VOC materials. The home’s energy performance focuses on passive heating/cooling techniques, natural daylighting, an improved building envelope, and efficient mechanical systems, collectively achieving overall energy performance of 50% better than code. To address the site opportunities, the home utilizes a footprint that maximizes southern exposure in the rear while still capturing the park view in the front.
“A metal roof is the right place to invest, not only for its durability, but also for its aesthetic,” states the architect. Those little details you see at the edge of the roof are snow guards, which keep the snow from sliding off the roof into huge piles on the ground.
The front door opens into a hallway that extends from the front of the house to the back, providing a view to the backyard as well as a straight line to a door that leads to the patio. “It’s a ‘stone runner’ that connects the front yard to the backyard,” explains the architect. In fact, the same bluestone is used in the form of pavers on the front walk, covers the hallway, and then continues out on to the patio. This creates a strong connection from the front yard through the house and out to the back yard.
The entryway incorporates farmhouse touches like this bench, it also has an open, light and elegant style throughout, hinted at via the Murano glass chandelier. Healthiness begins at the front door; remove your dusty shoes and pop them into the storage bench so as not to track dirt indoors. Continuing the war against dust, dirt, pollen and other allergens, the first floor utilizes radiant heat flooring throughout. This kind of heating is a healthy alternative to forced air system because it helps keeps allergens from circulating.
“The kitchen is the living center of home life these days, a place where everyone loves to spend time,” explains the architect. “We wanted to embrace this and celebrate the kitchen space. Thus, it has the cathedral ceiling, the views outdoors, and can be used in a number of ways.” Flexibility was built in, providing places for cooking, drinking morning coffee, gathering, having a meal or doing homework. The cathedral ceiling gives this kitchen an open feeling, making it seem larger than it really is. The skylights and glass doors let the light from the southern exposure flood the space. These doors also extend the kitchen out onto the patio, providing access both physically and visually.
Floors throughout the first floor are heart pine.
This nautical-themed space is in what’s known as an “away room,” which is a quiet spot that can be isolated from the rest of the house. Part of smart, sustainable design is to plan for the future and provide multiple uses within the floor plan. While a current owner needs an office, this room also connects to a full, ADA-accessible bath and can serve as a first floor bedroom if their needs should change or if future owners have different needs. The doors have been outfitted for window treatments for privacy should this change ever take place.
These doors provide a farmhouse vernacular detail on the bottom, and the glass on top allows the away room to share natural light with the dining room. When necessary, they can close off the away room, but they can be opened to make both spaces feel larger.
Kauffman Tharp scored the candle lanterns from Vagabond Vintage and gave them a makeover that began with “a paint wash that looks like zinc,” she says. “We tied them with thick, rough manila rope to plumbing pipe that spans between the ceiling beams (I did a bronze paint wash on the pipes to match the curtain rods). Battery-operated pillar candles from Restoration Hardware have built-in timers.”
Tip: “Hang natural linen draperies high and wide at the windows to add verticality to the space, while blocking none of the natural light,” Tharp advises.
The large custom Belgian linen pendants make a style statement that stands up to the scale of the ceiling, yet blend with all of the natural textures and colors in the room. While the heart pine counters lend a farmhouse feel, the island’s counter is a more contemporary concrete surface. The island is 10 feet long and incorporates a Shaw’s Original Farmhouse sink, re-purposed cabinets, and a pair of Miele dishwashers on one side, as well as seating on the other side.
This nook is “a really great informal and comfortable way to incorporate more seating into the kitchen; seating that has a view outdoors,” states the architect. As a bonus, it includes extra storage under the cushioned bench. As for the nook’s furnishings, Kauffman Tharp says, “I love to use items intended for a completely different purpose in a whole new way. I was attracted by the texture of this basket I found on sale at West Elm. I turned it upside down, hung it with jute twine, and paired it with $9.99 spot lights from IKEA “High style for low money. Fun.” The antique table is from Spain. Kauffman Tharp fitted it with an iron bowl on the bottom shelf, which once held hot coals for warming one’s feet.
The furnishings in the living room have a bit of Belgian flair, industrial touches, and the overall feeling of an elegant yet relaxed coastal getaway. “Industrial and vintage elements keep it interesting,” Kauffman Tharp says. “I repurposed an old glass pie display as a side table with seashells inside, and the rusted tin chimney piece from France acts as a quirky foil on the low table.”
Similarly, seating areas and built-ins were designed for the living room. “The furniture and what would be happening between the windows and walls was always part of the plans.” A large mirror in the living room makes the space feel larger and reflects light and a view of the park.
This bathroom borrows light and space from the staircase. It is tucked underneath the staircase (hence the slanted ceiling), and it borrows the natural light from a seating area on the landing.
What would usually be a first floor powder room has instead become a full, ADA wheelchair-accessible bathroom complete with a shower. “The bathroom is detailed like a big shower; a European-style wet room,” Horowitz explains. “The walls are completely covered in tile, and they slope toward a floor drain. Because the room is so beautifully finished, you don’t feel like you are walking into a big shower stall,” says Horowitz. A few eco-friendly moves include a dual-flush toilet and using a piece of scrap marble for the counter.
“We were always looking for moments and opportunities to create space and make the best of everything,” Horowitz says. The storage bench and recessed reading shelf create “a nice place to sit down with a book; the windows were placed low to work well on the facade; from the bench they provide a view out to the playground that is at eye level.”
Creating a special, cozy alcove for a bed creates a comfortable space just for sleeping, and leaves a lot of other space to use for “sitting space, play areas, dressing and storage” the rest of the day.
By preventing the bed from hogging up the whole room, a comfortable seating area in the master bedroom provides a relaxing place to read. The painting is by Tharp, and the fabric on the chairs is by Lee Industries, known for sustainable practices.
This vanity was fashioned from an antique kitchen worktable. This was not an easy task: The top was crooked and it needed to be plumbed. But it was well worth the effort, as it adds that unique European farmhouse touch to the room. The sinks are from Signature Hardware and the faucets are made by Rohl’s.
Although you can’t see it in the photos, this master bathroom also incorporates a laundry room. “Laundry rooms used to be placed in basements, then they moved to the first floor, and today, we realize it’s most convenient to have it on the same floor as the bedrooms, where we put our clothes away,” Horowitz explains.
The metal roof helps to keep this area cooler in the summer, reflecting the warmth from the sun. This room is another flexible space that can be used as a studio, home office, exercise room, playroom or extra bedroom. All of the mechanical necessities are tucked underneath the other gable, leaving this space open and usable.
“If you ask me whether it is better to finish a basement or an attic, I will vote attic every time,” Kauffman Tharp says. “Dark and dank vs. sunny and breezy. Which would you choose?”
“I have always dreamed of living on the ocean, and yet we love this town. So, I designed the house to live like a vacation home. Why not get that feeling every day of the year?” Kauffman Tharp says. “The interiors are relaxed, use natural materials and connect with the outdoors — barefoot simplicity meets casual elegance. These are the things that we all love about a vacation home, and I help my design clients build those features into their own homes.”
Photos: Eric Roth
H3 House was designed by 314 Architecture Studio to give a sense of connection to the water element that surrounds it, inspired by the love of the owner for yachting, situated in Athens, Greece. The detached property covers a total area of 1,000 square meters, set in a plot of land 7,000 square meters. The relationship to water is in evidence with artificial pools around the exterior of the house, creating a sense of cool tranquility. The water for the smaller artificial pools and the main large swimming pool is supplied by a borehole, and the water supply for irrigating the garden areas comes from a rainwater drainage and collection system. The bio-climatic design of the house allows the sun to supply heat to the property in winter, and to mitigate its impact in summer when hot air is vented to the outside. The use of geothermal energy provides energy saving cooling and heating systems via fan coil systems. The solar spiral system installed in roof areas operates in combination with solar panels installed to the rear side of the plot, and are used to heat the pool water. Photovoltaic panels for electricity generation are installed at the same point.
The house uses eco-friendly materials, and the interior, including all the furniture, was designed to meet the owner’s specific requirements. The design aims to create a luxury ergonomic environment with clean lines and a minimalistic aesthetic. An abstract sculpture by Yiannis Aspra in the surrounding grounds of the house is a striking feature. The architecture, building materials, as well as the energy management and conservation technologies conform to the highly dynamic requirements of a modern residential home, but at the same time are environmentally friendly.
Photos: Courtesy of 314 Architecture Studio
The Kerchum Residence is a perfect mix of modern home design and sustainability designed by Natural Balance Home Builders in Vancouver, British Columbia. The home is located on an unsuspecting street in Vancouver’s Dunbar neighborhood, is the first LEED Platinum single-family residence in Western Canada. The home features clean, modern lines that distinguish it from the surrounding craftsman-style homes, yet with a proportion and scale that feels right at home on this quiet West Side street.
Photos: Courtesy of Natural Balance Home Builders
We just received information about M-22 House, a modern residence designed by Michael Fitzhugh Architect that is nestled along the top of a tall ridge overlooking West Grand Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan. This incredible dwelling has been designed with its own hydroelectric power generation, among many other wonderful green features.
From the architect: The design of the house recreates the sense of discovery felt while ascending the back of the ridge to the views revealed once at the top. The materials and spaces were inspired by the elements; water, wind, earth and fire. From each room the materials, light and a strong connection to the site is felt. The house also boasts an innovative geothermal heating and cooling systems along with its own hydroelectric power generator which uses rainwater, geothermal water and gravity to generate power for the house. A mix of concrete, steel, composite siding and large glass openings complement the clean form of the house’s exterior.
This is a truly unique structure and is a model for future sustainable design and construction methods.
Photos: Courtesy of Michael Fitzhugh Architect
Chalk Hill Off-Grid Cabin is a straw-bale getaway home for a San Francisco couple and their two active boys, located at 4,300 feet elevation in the wilds of Nevada County. Designed by Arkin Tilt Architects, the 872 square foot residence mediates the northern edge of a forest glade, with driveway access and entry against a steeper slope to the north. The entry/mudroom, bath and mechanical space are located in the wood-framed, wood-sheathed piece. One open living/dining/kitchen/bed room is half a level lower, accessing a terrace at grade, opening to the glade and sun from the south. One sleeping space is located in an open loft above the kitchen which provides additional sleeping space for kids and guests, and the other is a more intimate queen bed sized sleeping bay along the opposite edge of the living room.
The metal roofs, earth-cement on bale walls, and fire safe perimeter aim to survive a wildfire,
Solar hot water collectors provide domestic hot water as well as space heating by flowing the heated fluid first through a heat exchanger and then into tubing buried in a 3 foot bed of sand beneath the floor slabs.
Queen-sized sleeping area in bay.
P.V. Panels on the roof harvest electricity, stored in batteries at the house, powering the well pump and other domestic needs.
One sleeping space is located in an open loft above the kitchen.
Photos: Eric Millette Photography
This prefabricated cabin is comprised of only 550 square feet, built on Lake Pend Orielle near Sandpoint, Idaho. The one bedroom, one bathroom cabin was designed by FabCab and built by Selle Valley Construction, Inc, using timber frame and SIPs (structural insulated panel). SIPs, are a composite building material consisting of an insulating layer of rigid polymer foam sandwiched between two layers of structural board. FabCab designs and sells pre-fabricated environmentally-friendly homes and accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The company specializes in design for all ages and environmentally sustainable design by providing clients eco-friendly and universally designed cabins that support healthy lifestyles. There are many uses for FabCabs including a home, guest house, home office, writer’s or artist’s studio, caregiver’s residence, in-law apartment, rental unit or a cabin on a vacation property.
Exposed Fir timber frame beams and tongue and groove ceiling contrast nicely with the rich gray paint. Castle Combe wide plank flooring.
Custom floating cabinets with gray quartz counter tops and stainless subway tile backsplash.
Fir barn doors with large appliance pulls.
Custom floating cabinets with gray quartz counter tops. Brizo Trevi Cross faucet and shower head. Tierra Sol Nu Travertine “Walnut” vein-cut floor, shower and back-splash tile.
Steam shower with Brizo Trevi Cross fixtures. Tierra Sol Nu Travertine “Walnut” vein-cut tile.
Photos: Marie Dominique Verdier
With a compact form and several integrated sustainable systems, the Capitol Hill Residence in Seattle, Washington achieves the client’s goals to maximize the site’s views and resources while responding to its micro climate. The residence has been designed by Balance Associates Architects, located on a ridge with a 180 degree view of the surrounding lakes and mountains. The form of the house cantilevers off its concrete base on three sides in order to stay within the footprint of the previous house.
A majority of the glazing is located on the eastern side of the house to capture the view and to provide privacy from neighbors. The center section of the house is designed as a translucent slot to filter daylight into the core. This area serves as the main circulation space in the house and is planned to contain a translucent stair and bridge.
Sustainable systems include a rain water catchment system in the form of an entry water feature, solar panels, and solar shading in addition to our standard sustainable building practices such as high levels of insulation, low-e glazing, and selection of environmentally friendly materials.
Photos: Steve Keating Photography
The Riverhouse apartment embodies the idea of luxury and eco-friendly living in New York City designed by Thom Filicia. The LEED certified Riverhouse is a luxury high-rise that overlooks Battery Park and probably one of New York City’s “greenest” buildings. The condo is comprised of 2,500 square feet of living space with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The entire apartment was conceptualized for empty-nesters and designed using environmentally friendly, sustainable materials such as natural fiber fabrics, FSC-certified woods, low-voc paints and wall paper glues, recycled objects and of course, antiques. Filicia designed the space to be beautiful and livable, proving that you don’t have to sacrifice style to design green.
In the living room above, the rug is made from vintage kilm runners and cut up felt. The green glass lamp is made from recycled wine bottles and the telescope in the corner is vintage.
The apartment features a fairly neutral color palette infused with organic earth tones and rich, natural textures such as the biodegradeable grasscloth wallpaper that you see throughout the space. There are a few bright spots though, such as the yellow sofa pictured here. The dining table features a paperstone tabletop and a FSC certified wood base wrapped in recycled zinc panels. The chandelier above is made from recycled jet airplane parts and the floor lamp is made from recycled plumbing parts.
The guest room walls are covered in wood pulp wallpaper with eco-friendly metallic detail. The bedside tables are made from old sewing machine stands, the lamp base is unglazed ceramic and all of the bedding is eco-friendly.
The orange bedside tables are linen sealed with a water-based lacquer. The table lamp was made from old ship’s chain. The sheets are made of naturally sustainable bamboo and even the Ecobamboo mattress, made by Magniflex, are environmentally friendly.
Many of the furnishings in the apartment were custom, such as this sectional sofa in the library which has a FSC certified birch plywood frame and cushions made of organic latex. The coffee table on the left is made from recycled aluminum.
Photos: Courtesy of Thom Filicia
Perched high upon Yeomalt Bluff, the Ellis Residence enjoys a commanding 180 degree view of Puget Sound and the Seattle skyline. The owners requested that the residence be sustainable, and the resulting design by Coates Design Architects is the first LEED Platinum home outside the city of Seattle. The owners had a special goal in mind when they decided to build a sustainable home in the beautiful surroundings of Bainbridge Island, Washington. The owners’ goal was two-fold: they wanted to prove that sustainability can be achieved without compromising a modern aesthetic design and they wanted to motivate others to follow suit.
The design limits its impact on the environment with a multitude of sustainable practices. Through implementation of geothermal, photovoltaic, solar hot water, and advanced heat-recovery technologies this 2,500 home has succeeded in reducing the energy consumption by more than 70% compared to a typical home construction. The home also makes use of rain water cisterns for irrigation of native landscaping and a vegetated roof. The project’s ecologically small footprint was not just constrained to the construction of the new house. Rather than demolishing the existing structure on the site, the team deconstructed, it effectively diverting 98% of its material from the landfill.
The home features intimate multi-use spaces that frame exceptional views of Seattle across Puget Sound. The view is best seen from the dining/living room’s large expanse of glass windows and doors that open out to a concrete patio. Another great location to capture the vistas beyond is the sunken concrete tub in the master bath and on the accessible vegetated roof. The anticipation of the owners, Ed and Joanne’s unique goal encompassed a 3 year process. This is a small price to pay when your home is a model of sustainability. Ed states it best when he describes the first morning in their home. “When I saw the sunrise with the skyline of Seattle as a backdrop the whole process was all worth it…”
There are sliding and bi-folding doors that transform smaller rooms into larger gathering spaces that can be easily connected to the outdoors. “Every room in the house serves at least two functions, and usually four or five,” said Coates.
The home’s roof became a vegetated garden patio providing a place to relax – and greater insulation.
This contemporary Montecito, California home has been designed by Maienza-Wilson Interior Design + Architecture, as a custom luxury and sustainable home that is LEED Platinum certified. The home has two floor-to-ceiling glass walls that noiselessly retract, fully opening the southwest corner of the space to the cool ocean breezes and magnificent views. Sustainable features includes radiant floor heating, icynene spray foam for insulation and a 5,000-gallon cistern located underneath the building to store rainwater to irrigate the low-water-demand garden that has been designed to complement the Zen-like feeling of the home. Flat rooftops have been planted with drought-resistant grasses to provide passive cooling. Photovoltaic solar panels are hidden from view on the butterfly roof, providing enough electricity to operate the entire home. The building and spaces have been oriented to take advantage of the natural sunlight so lights do not even have to be turned on during the day. Besides all of the green features, this home also offers spa bathrooms, wine cellar and an outdoor seating area surrounding a Zen-like fire pit.
The state-of-the-art kitchen plays an integral role in the open plan living room and dining area; retractable floor-to-ceiling glass walls extend the living room into the outdoors.
Under the floating staircase in the entryway, oversize recycled plywood “pebble” seats invite guests to sit down and remove their shoes, which reduces the amount of contaminants that are tracked throughout the house.
The pool house, clad in sustainably harvested ipe wood, provides a warm contrast to the luminous pool; floating steps line the edge of the spa.