This minimalistic, energy-efficient home in Zurich, Switzerland uses geothermal energy to produce its hot water, and a pair of 300-foot-deep boreholes that transfer warmth through a heat pump provide the under-floor heating. With all of the technology keeping this family off the grid, this house is so efficient that the architect jokes that one light sculpture, made up of two rows of bulbs, which can be seen in the reflection from a window in the living room, uses as much energy as the rest of the house put together.
Design teams at Honda and UC Davis built this 1,945-square-foot house 15 miles west of Sacramento that uses experimental and on-the-market technology to accomplish net-zero energy consumption. The Honda Smart Home features a 9.5kW solar array, which produces a current directly from the panels to the electric car charger without any conversion loss.
A Danish family left behind their 1970s suburban home to live as test subjects in this green-home prototype, the world’s first Active House. Starting with the roof, designers added 540 square feet of solar cells to generate electricity for the lighting, household appliances, and the home’s automated control system, which controls interior and exterior sunscreens and opens windows to naturally ventilate the space. The system will feed excess energy back to the grid and leave the family with zero carbon debt.
The seven townhomes that make up the Auburn 7 development in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake, each sized around 2,000 square feet, share more than just a walkway, garden, and parking units—they all contribute to a net-zero energy design. The couple that came up with this concept added radiant heating in the floors, tankless water heaters, low-flush toilets, Energy Star kitchen appliances, and high-efficiency HVAC, as well as solar-ready wiring and roof jacks for owners who chose solar energy—all but one of the new homeowners installed solar panels. One of the homes also has water-saving artificial grass on the patio.
The resident of this 750-square-foot loft uses a efficiency-oriented Nest thermostat in place of her 1970s model, proving that a house doesn’t have to be new to implement smart design.
The midcentury Butterfly House in Austin, built by A.D. Stenger, received a number of 21st-century updates, including double-pane, insulating, 98-percent UV-blocking Marvin windows to reduce cooling costs.