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For the world’s most innovative designers and architects, green is the new black. A home can be luxurious, historic, glamorous, commodious, even fun. But can it also be sustainably designed and eco-friendly
It can be all of these things, according to some of today’s most
innovative designers and builders. Earth-conscious does not have to
mean “doing without.” Quite the contrary: chic, even dazzlingly
beautiful homes around the world are now sporting green roofs, drawing
power from geothermal energy, and making use of solar panels year round.
The technology we currently deem “eco-friendly” will probably be de rigueur
in coming years.
Many companies that were founded decades or even a
century ago to produce glass, ceramics, chemicals, and electronics are
now riding the wave of green design. Here are just a few properties from
trailblazing innovators who are making sustainable design the ultimate
1. Sustainable and Locally Sourced Materials This
eco-friendly practice is actually not at all new: before international
shipping became commonplace, “locally sourced” was simply the method all
builders used to construct houses as they chose from stone, wood,
thatch, or local clay, depending on which resources were abundant in a
particular region. To reduce the carbon footprint of today’s
construction practices, architects and contractors are seeking local
solutions to new design challenges.
2. LED Lighting Electricity drastically
transformed the nighttime look and feel of interiors by replacing the
soft flicker of candlelight and gas lamps with the bright, on-demand
illumination of incandescent bulbs. Lighting is experiencing a radical
change once again thanks to advances in LED technology. LED bulbs are
vastly more energy efficient than the filament bulbs of the 20th
century, which means the carbon footprint of a home can be greatly
reduced without switching off the lights. The Dutch multinational
corporation Philips, founded in 1891 and now a global leader in LED
lighting, even produces LED-powered luminous textiles called Kvadrat Soft Cells that can add an atmospheric glow to any interior without the need for a single fixture.
3. LEED Certification In the industry, LEED certification has become a byword for eco-friendly construction practices. LEED (Leadership
in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building certification
program from the U.S. Green Building Council that recognizes a project’s
efficiency standards. More than 150,000 homes around the world are
LEED-certified, a number that more than doubled between 2011 and 2013
according to a recent report by the Council. This figure is expected to increase steadily in 2015 and beyond.
4. New Habitats for Sea Life One of the most
exciting trends in eco-friendly building isn’t happening on land, but on
the ocean, where innovative new projects are creating stable habitats
human beings and for the sea life below. Coral, fish, anemones, and all
manner of microscopic creatures can carve out a home using the base of
each island, as though it were a natural rock formation. Christie’s
International Real Estate and its affiliate Dutch Docklands are making
eco-luxury history with the announcement of Amillarah Private Islands, a new chain of man-made atolls designed by internationally renowned Dutch designer Koen Olthuis.
These high-end floating oases are beautiful, luxurious, and
environmentally sustainable. The first Amillarah Islands will take shape
in the Maldives, with additional clusters in Dubai in the works.
Olthuis, one of the leading thinkers engaged with global climate issues
and a member of the Flood Resilient Group, is inspired by centuries-old
Dutch ingenuity in the management of water via everything from river
dams to floating houseboats. Amillarah Private Islands has partnered
with the Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society to refine the
process of creating artificial reefs.
5. Vegetable Gardens and Orchards The fun and
relaxation of tending a garden is a proven way to clear the mind and
enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. And there’s an added benefit:
vegetable gardens are as good for the planet as they are for the
gardener. With increasing interest in organic produce, home vegetable
gardens have become a feature of luxury estates, where a scaled-down
version of the “farm-to-table” concept can be brought right into the
kitchen. Gardening promotes the cycle of growth and decomposition that
maintains healthy soil, and growing plants produce oxygen—as well as the
ingredients for a farm-fresh salad. With enough space, an avid gardener
can tend a grove of citrus or apple trees or even produce wine from a
small vineyard. Like vegetable gardens, orchards surround a home with
fresh air and greenery, offer natural shade, and perfume the air with
the subtle fragrances of fruit and flowers.
6. Green Roofs and Walls The earliest “green
roof” may have been the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, but it was
not until the early 1970s in Germany that technology caught up with
aesthetics and green roofs became a viable design option. Today, green
roofs are so practical and effective that mainstream, design-focused
authorities like HGTV are offering primers on how to install your own.
Luxury homes have incorporated green roofs and balconies for a mix of
efficient, natural cooling and landscaped, aesthetic beauty.
7. Solar Panels Using the inexhaustible energy of
the sun, solar rooftop panels provide a lightweight, inexpensive way to
boost the “passive” energy of a home, storing power for future use
without the need for any wasteful processes. Solar panels can be
attractive, too. Sweden’s SolTech Energy
produces beautiful glass roof tiles that allow builders to create
energy-efficient, solar-powered homes that draw design inspiration from a
classic architectural style. Solar power is among the most exciting
innovations in green design.
According to Tech Insider,
a total of one million American homes are predicted to have solar
panels by early 2016. On the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John, this tropical beachfront villa
offers a thoughtful model for how to combine solar power with luxury
resort living. Vida de Mar has been designed to take full advantage of
the year-round Caribbean sunshine with its newly fitted 20kW
solar-paneled roof. The property enjoys an idyllic setting amid lush
vegetation with its own private beach overlooking the azure waters of
Devers Bay. The five-bedroom, five-bathroom estate is offered in turnkey
condition, making it ideal as a private compound or as a luxury
vacation rental property.
8. Smart Home Technology Today’s eco-friendly houses aren’t just sustainable, they’re very smart. From in-wall touch screens that control a home’s light, heat, irrigation, sound, and more to all of the options that are now available connecting your home from your smart-phone, these technologies are
perfect for those who split their time among several residences,
allowing homeowners to program such features remotely so energy is not
wasted when a home is empty, management is in the palm of one’s hand when an investment property is being rented and all of the luxuries of home are at your beckon call when you and your family are there basking in the glory. Haven Smart Home Solutions is Colorado’s top home automation and connected living specialty firm for those in the high country and beyond.
9. Geothermal Heating and Cooling Like
solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling elegantly harnesses the
forces of nature to provide optimal indoor conditions at any time of
year. This technology allows homeowners to make the most luxurious
home’s environmental footprint relatively small, even as its design
makes a big aesthetic impact. Globally renowned design and construction sustainability firm Verdigris Group can assist you in facilitating the development of your new earth powered luxury retreat.
10. Private Eco Preserves Green homes can
incorporate more than eco-friendly construction and cutting-edge
technology. For those searching for adventure as well as an
environmentally conscious lifestyle, combined with all the comforts of
home, a property located in a private eco preserve provides the perfect
Whatever your desires are when it comes to sustainable living, Mountain Life Sustainability has the expertise, the contacts and the know-how to put you in the best hands to get the job done right, whatever the job might be.
Contact us today with any of your questions – we’re thrilled to be your concierge to the better life! Reach us at: 800 805 2830 or drop us a message at your convenience: info@MountainLifeCompanies.com
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