Green Your Home With Award-Winning, Innovative Techniques

AIA 2010 Housing AwardsGoing green when you design or furnish your home can be daunting these days. To be truly sustainable you have to know your LEED from your low-VOC, and how to stuff insulation made from shredded denim into your roof (especially if you want to reap a "green premium" when you sell).

So it's good to see that architects are taking up the challenge and leading the charge with innovative ideas on integrating the best of sustainable principles into residential design, often at low or moderate cost -- which has always been a challenge for homeowners.

So while the recently announced winners of the American Institute of Architects' annual Housing Awards aren't focused solely on green design, there's certainly a trend. A close look at the 2010 honorees suggests that the profession is thinking sustainable in in a big way -- from rainwater harvesting to airtight building envelopes and native, drought-resistant landscaping.

We picked some great examples of green design from around the country -- and from single-family homes to affordable multifamily complexes -- to help inspire your own transition to a sustainable home.

One- and Two-Family Residences

Minneapolis, Minn.
A small 1939 Cape Cod house gets an addition that captures winter and summer breezes and is based on Passiv Haus criteria, the ultimate in zero energy goals -- all on a modest budget. (Click here for more info and images.)

Port Townsend Residence
Port Townsend, Washington
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Natural ventilation, sun-shading and rainwater harvesting give this rural retreat sustainable credentials, from the firm that designed Bill Gates' mega-palace. (Click here for more info and images.)

Spiral House
Old Greenwich, Conn.
Joeb Moore + Partners Architects
The front porch of this stunning wood-clad house terminates in a gray-water cistern, adding a cleverly sustainable element. (Click here for more info and images.)

Ferrous House
Spring Prarie, Wis.
Johnsen Schmaling Architects
This aging suburban home was reinvented as a contemporary one with green touches -- like low-VOC paint, recycled steel and locally sourced woods -- instead of becoming a teardown. (Click here for more info and images.)

Multi-Family Living

Safari Drive
Scottsdale, Arizona
The Miller/Hull Partnership
This mixed-use development adapts to the desert climate with a "cool tower" that passively cools the courtyard with a wind-driven technology popular in the Middle East. (Click here for more info and images.)

Gish Apartments
San Jose, California
Office of Jerome King
A 35-unit affordable housing complex (with special units for residents with developmental disabilities) is the first multifamily building in the U.S. to win LEED Gold for homes certification. (Click here for more info and images.)

For even more inspiring homes, check out all the award recipients of the 2010 AIA Housing Awards for Architecture.

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