Your low-impact home makeover

Learn how to lighten your footprint, from easy DIY tips to the top things to keep in mind for a sustainable home renovation

Top green home designs in the West

Sustainable materials and eco-friendly design principles reign at these exemplary low-impact homes

Self-sufficient home
Photo by Ed Caldwell

Self-sufficient home

The torn-paper profile of the Sierra Nevada makes a rugged backdrop for this angular, contemporary home that employs alternative construction techniques and solar technologies. Thick walls of rammed earth use straw bales as low-cost insulation. Salvaged lumber was turned into beams, flooring, and interior siding. Kitchen counters incorporate recycled glass. Solar-heated water circulates in a radiant-heat floor that is further warmed by winter sun. In summer, the roof overhang shades windows, while thick, highly insulated walls keep it from overheating. Photovoltaic panels on the roof and on a trellis make the house largely independent from the utility power grid.

More: Discover more innovative Western Home Awards winners

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