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