When building their dream retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Steve and Alexi Conine worked with architect Brad Hoyt to create a smart house that fused technology and design. Rooftop Sunpower X-Series solar panels generate about a third of the energy for the house over the course of the year. On clear, sunny summer days, they can provide energy for the entire house.
In Denmark a prototype home is so energy efficient that within 40 years it will have created enough energy not only to support the family inside along the way but also to pay back the energy used for its materials and construction: a house, in short, with no carbon debt. While the slate-clad northern facade has few windows and a steeply pitched roof, the southern facade is dominated by glass with the solar-panel-clad roof strategically angled to catch the sun.
Solar cells atop this high-tech prefab in Spain collect energy that’s used for both water systems and electricity.
In San Francisco, architect David Baker bulit what might be the city's greenest home. He developed a cantilevered frame for double-sided solar collectors that is elevated a few feet above the rooftop, with sixteen photovoltaic collectors and a 3KV system—large enough to generate more energy than the house requires in a single year. The frame’s tilted configuration actually allows the panels to collect more energy than traditional flat designs.
In Colorado, this rammed-earth home is entirely off the grid, powered by four photovoltaic panels that supply electricity to lights, small appliances, and water pumps.
The exterior of this geometric beach house in Holland cleverly mirrors its surroundings in tone and texture. Solar panels are discretely tucked into the dunes next to the house, and passive building techniques maximize energy efficiency and improve insulation.