Peek Inside 8 Of The World’s Greenest Homes

A new book from Princeton Architectural Press surveys gorgeous “passive” houses that adhere to an emerging standard of sustainability.

Do you live in a green home? If you’re like me, you’ve probably done your best to green what you’ve got—swapping out incandescent bulbs, installing a Nest thermostat, buying that reclaimed-wood dining table–while continuing to live in a drafty, inefficient building that wasn’t built with sustainability in mind.


There’s a movement quietly afoot that wants to change that, one house at a time. One of the most efficient ways to build a home, Passive House design–capable of decreasing energy consumption by a whopping 75%–has gained traction in Europe but remains largely unpracticed in the United States. In The Greenest Home: Superinsulated and Passive House Design, a new book from Princeton Architectural Press, Julie Torres Moskovitz makes a convincing case for why it should become the standard for new residential construction, showcasing recent projects that marry hard-nosed Passive House techniques with gorgeous architecture. For those who worry that sustainability means sacrificing aesthetics, the book should be an assuring counterargument.

All 18 projects selected by Moskovitz display the core Passive House principles: Each has an airtight, highly insulated shell that won’t allow air in or out. Instead, an HRV system pumps fresh air in and expels the stale air out (that exhaust is also used to preheat incoming fresh air during cold months). High-performing windows allow solar heat indoors, while sunscreens avoid overheating. The interior temperature is kept at approximately 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity is reduced, thereby eliminating a cause of mold and condensation. All of this contributes to a highly efficient machine for living geared toward the comfort of its inhabitants.

Did I mention the energy savings? Some of the projects in The Greenest Home, including Bamboo House (pictured above), generate more energy than they use.

If that doesn’t sell you on the virtues of a Passive House, just take a gander at the drool-worthy residences designed around the most stringent guidelines for sustainability. And should you feel inspired to build (or retrofit) a home to similar standards, you’re in luck: Moskovitz–a Brooklyn-based designer responsible for the first certified Passive House in New York City–provides detailed project descriptions and plans.

Pre-order the book here for $29.

About the author

A former editor at such publications as WIRED, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company, Belinda Lanks has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Observer, Interior Design, and ARTnews.