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USA Today's Top Green Homes: Efficient, Affordable and Beautiful

1/10/2011 12:00:00 AM

Tags: green homes, Passive House, straw bale home, earthen home, Studio 804

Corey Saft 

At this time of year we love looking back—in order to look forward—at the highlights of the year just passed. This morning I read USA Today reporter Wendy Koch’s Best Green Homes of 2010 post with much interest. Koch has been an advocate for green building in mainstream America, and the homes on her list are among our favorites as well. We love that Americans are getting serious about making their homes as energy efficient, green and beautiful as possible.

For her favorites in the energy efficiency category, Koch chose three homes that meet the Passive House Institute's strict standards. (Her  favorite—Corey Saft's Passive House-certified home in Lafayette, Louisiana—is in the current issue of Natural Home.) Koch highlighted Joe Turner and Rebecca Guymon's modern home in Salt Lake City, architect Nancy Schultz' lake home in Isabella, Minnesota, and the Studio 804 home built by University of Kansas School of Architecture students in Kansas City. I visited the Studio 804 home, perched atop a hill with wide views of the downtown skyline, a few years ago when we shot it for Natural Home. It’s great to see it get the recognition it deserves.

Koch also gave a nod to single mother Carolyn Roberts, whose story of building her own straw bale home is one of my all-time favorite Natural Home articles—and Koch’s too. “Her story was the one I enjoyed writing about the most in 2010,” she states.

Koch’s list also includes a small earthen home in Virginia, a three-bedroom, two-bath Habitat for Humanity project in Bay St. Louis, Missippi, built for $90,000 and a grand vertical hillside house in Marin, California. She recognized my friend Matt Grocoff, who’s been documenting the renovation of his110-year-old Victorian in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Greenovation TV; a Malibu, California, home built from an old Boeing 747; and a modular home in St. Paul, Minnesota.

We agree with Koch that the exponential number of homeowners who are building and renovating according to stringent Passive House Institute standards is a positive harbinger of the future. Koch gave her 2010 Green House award to Joe Turner's Passive-House certified home in Salt Lake City for its attention to “cost, style and energy efficiency.” We expect to see many more where that one came from.

Photo: University of Louisiana professor Corey Saft's super-efficient home, featured in the current issue of Natural Home, is one of USA Today's favorites. 

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