The latest and greatest real estate trend is without a doubt—”green” homes. Thanks to the growing environmental movement, buyers are more knowledgeable than ever about how a green home benefits not only the health of the environment but also their own bank accounts. For those who are in the market for a new home and are specifically looking for green features, they might seek homes with third-party certifications such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), GreenPoint Rated, or Built Green—or at the very least, look for homes  constructed using sustainable building methods, recycled materials, solar/wind power, water harvesting, and other eco-conscious tactics. With some of the most respected architects in the business onboard with the shift to green, architectural design has not suffered for the sake of saving the Earth’s precious resources. On the contrary, some of the most stunning homes on the market have the green gene.

One great example of eco-style is journalist Lisa Ling’s 4,300 square-foot Los Angeles home, which has been called “The Greenest Home in Santa Monica.” It is LEED Platinum-Certified, features solar panels and recycled materials, and has a bold, modern exterior. It’s a great demonstration of just how attractive going green can be for those willing and able to make the investment.

Since today is Earth Day, it seemed only fitting to devote our latest spotlight to green architecture.

DrawAccording to a survey, 85% of those surveyed said they’d like to own an eco-friendly home. That’s not a fluke. There are great advantages to owning a green home: saving money, adding resale value, aiding the environment and personal health are just a few of the bigger draws for homebuyers.

Architects: While green architecture is still a growing field and many contemporary architects balk at the notion that it’s even a style (as opposed to simply a standard by which all new homes should be built), a few names have already made a tremendous impact on home design. Eric Corey Freed and his architectural firm, organicARCHITECT are well-known in the Bay Area, as Freed himself was named “Best Green Architect” (2005) and “Best Visionary” (2007) by San Francisco Magazine.  Thom Mayne and his Los Angeles-based Morphosis firm create structures with “long-term, eco-friendly benefits” with features such as green roofs, solar power, and outer walls that are thermally efficient. Marco DiMaccio of L.A.-based Punchouse Ecodesign Group is another name tossed around–since he was the mastermind behind Lisa Ling’s green home. William McDonough is also major influencer in the design world and is best known as a founding partner of the Make It Right Foundation (the creator of affordable, green homes in New Orleans’ lower ninth ward) with actor, Brad Pitt. Last, but far from least, is the “Father of Green”—Frank Lloyd Wright. While his designs don’t necessarily meet the green standards of today, his philosophy of building in harmony with nature (rather than destroying it to build) was definitely on the right environmental track and shaped the ideals of many of today’s architects.

Elements to Look for: Of course, LEED-certified or other third party rated green homes will be the easiest to spot on the market. But if you’re concerned about budget, don’t get overly concerned with labels. You can always start out slow by looking for smaller spaces (small is the new big!) to minimize your footprint. And make sure you understand the difference between active and passive techniques (which can make a major diference in price). Examples of active systems might include solar photovoltaic panels, wind power, wave energy, and use of solar power (all of which are typically more expensive).  Passive techniques might include site orientations that make good use of natural light and shade, quality insulation for heating and cooling, skylights, cornices on the exterior, and ventilators. For even more green benefits, you might even seek out homes with “green roofs,” drought-tolerant landscaping, and graywater systems. And don’t forget to look for features like tankless water heaters, low-flush toilets, and Energy Star-rated appliances.(These items are fairly easy and affordable add-ons if your dream home isn’t as green as you’d like it to be!)


Obviously there are green homes in every neighborhood across the state—so there is no one neighborhood that is more environmentally friendly than the next. What we can tell you is that there are concentrations of green homes in Southern California’s Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu and Palm Desert, as well as Northern California’s Marin County, Berkley, and Sacramento areas. And just to give you an idea, Coldwell Banker currently features nine LEED-certified homes in California ranging from a $739,998 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath home to an $11,900,000 modern, green-roofed estate. 

Tell us: Which one of these sustainable residences have the green factor you’re looking for?

1147 Hill Main-BLOG

1147 Hill Rd
Montecito, CA 93108


Sac Green

2003 Vizcaya Walk
Sacramento, CA 95818

Lead image courtesy: Los Angeles Times