Sustainable housing, or green architecture, refers to environmentally safe building designs. This type of housing can, either fully or partially, use renewable energy, such as sun or water, to power the homes. There are many different types of sustainable housing.
Green roof homes are buildings with roofs that include various kinds of plants. The vegetation brings many advantages to the home, such as good insulation that blocks noises from outside. Green roofs also often help regulate the temperature, keeping the building cooler during the summer and warmer in the winter. They can be used as gardens for growing fruits, vegetables or flowers that improve the air quality not only for the home, but also for the surrounding area.
Underground homes are another type of sustainable housing. These are usually made much like traditional homes, but are built partially or fully underground. Some have moss-covered roofs that blend in with the vegetation outside. Many of these houses make use of geothermal energy, or heat stored inside the Earth, to regulate temperature. Despite being underground, many of these houses have strategically-placed windows that allow natural sunlight to brighten them.
Modern wooden homes are also an example of green architecture. There are many variations of this type of housing, but some are rectangular-shaped and covered in oak. Wooden homes are often designed to blend in with the trees outside and may include special features like sliding glass-door ceilings to further blend the home and outdoors. Many wooden buildings are also designed to let air and light into the rooms and create a sense of space.
Glass houses are generally supported by steel frames and have walls made almost entirely from glass. This feature allows natural light to warm the entire home during the day. These homes often include photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight into electricity that can power the home at night. This system reduces electricity bills and impact on the environment. Sometimes, nature is literally included in the house, such as a tree left to continue growing through the building — it's trunk inside the home and it's branches over the roof.
Another unique type of sustainable housing is found in the form of floating homes, or houseboats. These eco-friendly houses float on water and are typically light-weight and small in size. Although houseboats are not usually large, their design typically makes the most use of space, often making them feel spacious inside. Some of these structures are filled with argon gas which helps to insulate and keep the house afloat. Many floating homes make use of solar and hydro power, or power generated from water currents, to make electricity and heat.