There is a misconception that only modern or contemporary style homes are suitable for green building techniques. It is true that shed roofs, large window surfaces and clean lines that characterize contemporary homes lend themselves to green features.
However, green building involves much more than using large windows and broad sloping roof lines to capture as much passive solar energy as possible. It is about using technologies in the constuction or renovation of the building envelope that create a more air tight, energy efficient, comfortable and healthier living environment for its residents. These technologies work with any style of home.
I could take you for a tour of many homes in Jackson, Wyoming which were built as far back as 1979 which have green features, but which you would never consider to be a “green” home by looking at the exterior. These homes contain green features such as geo-thermal heat sources, super-insulated exterior walls and natural landscaping.
I can also show you newer homes with green features that would not stand out as modern. This brings up another concern that some people have expressed to me, which is that green homes may not meet the CC&R’s for some developments in Jackson Hole, where the preferred style is rustic western, or one that blends into nature. My answer to this concern is that many of the most important green features involved in the building process are not even visible in the finished product, and therefore, not objectionable to most architectural review committees.
Where conflict arises is when the exterior design of a residence is in stark contrast to homes in close proximity. In such cases, landscaping can often ”soften the edges” and provide the appropriate space between two radically different styles. I have personally experienced this situation. Five years ago my wife Ann and I built a Western contemporary style home in Jackson, using materials that would blend it into its natural setting. A couple years after we finished building, a log home was constructed next to us. Although the homes are completely different in style, they exist in harmony due to the efforts that we both took in retaining natural spaces between and around our homes, and choosing exterior materials that blended our homes into the surroundings.
And finally, you can have green features incorporated in log or other rustic western style homes. Rremember, it is the processes, building practices, and other not-so-apparent things that can be done that make a real difference in achieving the mission of a green home – to minimize the impact of the structure on the environment and create a healthier living space for your family.