I’m seeing two styles in green building. One I call the Hobbit house and the other is the Glass Box house.
One looks like the past, the other the future.
Here are some examples of the Hobbit house.
Hobbit Houses are:
low tech, low embodied energy, dark, local materials, high thermal mass, part of the earth, small, have a lot of sacrificial layers, are made from organic materials like wood, earth, hay and stone.
Here are some Glass Box examples:
Glass Box houses are:
high embodied energy, bright, high tech, from man made materials like concrete, glass and metal.
The ideal green home lies somewhere in between, although I tend to lean towards the Hobbit design because I think it is more sustainable for a world with a lot of people.
The Brooklyn green brownstones that Eco Brooklyn designs and builds are largely influenced by the existing brick box and windows, which you can’t really change. Once you cover that with living walls and a green roof you have more of a Hobbit House than a Glass Block.
We do alter the windows a bit though to get more glass into the house and increase the sunlight. This is easier done on the back garden side if it is south facing since this does not disturb the facade on the street side which could clash with the other houses on the block if you changed them too much.