The term sustainable is thrown about quite a bit these days, but there’s more to it than adding some solar panels to the roof of an inefficient building and calling it a day. True sustainability is made up of many facets, from building materials to the use of renewable energy sources to design that strives for efficiency and harmony with the surrounding environment. We think the following selections meet many of these criteria.

Waste House

The Waste House is a sustainable construction project installed at the UK’s University of Brighton. As its name suggests, the prototype home is built almost exclusively from discarded waste.

S House

Vietnam’s Vo Trong Nghia Architects has been tinkering away at the issue of providing practical, sustainable, and most importantly, cheap, homes. The result is the S House, a US$4,000 dwelling part-built using local, easily-obtained materials, including Palm leaf thatching and bamboo.

The interior of the S House is very basic and measures just 30 sq m (322 sq ft), with one large interior space. The building is prefabricated and can be disassembled into multiple small pieces for easy transport by local builders. Vo Trong Nghia Architects is still working on the design of the S House but the eventual plan is to mass market it.

Fall House

San Francisco’s Fougeron Architecture recently designed and built a particularly beautiful luxury house that’s guaranteed to make the neighbors see green. Located on California’s Big Sur coastline, the Fall House sports a copper facade that will weather and patina over time, as it comes into contact with the sea air. The copper is also designed to offer a degree of fire-protection.

In addition to its enviable looks and views, the two-story Fall House features energy-efficient windows and its open design naturally encourages stack ventilation, automatically opening windows help reduce the need for air-conditioning. A graywater recycling system is also installed.

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