This article was originally published on Christie’s International Real Estate’s lifestyle blog, Luxury Defined.

In honor of Earth Day, we discover that for the world’s most innovative designers and architects, green is the new black

A home can be luxurious, historic, glamorous, commodious, even fun. But can it also be sustainably designed and eco-friendly green? It can be all of these things, according to some of today’s most innovative designers and builders. Earth-conscious does not have to mean “doing without.” Quite the contrary: chic, even dazzlingly beautiful homes around the world are now sporting green roofs, drawing power from geothermal energy, and making use of solar panels year round. The technology we currently deem “eco-friendly” will probably be de rigueur in coming years. Many companies that were founded decades or even a century ago to produce glass, ceramics, chemicals, and electronics are now riding the wave of green design. Ahead of Earth Day 2019, we spotlight a collection of properties from trailblazing innovators who are making sustainable design the ultimate deluxe amenity.

1. Sustainable and Locally Sourced Materials

This eco-friendly practice is actually not at all new: before international shipping became commonplace, “locally sourced” was simply the method all builders used to construct houses as they chose from stone, wood, thatch, or local clay, depending on which resources were abundant in a particular region. To reduce the carbon footprint of today’s construction practices, architects and contractors are seeking local solutions to new design challenges.

 ItalyLocalMaterials 2
Set within an Italian resort, Villa Sea View was built with traditional materials that lend it an air of authenticity.

2. LED Lighting

Electricity drastically transformed the nighttime look and feel of interiors by replacing the soft flicker of candlelight and gas lamps with the bright, on-demand illumination of incandescent bulbs. Lighting is experiencing a radical change once again thanks to advances in LED technology. LED bulbs are vastly more energy efficient than the filament bulbs of the 20th century, which means the carbon footprint of a home can be greatly reduced without switching off the lights. The Dutch multinational corporation Philips, founded in 1891 and now a global leader in LED lighting, even produces LED-powered luminous textiles called Kvadrat Soft Cells that can add an atmospheric glow to any interior without the need for a single fixture.

 NYC The Visionaire
The Visionaire achieved its Platinum LEED certification by incorporating both the latest conservation and environmental technologies to provide a clean and healthy living environment. Green features include humidity controlled indoor air, filtered drinking water, LED lighting, HEPA air filters, solar energy and geothermal.

3. LEED Certification

In the industry, LEED certification has become a byword for eco-friendly construction practices. LEED(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building certification program from the U.S. Green Building Council that recognizes a project’s efficiency standards. More than 150,000 homes around the world are LEED-certified, a number that more than doubled between 2011 and 2013 according to a report by the Council.

 1285SanctuaryLane 2
The Sanctuary is a spectacular mountaintop retreat just west of Kalispell. Situated on a grassy bench with a dramatic cliff backdrop and valley views, the 5,569-square-foot main home is finished with luxurious detail, and is one of the few LEED-Certified residences in Northwest Montana, providing unparalleled energy efficiency.

4. New Habitats for Sea Life

One of the most exciting trends in Eco-friendly building isn’t happening on land, but on the ocean, where innovative new projects are creating stable habitats human beings and for the sea life below. Coral, fish, anemones, and all manner of microscopic creatures can carve out a home using the base of each island, as though it were a natural rock formation.

5. Vegetable Gardens and Orchards

The fun and relaxation of tending a garden is a proven way to clear the mind and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. And there’s an added benefit: vegetable gardens are as good for the planet as they are for the gardener. With increasing interest in organic produce, home vegetable gardens have become a feature of luxury estates, where a scaled-down version of the “farm-to-table” concept can be brought right into the kitchen. Gardening promotes the cycle of growth and decomposition that maintains healthy soil, and growing plants produce oxygen—as well as the ingredients for a farm-fresh salad. With enough space, an avid gardener can tend a grove of citrus or apple trees or even produce wine from a small vineyard. Like vegetable gardens, orchards surround a home with fresh air and greenery, offer natural shade, and perfume the air with the subtle fragrances of fruit and flowers.

 Del Dios Ranch
Del Dios embraces 40 acres of producing Valencia orange groves and includes a lake, tennis court, and equestrian facilities.

6. Green Roofs and Walls

The earliest “green roof” may have been the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, but it was not until the early 1970s in Germany that technology caught up with aesthetics and green roofs became a viable design option. Today, green roofs are so practical and effective that mainstream, design-focused authorities like HGTV are offering primers on how to install your own. Luxury homes have incorporated green roofs and balconies for a mix of efficient, natural cooling and landscaped, aesthetic beauty.

7. Solar Panels

Using the inexhaustible energy of the sun, solar rooftop panels provide a lightweight, inexpensive way to boost the “passive” energy of a home, storing power for future use without the need for any wasteful processes. Solar panels can be attractive, too. Sweden’s SolTech Energy produces beautiful glass roof tiles that allow builders to create energy-efficient, solar-powered homes that draw design inspiration from a classic architectural style. Solar power is among the most exciting innovations in green design.

 Hawaii Solar Panels
This private two-acre estate in Makena features 116 PV solar panels, for a renewable lifestyle.

8. AMX Technology

Today’s eco-friendly houses aren’t just sustainable, they’re smart. In-wall touch screens from AMX that control a home’s light, heat, irrigation, sound, and more are perfect for those who split their time among several residences, allowing homeowners to program such features remotely so energy is not wasted when a home is empty.

 Cayman Islands AMX
This sensational harborfront compound, situated on a private promontory on Grand Cayman Island, offers an impressive 25,000 square feet of luxury living spaces innovatively designed with every conceivable amenity: from the AMX sound system to the waterfront amphitheater, and the largest residential swimming pool on the island, complete with swim-up bar.

9. Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Like solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling elegantly harnesses the forces of nature to provide optimal indoor conditions at any time of year. This technology allows homeowners to make the most luxurious home’s environmental footprint relatively small, even as its design makes a big aesthetic impact.

Geothermal Home Netherlands
This beautiful and unique villa is situated in one of the most beautiful locations of Oisterwijk or perhaps even of Brabant, and is equipped with all modern techniques such as home automation and a geothermal installation.

10. Private Eco Preserves

Green homes can incorporate more than eco-friendly construction and cutting-edge technology. For those searching for adventure as well as an environmentally conscious lifestyle, combined with all the comforts of home, a property located in a private eco preserve provides the perfect balance.

 Costa Rica Eco Preserves
Bordering a rainforest reserve on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, this eco retreat is perched above the jungle canopy with views of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The main villa, two casitas, and swim-up bar were designed with sustainable materials and traditional thatched roofs in harmony with the lush tropical landscape.

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