The idea of eschewing electricity, running water, and the white picket fence is a terrifying prospect for the average American. Based on the number of modern off-grid homes in remote locations that rely on the sun and wind for energy, others clearly disagree. Earlier this week, we were charmed by an efficient, beautiful home located in the middle of a cornfield. We feature it past the break, along with other sustainable houses far from the rat race. These stunning, alternative abodes make a strong argument for unplugging and creating a green oasis away from it all.
This modern, eco-friendly Canadian home in rural Ontario sits in the middle of a cornfield. The asymmetrical, steel construction — which mimics the surrounding barns and outdoor buildings — boasts an incredible extended porch with a stunning view. There are no children of the corn lurking near this efficient and simple abode.
Sod roofs are commonly found in rural parts of Scandinavia — a design that has been around for centuries. They help stabilize the home and provide wonderful insulation. If cared for properly, they can last a long time. Some homeowners even grow flowers and trees on their roofs. This Norwegian home near a lake has a gorgeous array of grasses sprouting from its roof.
The rustic Soleta zeroEnergy’s modular design (made from 97% recycled materials) offers a range of green options, but if you’re not ready to totally rough it, modern amenities are available. A geothermal water heating system, wind and solar power, water collection system, and LED lighting are just a few of the features that keep sustainability in mind.
This off-grid beauty located in rocky Colorado is partially constructed from shipping containers, but manages to blend nicely into the surroundings. The containers flank the sides of the main structure and house the bedrooms, kitchen, and office spaces. The home is partially solar-powered and built to maximize cooling and heating.
Richard Carbonnier’s tubular, arctic cabin on Baffin Island in Nunavut, Canada was designed to be less intrusive on the land. The joined culvert structure can withstand high winds, and the pod-like foundation shifts when the permafrost does. Heat is better circulated inside Carbonnier’s soup can-style home (made from partially recycled materials). Solar panels, water recycling systems, wind turbines, and low-energy appliances give it that extra something.
“The Fab Lab House uses the resources of its environment — sun, water, and wind — to create a microclimate that passively optimizes the basic conditions of habitability.” That means the solar-powered, wooden home can be built anywhere you like.
The Stamp House tucked in the rainforest of North Queensland, Australia is a star. The six-pointed design juts out over the beachfront and is accessed by a walking bridge. Several areas of the disaster-proof home were left open to the environment, but the owners never have to worry about flooding or cyclone damage. The Stamp House has been designated as an official shelter by the National Parks and local agencies. A solar-powered roof and rainwater catchment system are some of the environmentally friendly design features.
Bellomo Architects’ House Arc is a 150-square-foot and 3,000-pound tough cookie. Those seeking compact, off-grid adventures should flock to the adorable modular construction, which is lightweight, but designed to withstand tropical storms. Bellomo Architects built it with disaster relief organizations in mind (it can be shipped in a box to those in need), but it’s perfect for anyone looking for a lifestyle change. House Arc is resilient, and the curvaceous, retro style — with large windows and eco goodies — makes it lovely to look at.
We bring you not one home in the middle of nowhere with the word zero in it, but two. Meet ZeroHouse. If you’ve dreamed of remote living, but don’t want to put up with pesky hurricanes and flooding, fear not. The 650-square-foot home can survive 140-mph winds, and the helical-anchor foundation system means you’re safe in water up to 10-feet deep. Solar power is stored in an onboard bank, so the home can sustain itself for a week without sunlight. Bring on the apocalypse! ZeroHouse also “hibernates” to conserve energy, has a water catchment system, and handles the homeowner’s needs like a rock star — a very eco-minded rock star.
Right now the JF-Kit House by Elii Architecture is an off-grid concept rather than a completed design, but it features some wacky and exciting green options. There’s an energy-producing dance floor (!!!), a hand-cranked email station, a greenhouse that is watered by the sheer power of your thighs (ok, by doing squats), and a hand-cranked kitchen. The firm calls these features “domestic fitness furniture.” The JF-Kit house puts you to work and is probably laughing at you while you pantomime a hamster in its wheel, but at least your ass will look amazing.
If you’ve watched Into the Wild and you’re afraid that living off the grid will slowly kill you (because grizzlies and poisonous plants), then an off-grid community is a viable alternative. The Earthship community in the deserts of New Mexico might be an alien cult, but who cares — look at these amazing, sustainable homes. They’re built entirely from recycled and natural materials. Architect Michael Reynolds has built the “independent vessels” across the globe. You can even grow fresh produce via indoor veggie beds.
“Smart as it is efficient, suitable for a family of four and a pet to live off the grid in comfort and contemporary style. It travels by train, truck, ship, airplane or helicopter, folded up and indistinguishable from any ordinary shipping container. Once it arrives, it unfolds rapidly to 480-square-feet of self-contained, sophisticated living space with all the comforts of home.”
This woodsy cabin in Sullivan County, New York is an elegant, but eco-conscious getaway. Made from 100-year-old reclaimed barn wood, stone, and other natural materials, the off-grid bungalow has no water or electricity. The homeowners bathe in the nearby brook and use an outhouse with a composting toilet. The surrounding view is breathtaking.
Modern, minimalist design, and extreme eco-awareness (wind turbine, geothermal heat pump, radiant floor heating system, photovoltaics, and more).
Constructed with minimal impact to the existing trees, this Canadian tree house along Lake Muskoka features a swing and glowing, slatted design making it a playful woodland escape.