From not cutting down surrounding trees for a more shaded home that’s naturally cooler to incorporating the use of passive solar sunrooms, here are some eco-home designs that can jumpstart your next remodeling project or the design of a new home.

Not only can they make your house more efficient, but the addition of these design ideas can help to improve your growing set-up too.

Use the Landscape

Rather than clear-cutting the surrounding area where a new home is going to be built, keep trees in place as much as possible. Providing the right amount of cooling to all the right areas could be as simple as tweaking the placement of the home.

For instance, situating the home so the deck—one area that can always benefit from additional shade—takes advantage of the trees left standing. Plus, leaving existing trees makes it possible to enjoy that shade now rather than in the many years it would take a young tree to grow to that height.

In addition, landscaping can help to create windbreaks around a new or older house. It can also act to naturally cool the home as well as keep it insulated in the winter.

For instance, a home located in a hot and arid location can benefit from shade vegetation all the way around it, whereas a home in a cool climate should avoiding landscaping on the south side as this may block the sun from reaching it.

Passive Solar Sunrooms

A passive solar sunroom is another popular eco-design that takes advantage of the environment to warm a home in a more energy-efficient manner. Many sunrooms are built as add-ons, but designing one into a new home plan means it can provide more than just a sunny room.

New eco-designed homes are starting to incorporate a sunroom that’s more centrally located on the southern side, as this allows it to provide heat and light for the rest of the home. Typically, this design has both vertical and angled glass to attract and amplify the sunlight into the home. In addition, shutters are placed on the inside of the sunroom.

In the warmer months, the shutters can be positioned to block the sun to help cool the home while in the cooler months, they can be wide open during the day to bring in the sunlight and heat but closed at night.

In addition, the sunroom often has doors that can be kept open or closed to aid in keeping the home cool or warm. French doors are a lovely touch that allows more light in while keeping the sunroom separate from the rest of the home.

Adding Thermal Mass

Creating thermal mass is another way to intensify the heat supplied from the sun, thus ramping up the benefits of a sunroom. One way to do this is to have the flooring made of concrete or tiles.

Storing water storage for your plants or hydroponic set-up is another option for adding thermal mass to your sunroom.

Finally, a natural rock or stone design in the sunroom makes for an interesting centerpiece as well as another way to add more thermal mass.

Home Size and Function

Another consideration that typically goes into an eco-home design is the size of the house and the way that the rooms are used. A modestly sized home is often going to be more efficient than a much larger home. It requires less land to be disturbed, fewer materials, and doesn’t need as much energy when it comes to heating and cooling.

One of the best ways to achieve a smaller home that still provides all the best creature comforts is to create rooms that serve multiple purposes. This allows you to get full use out of your home while reducing the amount of needed space.

Reclaimed Materials

Another very popular part of the eco-home design is the utilization of reclaimed materials. Not only are distressed and old materials on trend, but they provide eco-friendly options for home building and remodeling.

Using reclaimed material keeps items from going to fill up a landfill and new materials from being used. However, as older doors and other materials may not fit modern openings, try to plan ahead as much as possible instead of trying to jam them in at last minute.

As a gardener or grower, you’re always looking for ways to be greener, and eco-home design is the perfect option. Imagine how your passive solar sunroom would look teeming with potted greenery or a hydroponic set-up. Your plants will love it and you’ll love living in a home that’s more eco-friendly.