While an increasing number of Americans invest in electric cars and green gadgets in an effort to reduce their carbon footprints, many are unaware that the buildings and homes in which they live and work account for nearly 40% of national CO2 emissions. To tackle this building challenge, architects and developers the world over are stepping into the fray with innovative, environmentally conscious designs.

Santa Monica-based LivingHomes, a designer and developer of high concept, prefabricated homes, is one such company utilizing pioneering construction methods to build dwellings that are as healthy for the people they shelter as the lands they inhabit.

Founded by Steve Glenn, an entrepreneur who spent his childhood poring over Lego sets and books on Frank Lloyd Wright, LivingHomes combine non-toxic, sustainable building materials with a resource-saving modular fabrication process. The result? Homes that leave a smaller ecological footprint than their traditional counterparts and generate a lot less waste. According to LivingHomes, 30-40% of the material used to construct a traditional home ends up in landfills compared to an average of just 2-8% for prefab.

If sustainability alone fails to impress, the speediness of construction is sure to wow anyone. Get this: the first LivingHome, designed by renowned architect Ray Kappe, was installed in just eight hours. Compare that to the months—and sometimes years—it takes to build a traditional home and a buyer’s saving time and energy in more ways than one. This home was also the first in the nation to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Platinum Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, the highest rating possible.

In addition to using third-party rating systems like USGBC’s LEED and the EPA’s Energy Star program, which measure performance, LivingHomes developed its own environmental standard: Z6, which stands for Zero Energy, Zero Water, Zero Emissions, Zero Carbon, Zero Waste and Zero Ignorance. From incorporating sensors that monitor electricity and hot water use so owners can keep tabs on their consumption (and, hopefully, learn to make do with less) to installing rain reclamation systems that collect water in 3500-gallon cisterns for later use, LivingHomes offer a greener alternative for a new generation of eco-conscious home buyers. To learn more, visit their website.