Earth Day marks its 50th year on Wednesday, April 22, and the world’s largest civic event is going digital for the first time in its history. With the 2020 theme being Climate Action, digital events and activities will take place across the globe, allowing people to take action from the safety of home. 

In honor of Earth Day, we’re looking at how sustainable, ecologically conscious home design continues to advance, as more homebuilders and designers strive to implement environmentally friendly materials, technologies and building practices. Forbes, Fast Company and more named sustainability among the major design trends of 2020, while Architectural Digest touted experts saying sustainability is going from trend to consumer expectation. 

The Agency’s real estate agents are seeing new constructions, remodels and restorations across the continent employ the latest sustainable technologies and materials. These features make homes much more attractive to potential buyers looking for ethical purchases that help them both support environmental initiatives and reduce the cost of living. 

Managing Partner of The Agency Sherman Oaks and Calabasas Craig Knizek represents the remodeled Spanish estate 14547 Valley Vista in Sherman Oaks, along with Kevin Nguyen and Shylee Halimi. Originally built in 1928, the home has been given a modern refresh, featuring an array of sustainable features, including denim insulation, naturally oiled hardwood floors, tankless water heaters, high-efficiency appliances, low-water landscaping and rain collection tanks. 

“Restoring homes is much greener than tearing them down and rebuilding from scratch,” Craig notes. “You are repurposing massive amounts of material that would otherwise go to a landfill. Purchasing items from architectural salvage shops across the country is a way of preserving the craftsmanship of generations past.” 14547 Valley Vista features a front door from the early 1900s, arched windows from a mansion in Malibu, sconces and chandeliers gathered from far and wide, which were restored to their full glory—all special touches that bring the soul back into a renovated home. Watch the designers walk you through the renovation and sustainable features here. 

Known as The Sten Frenke Estate, 126 Mabery Road in Santa Monica was designed in 1934 by the famed Richard Neutra and is a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark. Represented by Billy Rose, the property has benefited from two recent restorations, preserving the continuous ribbons of glass that capture sublime natural light. The property’s energy needs are supplied, in part, by the on-site geothermal generators. 

“Hopefully, we are all now more aware that we need to address climate change, and we all need to start taking action before it's too late,” Billy says. “With so many different ways in which we can participate, it's unconscionable not to be doing so.”

The sustainably built 912 Fall Harvest Court in the Deer Ridge neighborhood of Kitchener, Ontario is Energy Star certified, featuring high-efficiency mechanicals, triple-paned windows, air/weather barrier, engineered wood components and LED lighting. Newly built by Grason Homes and represented by Steve Bailey and Isabel Pinheiro, the nearly 4,000-square-foot residence counts the sustainable features among its modern amenities which include, an Arriscraft stone exterior and irrigation system with WIFI weather check.     

“Why not save money every month on your utility costs while reducing your carbon footprint and doing your part to help the environment,” says Jim Velacich, President of Grason Homes. “It seems like a no brainer, especially when Energy Star houses don’t cost you any extra money to purchase.”

In Paradise Valley, Arizona, 5429 E. Caron Street is an authentic, adobe-style residence designed by architect Clint Miller. Represented by Adrian Heyman, the home features 18” thick adobe walls, which are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Far outlasting wood-framed buildings, adobe is an energy-efficient choice for desert homes, because of the high thermal conductivity. Adobe remains at the top of the list for people seeking green, sustainable or low carbon footprint homes. 

Villa Vista del Sur, a contemporary home within the gates of Puerto Los Cabos, Mexico, was envisioned to be energy efficient, featuring a 14-panel solar system and an on-demand, tankless hot water system. The property is represented by Janet Jensen, Mauricio Rivero and Gaby Digiuseppe, who say buyers should seek a home with sustainable features that reduce their carbon footprint and maximize Cabo’s year-round sunshine. The sun powers the cells in the solar panels, as opposed to the coal that powers Baja’s electrical plants.