HGTV Green Home 2012: How to Design Green

Architect Steve Kemp explains his approach to green home design and shares principles that form the foundation of his eco-friendly floor plan.


How can design be green or, for that matter, not green? Eco-friendly building materials, green building practices and energy-efficient home systems matter. But a thoughtful approach to a home’s basic design can go a long way toward LEED certification.

Focus on Regionally Specific Architecture

A home style rooted in history and connected to location and community results in a timeless, sustainable design. By caving to trends, one runs the risk of designing and building a home that will require extensive renovation or remodels in 10 or less years. “Alot of modern architecture I think is beautiful, but if it loses its context and sense of place, then it’s a beautiful piece of sculpture, it’s not part of a community,” says architect Steve Kemp.

Build Small, Live Large

Kemp Hall Studio designed the 2,300-square-foot HGTV Green Home 2012 to look, feel and live like a 4,000-square-foot home. Outdoor rooms, though unconditioned, are weighted as heavily in the home’s design as conditioned spaces. “Our premise always starts with blurring the line between inside and out,” says Steve. “We want to make these exterior walls at certain strategic places disappear. And that’s through the use of glass and the connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.”

Work With Nature

Rather than carving out a back yard and building a 20-foot retaining wall to hold back runoff, the design team responded to the sloped site by placing the “yard” in the center of the home. The plus for the environment: No dirt is removed from or added to the site. The plus for the homeowner: Rooms wrap around and enjoy views of the central courtyard.

Be Flexible

HGTV Green Home 2012 is designed to accommodate a young couple, a growing family or even an empty-nester couple hosting grown kids on weekends and holidays. With limited square footage, emphasis is placed on flexibility. Function of rooms can change as circumstances change or kids grow. Space has been set aside for future growth.

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