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10 Environmentally Friendly Architectural Styles

Small or Tiny

Downsizing isn't something desirable in the workforce and often it's something brought on by circumstances and not by choice, but for the eco-conscious, it's often a conscious and deliberate move. Criticism of "McMansions," those super-huge, mostly soul-less and resource-wasteful houses of the suburbs have given way to more and more coverage of small, tiny and even micro-homes. Living in small spaces is a necessity for most city-dwellers in high-density areas like Hong Kong and New York City, but many people are exploring building and buying small in order to live more simply and with fewer drains on resources. Sometimes, though, the environmental benefits are just a result of homeowners wanting to pay less for utilities and shorten their commutes, making downsizing good for the wallet, too.

Economic downturns lead to downsizing as well, and according the U.S. Census Bureau, the size of newly built single-family homes decreased between 51 and 200 square feet (4.7 and 18.5 square meters) from 2008 to 2009, making the national average about 2,400 to 2,500 square feet (223 to 232 square meters) [source: Heavens]. Those weathering the economic downturn in Japan also have turned to even smaller spaces, with closet-sized houses and "ultra-tiny" designs growing in popularity [source: Lah].

Some families, however, make a very deliberate decision to live in smaller spaces to be more eco-friendly and to help other families in the process. The Salwen family from Atlanta, for example, sold their house, bought one half its size and used the remaining money to help those in need in Ghana [source: Salwen]. As one of the principles of being environmentally friendly is to lessen negative impacts on the planet -- including its people -- the Salwens lowered their consumption and improved the conditions of others with the money they saved.