10 Historic Green Homes

Monticello: Charlottesville, VA, USA

Thomas Jefferson can truly be considered one of history's most notable Renaissance men. Monticello, his estate on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, reflects the man who built it. The historic home has a number of features that would be common additions in many modern green homes.

The most apparent green features of Monticello have to do with light. The mansion's first-floor rooms feature skylights that channel light through from the upper story. Ample glass doors throughout the home reflect a combination of Roman and French architectural influences, but also serve to help keep the house temperate and well lit throughout the seasons [source: Monticello]. In essence, Jefferson designed a passive-solar heat and light system long before the term came into use.

Small details of the estate, though not traditionally green, also speak to the environmental awareness that went into Monticello's design. A weather vane atop the front porch can be read in any weather, thanks to a remote dial. A clock in the main hall uses gravitational pull to track the hours and days in a manner that anyone can read [source: Monticello]. One can argue that modern green homes that connect the occupants to the natural world owe at least some of their inspiration to Jefferson's clever estate.

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