5 Sustainable Ideas that Made This Year’s Iconic Home the Greenest One Yet

Angela R. James
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Thanks to its dream team list of participating designers, The Iconic Home—presented by Architectural Digest and the Black Interior Designers Network in partnership with method®—is a true showcase of the best in contemporary living. In 2021, sustainability is a non-negotiable part of the conversation, which is one reason why it was a focus of this year’s project.

And what better place for a sustainable family home than New York’s Hudson River Valley? “In the past 15 years alone, there have been several projects, firms, and policies in the Hudson Valley at the forefront of sustainability,” says architect Elizabeth Graziolo, who points out that the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck was one of the first Living Building Challenge-certified projects, and that a number of sustainable design and construction firms have emerged in the area.

Below, AD PRO details five aspects of sustainable design on view at the virtual show house, which was rendered by The Boundary, and features product innovations from Arhaus, Beautyrest, Crate & Kids, Garage Living®, Heat & Glo, Kohler, and Rémy Martin.

The primary bedroom designed by Joan Goodwin of Verandah Interiors. The Beautyrest mattress incorporates marine plastic, and it is a part of the brand’s Seaqual initiative.

Rendered by The Boundary

Smarter Materials

From the moment of harvest, construction materials can have a long and emissions-heavy lifecycle. Transportation, processing, manufacturing, and installation all contribute to a project’s carbon footprint—so it makes sense that one of the most efficient ways to minimize a building’s carbon load is to take a critical look at materials.

The Iconic Home was no exception. To minimize the home’s environmental impact, The Iconic Home’s architect and designers embraced savvy material strategies, ranging from cutting-edge innovations to age-old standbys.

Cement, a main ingredient in concrete, makes up 7% of annual carbon emissions, prompting some architects to look into the possibilities of low- and no-cement alternatives for structures. Some incorporate fly ash (a by-product of coal power), while others make use of crushed, recycled materials like glass. For The Iconic Home, architect Graziolo incorporated low-cement concrete into a wall in the house.

Material innovations don’t end with the architecture, however—products have a role to play too. Consider, for instance, the mattress Joan Goodwin specified for the primary bedroom: Produced by Beautyrest as a part of its initiative with Seaqual, the mattress incorporates upcycled marine plastic.

The Great Room, designed by Danielle Colding.

Rendered by The Boundary

Maximum Natural Light

Abundant natural light can mean a big win in energy savings and in the occupants’ well-being, as exposure to natural light can help regulate circadian rhythms and contribute to general feelings of happiness. Early on, architect Graziolo knew that daylighting would be an essential part of The Iconic Home’s sustainable strategy. “We designed a house with the longest façade on the northern and southern exposures, and carefully shaped the roof geometry,” she says, adding that “these details allow us to maximize quality daylight, minimize glare, and enable natural ventilation.” In the kitchen, Arianne Bellizaire also celebrated natural light, adding a skylight to the space.

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