Margarido House -- the first in Northern California to win the LEED-H Platinum rating. Now Portland's at it, with two homes in inner SW earning the top level distinction. They're also smaller and more reasonably priced, making for a green buy indeed.
The Leapfrog houses are the brainchild of Charlie Weiss and Katharine Lawrence, neither of whom are professional architects. The bulk of their experience comes from designing and building a home in 1993 that was "green" before it became a buzzword, incorporating radiant floors, solar hot water, natural materials and efficient appliances. With the help of architect Kathy Kramer and Green Hammer Construction, the homes are now complete and boast near net-zero energy and water use. How? Energy use is minimized through a super-insulated envelope and super-efficient heating system, and the home is powered with solar energy. There's also a 6,000-gallon underground rainwater storage tank that is used for showers as well as flushing toilets. Hot water come from a ground source heat pump. According to Portland Architecture, the house is so air-tight that when it was measured by Earth Advantage, it was the highest ever tested by that organization. Weiss had to have fans installed around the house to discharge air.
Other features include radiant heating; concrete floors made with recycled fly ash; 100% local, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified lumber; Pacific madrone and natural linoleum countertops; Energy Star appliances and windows; drought tolerant and native plants; and a reflective metal roof. You can see all the details here. The 2,600 sq. ft. house will set you back around $600,000, but low maintanence materials and utility bill savings should definitely help replenish your wallet.