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World's Greenest Homes -

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(generated from captions) in the Hollywood Hills, Coming up on World's Greenest Homes - a chemical free zone. a couple who want their home to be None whatsoever? We don't use chemicals anywhere. None whatsoever. And 7,000 miles away,

a solar powered house in Australia, does the landscaping. where the wildlife and by wallabies. I get visited by kangaroos underneath here. They'll come right up a home that uses air conditioning, In Texas, to heat the pool. into the swimming pool, The air conditioner dumps heat has to work less therefore the air conditioner and you get free pool heat. deep in an English forest, And across the Atlantic bio-degradable home. it's the ultimate that the trees are still here, I like the natural feeling growing out of the floor. I'm Emmanuel Beliveau. World's Greenest Homes Come with me on

homes on the planet. and see the most extraordinary

cool and green. Homes that are gorgeous, THEME MUSIC Hollywood, California. in the world. One of the most glamorous cities

the "H" of the Hollywood sign. Our first home was built right under Los Angeles, California, second largest city on the US. founded in the 1780s, it's now the This is vintage Hollywood. next door. Humphrey Bogart used to live And in a house just up the street, A Brave New World. Aldous Huxley wrote, for its green architecture. But this house is famous to great lengths The home owners have gone yet as chemical free as possible. to make sure the house is stylish, Built into the Hollywood Hills, personal testing ground this home has become their own eco-friendly materials. for some of the latest Meet James and Nancy Tudor. James is an architect green since way before it was cool. and has been designing and building To get to the house, over a water garden. you have to cross a glass bridge there's a media room. On the first floor, On the second level, a two-storey living room and kitchen. Up another flight of stairs,

is the master suite.

Welcome to the Tudor Green home. James, how are you? You too. Good, nice to see you Emmanuel. It's a pleasure to have you here. Nancy, how are you? for having me, it's fantastic. Well, thank you so much outside, it's beautiful. I love that water feature you have right away. You forget about all that LA traffic The lobby is two storeys high. in from the top of the house. And allows natural light to filter lighting feature. And there's an unusual and compact fluorescents, It's actually raw silk designed by an artist in Israel. in over three years. We haven't changed those light-bulbs Just inside the front door, is the media room. Yeah, media. Oh, it's very nice.

I love it. It's very organic in here. And we're underground here, right? Yeah, this is actually underground. You can still see outdoors, where the bridge was, the entrance. even though it's underground, Every room still, nature coming into the house. still has ambiance of the outside, underground. The rest is all concrete against the hole in the hill back? So, this is all concrete formed up coming through here. And you get plenty of light Yeah. Plenty of light coming through here. And it stays cool, you know.

are those, um...Dorothy's? Those ruby shoes, No, they're not Dorothy's, and they were a gift to our daughter but they're one of seven a little later. and I think we'll talk about that

Yep, those were a gift to Collette, Oh. cancer treatment. when she was going through And, ah, they're very special

to remind us of how special she was. and obviously they're here In our home and in our heart. They're great. Oh, they're great, they're wonderful. What's on the walls here? attempting to find materials Well, we were obviously example is right behind you here, that don't off-gas and one good which is a very lovely grass cloth tell you, is citrus based, right? and even the finish, Jim will Right. of citrus in there. Yeah, I can smell a bit contain pesticide residues, Most paints your children, or your pets. are they're not healthy for you, leaves. Have you not swept today? And the floor's great. You have We thought we'd bring nature inside. We really had fun with this. in the neighbourhood. We found all the leaves house across the street. One leaf came from Humphrey Bogart's (ALL LAUGH) Did you get his permission first? Celebrity leaf prints. in Hollywood, right? You can't resist if you live Let's do it. I want to see the rest of the house.

Get this space! It's gorgeous! I love the height in here, Nancy. an inspirational room. Well, this is truly there is a 2-storey living space On the second floor, with huge trapezoid windows. The frames are recycled steel. it is all the time You have a sense of what time of day across the sky, because, as the sun moves it fills each room. different times of the day

Custom-made windows. And these are all custom windows? They're all double-paned, the glass, to the thermal balance. so that really adds of a little girl. Above us is a painting for clean, green design James' and Nancy's passion isn't just accidental. of our daughter, Collette. Well, that's a portrait

OK. at age five. And we lost her to cancer Collette's illness James and Nancy believe may have been environmentally linked. to design this home? How has she inspired you focused my work as an architect It was a journey and we've really about the healthy aspect and energy efficiency. as much as the sustainable have no off-gassing, And in this house, like, the paints

and also the materials are such like this all-steel frame - of the most recyclable materials. it's recyclable, steel's one You don't have any wood in the house exposed so that there's very few termites. We don't have to use fumigation chemicals and things. What material did you choose for your fireplace? This is volcanic stone - comes from Brazil.

That's the natural texture. Is it a hone finish on that? Actually, no. It comes that way and if they polish it it'd be all black.

Across the room, something else has caught my eye. Beautiful cabinet you have there. This is a wonderful cabinet. This is called krea wood, it's like sorghum, it's like a reed, grows in the swamp, and they put it into panels like this. Press it together. You can make all kinds of cabinetry and things. Your place is like a treasure hunt, there's so many cool things to see. What else is there to see? You should go to the kitchen. That's her domain. Manny, they say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. OK. Do you agree? I agree. Come with me. Feed me! We've seen the 2-storey living space - now it's onto the kitchen. Wow. Welcome to the heart of our home. What a great view from here too. Yeah. Isn't it wonderful? And there are some eye-catching colours in here.

The counter tops are enamel glaze on lava stone.

Cabinets are made from cherrywood and are formaldehyde-free. These cherry veneer storage cabinets are a clever way to hide all sorts of kitchen clutter. Is it difficult to keep a house chemical free? Believe it or not, the space is very easy to maintain in terms of cleanliness and the most important thing is that we do not use chemicals in the house - we don't use chemicals anywhere. None whatsoever? None whatsoever. So Nancy uses natural substances like baking soda and apple-cider vinegar to keep the home sparkling clean. Over here is Nancy's favourite part of the kitchen, this ingenious sink. What's really nice about this design here is that as you're having a dinner party and your guests are engaged and you're getting up to take plates you kind of put them in here and again another wonderful hideaway feature. And there's no need for a garbage disposal unit. When I'm done with my food scraps and those kinds of things, I put it right here in our composting bin.

Every in there is creating a wonderful humus which will then supply hopefully our organic garden with the things that it needs. Though they don't have a big garden, Nancy is still able to grow most of the organic fruits and vegetables they need. So we're going to do a little composting now. Basically we're just putting these scraps, table scraps,

from yesterday and today's lunch. It's going to go into the compost. You'll see sort of a brown liquid that is developing. Do you add anything to that, like any dirt to mix with that? No, basically it's going to find its own way to create microbes and all of this breaks down and creates basically a great topsoil and a mulch-like property for your garden. It's a chemical-free, inexpensive way to fertilise and boost the productivity of your garden. Back inside the house, there's a room I'm dying to see.

This is it. This is THE famous red bathroom. It's been featured in countless magazines all over the world. And this red tile, this is beautiful. This is actually recycled glass put in by hand. Stunning - it's just all red. Now, red might not be your colour for choice in a bathroom but Nancy sure makes a bold colour statement. On the third floor, translucent glass stairs lead to the master suite. Step into our bedroom and meet the master architect again. Oh, wow. This is great! I'm a lucky girl. We sort of wanted this area to be very serene. Zen thing going on here. The colours are all like at twilight time. Very restful. The wall covering behind the bed is another example of all the research that went into building and furnishing James' and Nancy's home. This is actually a tree form - it actually is like wheatgrass impregnated in recycled plastic. It's a great material for cabinetry or decoration. Even the rug is organic. It's a tufted wool from New Zealand. It's great for yoga, for stretching in the morning. Rounding off the top floor are two more rooms. The first is a his'n'her master walk-in closet. Look at this closet, huh? Yeah. This is one of my favourite places, I have to say. Next door is the bathroom. Check out the top-filling tub. When the water overflows, it's reheated and circulated back into the tub. This is kind of where the day begins and certainly where the day ends and it's a nice way to end a day in here. Most beautiful. I love it. But the day's not over yet. This is Hollywood, after all, so Nancy and James are throwing a party.

A toast to one of the world's greenest homes. Thank you. Very nice. APPLAUSE

From LA, we head across the globe to the land down under where our next home owner wanted the perfect environment - that meant a home that was luxurious and sustainable.

As you'll see, what she created comes straight out of the pages of a romance novel. We're in Australia, near Mt. Macedon about 40 minutes north of Melbourne.

Far from the hectic city life of downtown Melbourne, Mt. Macedon is surrounded by vineyards. Some of the best Australian wines come from around here. Our next home is called Taprobane, which means "a little bit of paradise". Not only is it solar-powered, it's been designed to recycle rainwater. Biochemist-turned-romance author Stephanie Laurens lives here with scientist husband Keith, daughter Lauren, and their two feline friends, Shakespeare and Merlot.

My favourite thing would have to be relaxing. Just so peaceful around here. The house is set up as a main pavilion that frames a centre courtyard. There's a library.

An enormous living, dining and kitchen space and a master bedroom and master bathroom, with a lap pool right next door. A hallway from the main pavilion takes you to a home office... ..and onto the guest bedroom wing and laundry room. Hi. Come in. Welcome to Taprobane, my home.

This is my library where I do most of my writing. This space is where I sit for many, many hours every day of the week. Stephanie has published more than 30 romance novels and this room is one of the main reasons they built the house.

It's the perfect space for a writer to get creative. This is my wonderful table which has proved a huge boon.

It's one huge slice through a tree trunk. And it has just the right shape... PHONE RINGS ..for a writer to sit at. This is my fainting couch, according to my editor. She loves it. It's where I sit when I'm just reading over my manuscripts that I'm editing. But if Stephanie needs to fall back on a bit more inspiration

there is another spot in this room to get the creative juices flowing. I quite often actually sit up here and work on my copy edits. I get visited by kangaroos and by wallabies. They'll come right up underneath here. There's no need for gas-guzzling lawn-mowers. Wallabies use their own renewable energy to do all the groundskeeping. The fireplace is a fairly major entity here.

These fireplaces are so efficient you can run them for maybe three, four months full-on, every day, and you don't have to clean them out. In a day, I'd probably put an armful of logs in and you have about that much ash at the end of that. A limestone corridor with solar-powered radiant floor heating takes you to the main living space.

We use this room for entertaining and also for relaxation in general. The windows are both functional and decorative. Yes, they look good. Yes, these pyramid ceilings look very different, but they're actually there for a reason and that's to let in as much natural sunlight as possible. But this house doesn't need air-conditioning because it's so well-insulated.

There's lots of double-glazing filled with argon gas and the glass panes have a special coating. They've got an E coating on them which increases the ability to suck in heat but not lose it through the windows. And here again we have a fireplace. It's a double-sided fireplace, very similar design otherwise to the one in the library. Again, enormously efficient. This staircase is just an amazing design. The stair treads are made of sustainably forested mahogany gum and the staircase leads to a small tower room on the roof. To get both the staircase and the fireplace flue up was going to virtually take up most of that room up there.

And the guy who was designing the fireplace and the staircase

said, "Well, why not put them both together. We can do this." And he's designed it so well that you can still put your hand comfortably on that flue that goes up there - you won't get burned as you walk up the staircase. The double-sided fireplace is shared with a dining space. The table's made from recycled jarrah wood. We've had a number of very nice parties here with big family, extended family, At the far end of the room behind the staircase is the kitchen, home to more smart, green design. I should draw attention to these, which are magnetic induction hotplates. They use very, very little energy. and they are very efficient because they heat the pot, they don't heat the surface, there's nothing that's hot around, except for the pot and what's in it. The kitchen opens onto a central courtyard and herb garden. It's just beautiful to sit out here and we can have a meal and look out over the water feature. The other major thing I do here in the courtyard is that I've got all my herbs here. Very close access to the kitchen so I can just zip out and snip this, snip that. Using a mixture of water features and plants like Stephanie

can go a long way to help keep your garden cool in a hot climate. Water features combined with breezes create a cooling effect caused by evaporation. It can make even the hottest days that bit more comfortable. The larger the water surface the better the cooling.

Plants can also help to cool the air around them and are natural air-filters, absorbing harmful chemicals like ozone.

And then, in the evenings of a warm day, we can open up all the windows

and you have beautiful smells and the tang of roses and various other herbs and so on coming in the house, blowing in the house, along with a cool breeze. Next stop is Stephanie's home office. Now, as a career author, a business office was really important to me

because when we were living in the previous house I had both business and the creative work going on in one room. It was very distracting to be trying to write a book and having messages from your editor or from your agent or something else, or whatever is waiting for you there and it's very hard to put that out of your mind and write.

Most writers find that they're most productive in the mornings, before you let the rest of the world in - deal with all the rest of that stuff in the afternoons. And it was one of the design briefs again for this house, was to separate the two by a decent distance. Along the hallway is the master suite. We'll come down here, our little medieval-like corridor to the master bathroom. And this is the place where romance authors can come and relax at the end of a hard day. We have here a bath which is just divine. Once you have the temperature right before you get in, you just press a button and it will keep the temperature that you started with. It's an effervescence bath, so it just puts out nice little soft bubbles that bubble against your skin. In the shower stall, there's a rainhead faucet which, at the press of a button, doubles as a steam room. The faucets are low-flow and the toilet is dual flush. And it's all recycled rainwater. We're in a country that has water restrictions in absolutely every single capital city at the moment. We don't have water restrictions

because we've elected to make this entire block water-neutral. The way it works is that water is collected off all the roofs. We have nearly 1,000 square meters of roof. It gets drained into great big concrete water tanks, or cisterns. 260,000 litres of water down there when they're full and they're full quite often. And it sits there, they're half buried into the ground, they stay very cool. So then that water is filtered there and pumped up on demand to all the taps in the house and that's our water for everything, for the pool, for the spa, for this bath, for the water feature -

it's all the extra water that we use here. But ultimately all the water that's used in the house goes back out through a worm farm treatment system which then seeps back into the soil, and back into the ground water where it would have originally been if we hadn't collected it. There's actually enough rain that falls from the sky to have that abundance of water if only you catch it efficiently in between. And now moving on, this is the master bedroom. The master bedroom looks out onto the central courtyard. I have to tell you about this bed - it's an Italian import it's one of the few things that we have as an import and it's the perfect bed for an author with a to-be-read pile because these slide right away.

This thing at the end does roll forward it rolls right up if you want.

And the best part about it is that it has a table if you want to sit up there, you can have breakfast in bed. Heavy hardback books can sit up there really nicely and it's just a gorgeous bed. But when Stephanie wants to get away from work, the ultimate indulgence is right next door. And the pool room is a very central part of this house

because it's where I can get most of my exercise particularly in winter when I can't go walking around the property. When they're not in use, the lap pool and the hot tub are covered to keep in the heat and stop evaporation. This is one of the secondary bedrooms, the guest bedrooms. This is probably a good place to show off some of the beautiful woodwork. All the wood in this house, every single piece, has been cut to the specific size required, down to millimetre tolerances. And that helps to keep the house even more insulated. Around a third of heat loss from homes is through poorly fitting window frames.

Across the hallway, there's a guest bathroom. Again, all the faucets are low-flow and the toilet is dual-flush, a must-have under Australian law. This is the laundry room that we've come into, and a lot of people have described it as one of the most amazing laundry rooms in the world. that was actually my idea One of the things neither my husband nor the builder and I have to say that nor the cabinet-maker nor the architect why I wanted this, really understood

two gigantic sinks in there. but it hides away you won't find in here. But there's one thing clothes dryers, We don't actually have dryers, because even in winter, we don't really need them is put up an airing rack here, all you need to do 24 hours and your clothes are dry. put your clothes on it, to use that sort of energy You just don't need and really, there's nothing better than clothes that have been crisp-dried in sun. I think it's more the sort of amazement that the place actually works so well, that the final product - It really came together the way we were hoping it would. Yes and if anything, better. For Stephanie and her family, this home hits just the right balance of work and relaxation And it goes to show, you don't have to sacrifice any creature comforts to have a luxurious, eco-friendly home. MUSIC BEATS are long, hot and humid. Boston, Texas, where the summers It's a city known for its hospitality

of the world. and it's a music capital the most liveable city in America Now some say it's while others claim it's the greenest. exclusive lake-front communities We're headed to one of the most in Austin. Here in Tarrytown, three miles from downtown Austin, a secluded neighbourhood just a playful home for his family. an architect set out to build some serious green credentials. When it was finished, it boasted is a necessity, In a climate where air-conditioning

this 4,200 square foot house is designed to save on energy. Just one of the reasons it's been awarded one of the highest ratings ever in the Austin Green Builder program. Architect Peter Pfeiffer designed the home with his wife, Karen. They live here with Alex, Zachary, Benjamin and Ava and four-legged friends Champ and Splash. On the main floor, the living room, breakfast area and kitchen share a large open space.

Just next door is a screened-in porch. the kids have their own wing, Down the hallway, and a rec room. with three bedrooms with a dressing room and a bathroom. Upstairs is the master suite, a porch overlooks the pool area. Out in the backyard, Hi, Karen Pfeiffer. Hi, Emmanuel. Pleasure meeting you. Nice to meet you. Peter, pleasure. Real pleasure. Peter Pfeiffer. Welcome to our home. Well, thanks. This is great. Come on in. Alright, let's look around. You look at the house on the outside, that it was a green-rated home. you really wouldn't know We wanted to make it look like just a comfortable home that, oh, by the way, is extremely green and extremely energy-efficient and very healthy to live in. What makes this room part of the sustainable picture?

This room, being open to the kitchen,

the breakfast room, the stairs, they all get to feed each other in terms of size and light and stuff so that actually made this large space smaller than if there were four individual spaces. People think you have to have a small house to be green. So, what does that mean? Right. so that we can have a small house? We sell two or three of our kids is this cosy, wood-burning fireplace. The focal point of this living room but often a real energy-waster. Perfect for family gatherings is made out of volcanic pumice. This one's an isokern unit, which It puts out a lot of heat, traditional masonry fireplace would. a lot more so than to the volcanic rock inside? Oh, I see. And that's due on an exterior wall. And the fact that we didn't put it it's giving out into the house Any heat that it gives out, inside of to the outside. the limestone from local quarries Peter and Karen sourced within 25 miles of the house. Well, that's smarter, getting it locally. It was actually a fun little field trip. I'd never been to a quarry before. This is your main dining area? This is where we have our family meals. We've got a dining room, but this is where the real family action occurs. Let's have a look at your kitchen. OK. Yeah, let's go in there. Do you like having such an open kitchen, like this? Yeah, I do. It works well, are just the counter tops. and one of my favourite features for cooking and kids' schoolwork I've got a lot of counter space here we live in the kitchen. and, you know,

local limestone as the fireplace. The counter tops are made of the same are energy star-rated. And as you'd expect, the appliances from recycled antique pine. The floors are made a hardwood floor in the kitchen? Any issues with having it's hard to see, Well, we got underneath there - but there's actually a drain pit and the sink underneath the dishwasher and underneath the refrigerator. in any of the plumbing fixtures If there are any leaks they go down a drain and out to the basement. So there's no risk of water sitting here on the floor too long and warping the wood. Right. So who does most of the cooking? Well, ah, it's not really me. (LAUGHS) Attached to the main living space is the screened-in porch. Oh, it's so aired in here too. It's nice.

Yeah, it's one of our favourite rooms. It is a screened-in porch, to be a living room. but we made it nice enough the use of air-conditioning There's no getting around in Austin's summer heat, to stay cool naturally. but this space is designed to let the air come through, Those screens are just enough

solar heat gain or the winter winds. but not so much that we get the in the wintertime too. So we use this in here? We do. You can spend 12 months a year where the kids could enjoy I wanted to have a porch that didn't require processed air. an environment or heating. You know, air-conditioner of the house. Right, let's see the rest Close the doors so we keep the air-conditioning in. Good idea.

Back across the main living space is the study. So your overhangs here, they stop all direct sunlight from coming into this room? Yeah, they're four-feet deep and that helps so that we get the reflected light off the underside of them,

but without the direct solar gain. But Peter's choice of light fixtures hasn't been so successful. These are the one lights I don't like. (LAUGHS) I don't like them. What? well-appreciated for their coolness. I always thought they were that you disagree on? Anything else in this room the paint colour in this room, Well, actually, this colour that's on the wood trim, so I didn't say anything to him. I thought Peter liked it so he didn't say anything. He thought I liked the colour And once we were in the house neither one of us like this colour. we realised skills - (LAUGHS) It proves what good communication I hope it's gotten better since then. Great communication skills. Yeah, it has. It has. On that note. We should go to the master suite. What a good idea. Let's head upstairs.

I've seen the main floor living space but leaving the study I've discovered something unusual. Some warm air coming through there, what's that about? Because heat rises, this ventilation system pulls the warm air down from the upper level. This keeps the top floor cooler reducing the need for air-conditioning. So doesn't this area, in a sense, kinda get warmer?

than running two machines. Slightly. But it's better No. Is it noticeable? of the study. Only when you go in and out Next door is the main dining space. at a local antique store. The chandelier was found children, if he's not been behaved, When we have to talk with one of the and turn it right here in their face you can sit them right here we can get the truth out of them. and so when they're sitting here of the stone down here. And I love the use It kinda really divides the space. and it gives a little bit of accent. It's a divider Yes. OK. So I guess the bedroom's upstairs? On the way up, there's another of Peter's low-energy ways to stay cool. Directly above the stairwell, a large fan draws fresh air throughout the whole house. The entire upper floor is taken up with the master suite. It's wonderful up here on a Sunday afternoon. The windows are open, you're venting out the house So through those doors? Our bedroom. OK. The rest of the house is very open and big I find it very...very cosy. and in here more neutral, calm colours. We purposefully chose (ALL LAUGH) The three of us sleep up here. And unlike the rest of the house,

on the floor. I notice you've got carpet here We aired it out for two days, It's a natural wool carpet. organic compounds, so if there were any volatile before we brought it in the house. we aired them out

I sorta need to point out One nice thing same lumber to build this bed too. is there you see us using up the custom furniture in here as well Oh, great. So you put some Right and we did this bed-wall. from the wood from the house. Yeah, instead of having a headboard for our bed, he kinda built this built-in headboard with the switches for the lights. Yeah. Yeah, you know, maybe it's the nerd in me coming out, but from here you can control the ceiling fan, the nightlights, the overhead light, even the speakers in the room for the downstairs stereo system,

which we used once. Now are those buttons on both sides of the bed, or just one?

Well, that's an interesting point. (LAUGHS) They're just on his side of the bed. Ah ha. Ah ha. I get to control the night environment, I think. You do, huh? You just lean over and flick a switch and the lights just kinda dim? Right. I'm surprise you - well, you understand. Yeah, I understand. Alright, what's through the door over here? This is our dressing room and our vanity area. OK. Wow. Look at the size of this place. Yeah, it's like a dream come true. We wanted to be able to have a separate dressing area. So you don't have the cluttering that goes on in bedrooms sometimes. Exactly. What's this do? (LAUGHS) Let me show you, why don't you step out of the way? I might have to move for this one, excuse me. This goes up to the attic but there's some interesting stuff in there. I don't know if you want to go up there or if you want me to go up the stairs there to show you. Let Emmanuel pop his head up there. What's the - what's at the top here?

If you look, there's a cover so that the heat

that normally would be building up in the attic or the cold in the wintertime doesn't come down into here.

It's a lightweight styrofoam cover with a seal around it.

You can just undo one of the rubber bands over there. Yeah That's holding it in place. And then slide the thing over and out of your way. Oh I see. So this seals the attic from the rest of the house? Right. If you look up there you'll see you can turn on the light to your - around your shoulder you can see that reflective board which is called Tech Shield It's up here, yeah. It's a radiant barrier.

Yeah. It stops the heat from building up inside the attic. Yeah, it's quite warm itself. But the temperature up here seems like it could possibly be a heck of a lot warmer considering how hot it is outside. Yeah it saves about 40 degrees from being built up. That radiant barrier really keeps the attic much cooler. Wow, that's something else. The reason why that's a vented attic, Manny, is because we have this whole house fan too and in the spring and fall when we're using the whole house fan, we need to open it up. Oh look at that. A big door's opening up up there. Right. So that's the house fan that we saw in the stairwell. Right. Yes. You open it up here so it can work but when you're air conditioning, like now, you don't want to have the air that's in the attic seeping down into the house and that's when we can close it and seal it off. Oh I see. Look at that, so it's just a pulley system on a rope. Right, very simple, maybe a little bit Rube Goldberg, but it works. A very simple mechanical system and - but it works very effectively. It does. It's wonderful. Behind the closet is the master bathroom. This is your his and her vanity? This is our vanity area. Is this your side? This is my side. Guessing by the photo it's your side. That's Karen on our honeymoon. Very nice, very nice. Thank you, thank you. (LAUGHS) That's a beautiful backsplash. Thank you I actually found that backsplash. It reminded me of our honeymoon, we got married and honeymooned in Greece. The windows are another of Peter's ideas to keep the place cool. When we have the windows open and the whole house fan it can pull all the steam out of here, it works great. And what kind of light do you have in here? Fluorescent lighting. You know, a lot of people have this mistaken impression that fluorescent lighting can't be attractive. What I found works really well, is if you blend types of fluorescent lights. Like the lower light, is what we call 3,500K. It's a white light, it reproduces the colour of your skin very well and the upper light is a 2,700K, which is much warmer. That helps balance out the look of the lighting

and the feel of the lighting in here. But probably most importantly, is there's only about 120 wats burning for everything you see here. Very little heat, so you're not heating yourself up as you're trying to work in front of the mirror. Really? It does give a nice effect. Yeah. And you have these spots here as well, in case you need more light? Exactly. Right. Right. It's good for getting ready for parties? (ALL LAUGH) Yeah. And actually, that's because the bathroom and the shower room is a different room then where the vanity is. And that was very purposeful. Yeah, you've separated everything. The changing area over there, you have the vanities here. And through there, looks like it's your... ..It's the shower and toilet room. Let's take a look at them. And this is the shower? Come in.

All of us? And it can fit all of us in here? We can. Very big shower. We didn't want to do window treatment on these windows because it's such a beautiful view. But we did work on this window sill height, so Karen could feel a sense of privacy. Well, this is nice. It's very nice. Lots of nice stone. What kind of stone do you have in here? It's just limestone, local limestone tile. You've got a lot of sprays here, do you use all of these? No. (LAUGHS) It's toys for him. He did it because he could. Back downstairs on the main floor, the kids have a bedroom wing all to themselves.

Oh, hello. Hello. This is the kids' area. Please come in. Well, thank you, thank you. We're going to let Ava show you the bedrooms. OK. You wanna do that? Can I see your room? Sure. Go ahead.

That's a nice room. Thank you. And lucky Ava even has a poolside view. Who else is on this wing? This is my oldest brother Alex's room. Does your brother sleep on a loft? Yeah, he sleeps up there. Have you ever been up there? Yeah.

Is it scary? I've been there a million times. Does he have his own bathroom? No. He shares it with my two other brothers. So this is their bedroom. This is a big room.

You guys have some pretty big bedrooms. Yeah. Heading outside is the family's favourite spot. We're on the porch - we're off the living room that overlooks the pool

so we can keep an eye on the kids and enjoy the view. What's the outside finish? It's HardiPlank siding. But it's a really nifty synthetic trim made out of recycled plastic and woodchips. You've got a bunch of kids and they've got friends - do they ever jump off here into your pool? Ours are so well-behaved that I couldn't imagine - They have tried it and they got into trouble for doing it. But, yeah, it has been attempted before. And successfully. They didn't land - they didn't splat. The pool is one of the home's most ingenious green features and Peter has come up with a smart way of keeping it heated. The air-conditioner dumps its heat into the swimming pool, therefore the air-conditioner has to work less and we get free pool heat. How's the air-conditioning system interact with the pool directly? Is there...? There's a heat exchanger in the basement where the Freon from the air-conditioner

exchanges its heat to the pool water - a simple exchange between the pool and the air-conditioning system.

I see. OK. It's a win-win situation - free pool heat and lower energy bills.

In Austin's dry climate, there isn't much water for landscaping so Peter installed a rainwater collection system. How much does this hold? Almost 3,000 gallons.

It holds enough water to water the lawn for about two weeks.

One of the biggest things I've learnt here is just to not have to use much energy as you think you do. Saving a commodity is always going to be simpler and more cost-effective than producing a commodity. The whole green-building movement is about reducing consumption. Now, being the architect and being the home-owner - is this a novel experience for you going through all this? Yeah. It was a great experience. I'll go out on a limb and say next to having kids together, this is one of the neater things we've done together. Well, thank you so very much for showing me your home. Say bye to the kids and dog for me. I will. Designing an energy-saving home in a hot climate may have been an experiment in green building for Peter and Karen but they've managed to build a family home that fits them just right. Our next home takes us far from the madding crowd, deep into an English forest where one man has built his fairytale home from just about anything he could find. I guess you could say he's gone back to his roots.

This is Prickly Nut Wood in West Sussex, England. Hidden in these woods, is an off-the-grid home that looks like something out of Hansel and Gretel. Yet it's just a half hour train ride from central London. Many people think of houses in the forest as something out of a fairytale and this isn't so different. When you use the natural shapes and form and the natural timber that the forest offers you'll end up with something close to that. But designing and building this green cottage was definitely not child's play for forester Ben Law. Incredibly, it took 10 years of roughing it in trailers and tents before Ben and wife Beverley got planning permission to build their off-the-grid home in the forest. It took six months to complete and they now live here with kids Zed and Tess. I wanted to build a house that sat gently in its environment. To me it's a privilege to be living in a woodland. Inside the house is an open-concept living and dining space with a kitchen right next door. The centre of the living space opens up to the full two stories of the home. The iron staircase leads to the master bedroom.

Back downstairs a hallway off the dining room leads to a couple of kids' bedrooms and the family bathroom. Outside is the market garden where Ben and Beverley grow organic vegetables. Ben put a lot of thought into the layout of the main living space,

and it's no real surprise to learn that he wanted to bring the forest right inside. When you enter here it feels like you're coming into a clearing within the woodland with the trees working their way up to the top of the roof.

I like the natural feeling that the trees are still here, growing out of the floor. In the living room, the fireplace looks like it's growing out of the floor as well. This fire has been designed to be energy-efficient. This clay surround works as a thermal heat source so once the fire has gone out,

this will be warm and project the heat back into the room. Ben and Beverley's kitchen has one feature that's a must-have in every English country home,

a traditional Rayburn stove. 1.5 barrows of wood a day is enough to heat this Rayburn

which actually heats the whole house. The stove also has a boiler that heat's the home's water and radiators. The average English fuel bill is $1,700 a year. For Ben, it's zero. Many timber-frame buildings are quite dark and one of the things I really wanted was to allow the light to pour in, so that's been a reason for leaving this central bay open.

Around the top I've created a mezzanine, using very finely split pieces of chestnut out of the forest and it creates a kind of louvre effect which allows the sunlight to dapple through it. Heading up the reclaimed iron staircase, you'll find the master bedroom. When I reach the top here, I feel like I'm right up in the nest of the house, full of light shining down through the skylight and all the heat from below is coming up and warming this area where I sleep. And Ben didn't have to spend a bundle of cash on decoration. This is the natural colour, the limewash on the ceiling here. And between the ceiling and the shingles outside is recycled newspaper and that's blown in to form a warm, insulated layer. Ben has just finished the last bit of construction, an addition with new bedrooms for the kids. So we've just walked through what was the outside wall and now we're into the extension. Roundwood chestnut frames pegged together, straw bales, and this is the children's room. As they bigger, they'll get a room each. And Ben's branched out a bit on a colour chart since he painted the master bedroom. This is a limewash with yellow ochre in it.

Maybe the most unusual part of the house is behind this door. This is the dry composting toilet. I add a bit of by-product sawdust after each time the toilet's used and that will begin to compost. And a year from now that will be spread around the fruit trees and help improve the apples.

(WHISTLES) From toilet to high-tech, this home is completely off the grid. The design may seem quite traditional and old in the timber frame style but there's a lot of modern technology linked in with it. Solar panels, couple of wind turbines, and they all work off microchips to shut them down when there's too much power. And all that power gets stored onto secondhand submarine batteries. This is the power supply to the house. This is the charge control unit so this controls all the power coming in to the batteries so I've got the solar panels coming in through here, it tells me how many amps are coming in and how much is in the batteries and the turbines coming in as well. Fortunately, the damp British weather has given Ben another cost-cutting opportunity. This house is self-sufficient in water and drinking water is gravity-fed from a spring on the hill and rainwater is harvested off the roof and it comes down this pipe and it's collected in this 1,000-gallon rainwater tank behind me. Using local resources from the forest has made this quite a cheap house to build. In fact a house, locally, in the area

would be about 20 times the cost of this. Compared to the other multimillion-dollar family homes around here Ben's cost just $60,000 to build. But this home is different in more ways than one. When Ben's gone, it'll be taken apart so you'll never know it existed. It's not easy to get permission to build a house in an environment like this and it took me a long time to persuade the planning authority that I needed to be here and the conditions are such that after my life I cannot sell my house onto anyone. So it's not an investment in any way for the future, it's an investment for my life and for the management of this wood. A house that, if it disappeared, would leave very little trace that it had been here. It's hard to believe

that a house that took nearly 10 years to build will one day disappear when Ben and his family leave. In one way, I guess you could say it truly is the ultimate biodegradable home. Closed Captions by CSI .