From self-replenishing waterfalls in a home in Florida to a Utah mansion that blends right into the mountains, the following list of builders create some of the most luxurious and eco-friendly single-family residences in the United States. Some are multiple award-winning green builders who put environmental sustainability at the heart of their missions. Others are high-quality general contractors whose eco-friendly designs have earned nationwide recognition. Some create traditional homes in urban and suburban areas, while others depgn and build artistic masterpieces made of entirely natural materials and operating 100 percent off the grid.
The following builders span the US, from the south of Florida to the hills of Portland. What they have in common is a focus on sustainable building approaches. For some of these firms, that focus is built into their mission statements. For others, it’s mostly visible in the awards and recognition they have received. For some, it is apparent in the technology and methods that they use to create high-end and luxurious custom homes from scratch.
20) Magleby Estate Homes
Website | 801.785.9994 | 1291 West Center Street, Lindon, UT 84042
Magleby Estate Homes, a Utah-based home builder, has earned multiple Best Custom Luxury Home of the Year Awards, Best in American Living Awards, and National Custom Home Builder of the Year Awards. The firm was founded in 1974 by Paul Magleby, who is committed to higher standards of building. Their homes are multi-level mansions, with unique designs and high-end craftsmanship in cabinetry, doors, and moldings.
Many of the homes strike an artist relationship with the remarkable Utah landscape, with circular stone entryways complementing the sloped mountains, or two- and three-story-high windows mirroring the tall trees in the forests outside. In particular, Magleby has been recognized for their focus on sustainable building approaches and achievements. Over the years, they have earned an NGBS Green Partners of Excellence Award, a National Green Building Standard Award, two Best Green Build Home of the Year Awards through the Utah Builders Association, and an “Ozzie” Partner in Leadership Award for Excellence in Accountability, Leadership, and Culture.
19) Gibson Builders
Website | 202.364.1555 | 4800 Wisconsin Avenue, NW Suite 101, Washington, DC 20016
Gibson Builders was founded in 1981 by Jim Gibson, a graduate of Wesley College, American University, and Georgetown University. Although it is a full-service design-build company, the team specializes in custom homes, renovations, and historic restorations in and around Washington DC. They also focus on green building initiatives, and they collaborate with some of the most knowledgeable experts in green design, construction, and product manufacturing.
Their work has appeared in Home & Design, Veranda, Spaces, and Architectural Digest. They have received multiple MNCBIA (Maryland National Capital Building Industry Association) awards for custom homes 7,000 to 12,000 square feet, and they earned a 2009 Washingtonian Award for Top Remodelers. Their custom homes are located in areas like Potomac, Cleveland Park, Washington DC, Forest Hills, Chevy Chase, Bethesda, and Phillips Park. They are multi-level and spacious homes, often featuring traditional stone exteriors and large glass windows letting in natural light.
18) Don Collins Builder
Website | 919.845.7090 | Raleigh, NC 27614
Don Collins Builder, a design-build luxury home builder headquartered in Raleigh, NC, creates custom homes ranging from $850k to $4M. The company was founded by Don Collins, a Raleigh native with 40 years of experience in the construction industry. Their work has earned four Parade of Homes Awards for multimillion-dollar luxury homes priced as high as $4M.
Green building is at the core of Don Collins’ building principles. The company is affiliated with Energy Star, and their custom homes meet strict guidelines for sustainability: they are equipped with energy-efficient appliances and lighting, low-VOC paint, and water-based wood finishes. To minimize water usage, they install sink faucet and shower aerators, low-flow toilets, and insulated hot water pipes. Outside the home, Don Collins uses drought-resistant landscaping and smart irrigation water delivery systems, like rain collection and stormwater management systems. They are also affiliated with Raleigh Green Builders and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Building.
17) Osprey Custom Homes
Website | 407.523.2323 |3200 S Hiawassee Road, Suite 20, Orlando, FL 32835
For over 50 years, Osprey Custom Homes has been serving some of the wealthiest areas in Central Florida, such as Isleworth, Keene’s Pointe, Reserve at Belmere, and Braemer. Their custom homes are classic mansions, with spacious interiors and multiple floors. They have elegant living rooms, traditional studies and library rooms, and gourmet kitchens. Many feature dramatic bathrooms with marble flooring and freestanding porcelain tubs.
“Living green” lies at the heart of their building methods and craftsmanship. With each build, the team considers everything from energy efficiency, to waste reduction, to improved air quality. When building, they use recycled materials, incorporate water-efficient technologies into their custom homes, and prepare homes to rely on energy-efficient appliances. They even use low-VOC house paint and renewable products, such as bamboo flooring. Their consideration for sustainability extends outside the home and into the land itself; their landscapes utilize low-water plants and energy and water-efficient irrigation systems.
16) R.E.A. Homes
Website | 314.400.2119 | 2401 Centerline Industrial Drive, Maryland Heights, MO 63043
R.E.A Homes, based in the St. Louis, MO, area, has decades of experience creating High Performance Luxury Homes℠ that result in award winning homes that are healthier, more comfortable, and more energy efficient. A fully credentialed LEED Green Associate, R.E.A. Homes is a nationally credentialed leader in sustainable luxury in St. Louis, Missouri. They are affiliated with ENERGY STAR®, RESNET, the US Green Building Council, EPA Indoor Air Plus, and the St. Louis Home Builders Association. Their homes have lower utility bills, superior indoor air quality, and consistent temperatures.
Their remarkable homes can be found throughout upscale areas, such as Ladue, Frontenac, Town & Country, Creve Coeur, and several other locations. Priced anywhere from $750K to $10M+, they feature elements like gourmet kitchens with custom millwork, as well as luxurious master baths with marble, freestanding tubs, and heated tile floors. Some have Irish pubs/full wine cellars, wet bars, and butler’s pantries. Some include two-story high stone fireplaces, dramatic spiral staircases, and barn-style doorways. The exteriors are magnificent, many featuring classic stone or brick.
15) Rufty Homes
Website | 919.460.8550 | 1400 Sunday Drive, Suite 109, Raleigh, NC 27607
Rufty Homes, luxury custom home builder in Raleigh, NC, was founded by Jon Rufty, “a forefather of sustainability in North Carolina,” who earned the nickname “Dean of Green.” Rufty graduated from NC State University. He went on to build the 1994 green HealthyHouse — an eco-friendly and health-conscious custom residence that set the standard for sustainable building in the state — alongside the American Lung Association and the National Association of Home Builder’s (NAHB) Research Center. Rufty Homes was involved in the very first green Energy Star structure in North Carolina. To this day, each Rufty custom home is designed to exist in harmony with nature, not only meeting strict guidelines for green building standards, but also providing scenic courtyards, spacious patios, and windows enabling spectacular views.
Rufty Homes have elegant interiors, spa-like bathrooms, home elevators, large windows, and open-air living spaces that connect the interior to the forested terrain outdoors. Some include dramatic fireplaces, kitchens filled with marble counters and tile backsplash, and master bedrooms complete with sitting rooms, where residents can lounge in privacy among floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking beautiful scenery.
14) Pinnacle Custom Builders
Website | 404.373.2345 | 123 Jefferson Place, Decatur, GA 30030
Pinnacle Custom Builders, a custom home builder in Decatur, GA, strives to meet the highest level of environmentally responsible building standards. The firm is affiliated with EarthCraft, LEED for Homes, and Energy Star Certified Homes. It was founded in 1996 by Robert Soens, who studied at Georgia State University. He served on the executive committee of the Inner Atlanta Chapter of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association and co-chaired the US Green Building Council’s Residential Green Committee.
Of their many awards and accolades, Pinnacle Custom Builders has received an EarthCraft Renovator of the Year Award, a Pacesetter Award recognizing sustainable building, and multiple Chrysalis Awards ranging from Best Green Remodeling Project Under $250k to a 2007 Green Remodel. Their work has been featured in Arquitectura Sustenable, Buildernews Magazine, and Outdoors. One custom home, located in Decatur, is an EarthCraft-certified and LEED Platinum award-winning house. This RainShine home is modern in style, with a butterfly roof that captures rainfall and collects sunlight for solar panels as well as natural lighting throughout the day. The kitchen features concrete counters made from recycled glass, and the home is filled with reclaimed hardwood floors.
13) Ed Nikles Custom Builders
Website | 570.296.9200 | 104 Bennett Avenue, Suite 1A, Milford, PA 18337
For over 30 years, long before most general contractors decided to “go green,” Ed Nikles Custom Builders has been adding green elements to their custom luxury homes. The team is made up of certified green professionals. Edward D. Nikles is the first of only two home builders in the state of Pennsylvania to actually complete the requirements to become a master certified green professional through the NAHB. The team’s lead architect, Hector Baras, is the only LEED AP certified professional in the Pike County area.
The company has nearly 50 years of experience building award-winning, new homes that meet Energy Star and Home Energy Rating guidelines. Of their nearly 20 awards, they earned a 2008 National Custom Home Builder of the Year Award through the NAHB, a 2003 Pennsylvania Builders Association Distinguished Achievement Award for sustained contributions to the housing industry, and a 2005 Propane Exceptional Energy Builder Award. Their green homes are mansions with stone and wood exteriors designed to blend into their natural forest surroundings, and with spacious multi-level decks situated over sweeping views of the landscape.
12) Schell Brothers
Website | 302.226.4216 | 20184 Phillips Street, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
Schell Brothers creates some of the most luxurious custom homes throughout Delaware beachside neighborhoods and Richmond, VA. This company was founded by Chris Schell, who left a career in finance to pursue a field in which he could give customers happiness and a better quality of life. The team prides itself on eco-friendly building, and they strive to use sustainable resources without raising the cost too much for their clients. Their SanctuAIR technology improves the indoor air quality of custom homes, reducing health problems and certain respiratory-related deaths.
Their achievements in air quality have been recognized by the EPA, who selected them from more than 700 builders to receive a 2015 Indoor airPLUS Leader Award. Schell Brothers’ homes also tend to be 100 percent more energy efficient, with consistently good scores on the HERS Index, which measures a home’s energy consumption. Finally, Schell Brothers’ 4Tress homes meet stringent requirements in durability, strength, moisture and water protection, and sound attenuation. Among their hundreds of awards are four Regal Awards for Best Green Home.
11) Payne and Payne
Website | 440.286.9758 | 10750 Mayfield Road, Chardon, OH 44024
Payne and Payne Builders, founded in 1993 and run by David Payne Sr., David Payne Jr., and Mike Payne, has earned over 40 awards and recognitions for custom homes priced above $500k. With a focus on environmental sustainability, Payne and Payne uses some of the most up-to-date systems and materials available. They are LEED Platinum certified through the US Green Building Council and are Green Building Initiative Certified Gold — two of the highest designations possible. Four of their staff members are certified green professionals, and of their many awards, four are for Best Green Built Homes through the HBA of Greater Cleveland.
Payne and Payne builds custom homes in upscale areas throughout Ohio, and many of their residences are built to exist in harmony with their natural surroundings. One residence in Kirtland combines modern style with rural charm. This multi-level home is made mostly of glass, so the interior fills with natural light and provides views of the lush forest. The interior has a modern kitchen, a living area with a dramatic stone fireplace, and chic bathrooms.
10) Constructive Solutions, Inc.
Website | 406.404.1560 | PO Box 11529, Bozeman, MT 59719
At Constructive Solutions, Inc., founded by Rob Evans in 1999, sustainability is not a special service. It is a set of principles built right into the design and construction process, so that all of CSI’s methods are driven by energy efficiency and responsible use of resources. The firm holds certifications in LEED, NAHB Green, and Energy Star. Their Legends Residence, which received a 2007 LEED Silver Award, was the first LEED for Home certified project in Montana. Two other homes received LEED awards in Silver and Gold, and their Gateway Residence earned the 2016 Greenbuilder Media Green Home of the Year Award.
The Gateway Residence is a remarkable modern home built right into the hillside, so the grass-covered roof is actually the top layer of the hill. From a distance, it would literally blend into the landscape, but up close, the wood and stone exterior is visible between layers of the striking Montana scenery. Inside, the home has stained concrete floors, passive heat sinks, and a geothermal heat pump that keeps the home at a steady temperature.
9) Evolutionary Home Builders
Website | 630.485.1818 | 200 S. Third Street, Geneva, IL 60134
Evolutionary Home Builders is a Chicago-based design-build firm founded by Brandon Weiss, a third-generation builder. In its eight years, the firm has created a number of luxurious and eco-friendly custom homes throughout the Chicago area. They have earned nearly 20 awards, 11 of which recognize excellence in sustainable building. These include two US Department of Energy Housing Innovation Awards, an NAHB Green Award, aGreen Builder Magazine Home of the Year Award, a USGBC Illinois Emerald Award for Innovation, and multiple ICON Awards of Excellence for Energy Efficiency Remodels around $150k.
In 2013, they were the NAHB National Master Certified Green Professional of the Year. They hold certifications in Passive House Design, LEED for Homes, Living Building Challenge 3.0, US Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home, and EPA’s Energy Star Certified Home, Indoor Air Plus, and WaterSense. Additionally, they are affiliated with Cradle to Cradle, Greenguard, and WELL Building Standard.
8) Lord General Contractors
Website | 727.398.0008 | 13799 Park Boulevard, North Suite 143, Seminole, FL 33776
Led by Robert Lord, this firm is a Graduate Master Builder specializing in eco-friendly residential home building, primarily in the Florida area. The company is also a Certified Green Professional and only one of 10 EPA Energy Star 100% Commitment Builders in the state of Florida. Of their many awards, they have received an Icon Award of Excellence for Green Design, an Agent’s Choice Award for a Favorite Eco-Friendly Residential Project, a Community Development Award for “The Ultimate Green House,” and a Pacesetter National Award. In 2009, they earned an Icon Award of Excellence for a new construction over $4M. Their work in sustainable building has been featured in publications international, including The Canadian National post, The Chicago Tribune, The Sun Times News Group, The Daily Herald, Kane County Chronicle, Northwest News Group, and many more.
Their green homes feature things like underground geothermal heating and cooling systems, house-wide low-E ThermaWrap and AtticWrap, and hybrid septic and water systems that reduce waste matter decomposition time. Some even include in-home, self-replenishing waterfalls; hybrid electric toilets; and millwork utilizing native trees cleared from the building sites.
7) Frankel Building Group
Website | 713.623.4646 | 5701 Woodway, Suite 200, Houston TX 77057
Frankel Building Group is the top award-winning custom luxury home builder in all of Houston. The company is run by Chairman and Founder Jim Frankel, one of the very first Graduate Master Builders in the entire country and a Greater Houston Builders Association Custom Builder of the Year. Scott Frankel, co-president and principal, was NAHB’s 2017 Best in Green Young Professional of the Year in Builder Magazine. Kevin Frankel, co-president and principal, was the Greater Houston Builders Association Green Advocate of the Year in 2012.
The firm specializes in eco-friendly designs, especially energy and water efficiency. It was one of the first companies to adopt the USGBC’s LEED for Homes program. In their 30 years of experience, the firm has received more than 50 awards, many highlighting excellence in sustainable building in million-dollar custom homes, such as multiple Green Advocate of the Year and Single Family Green Home of the Year Awards from Houston’s Best PRISM Awards, and two LEED Homes Power Builder recognitions. Their homes have been featured in publications like BuilderOnline, The Houston Business Journal, and The Houston Chronicle, for eco-friendly building methods that allow their homes to withstand unpredictable elements, such as flooding.
6) Blansfield Builders
Website | 203.797.9174 | 2 High Fields Drive, Danbury, CT 06811
Blansfield Builders is a top custom home builder in upscale southern Connecticut and prestigious Westchester County, New York. With 33 years of experience, this company leads the home construction industry in craftsmanship and sustainable building. Of its 50-plus awards, Blansfield Builders has been recognized for multiple “HOBI” Awards, through the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Connecticut, for custom homes 5,000 to 8,000 square feet and for residential remodels priced as high as $3M.
President Jim Blansfield has committed both his personal and professional life to sustainability; Blansfield Builders is LEED-AP certified, a proud member of the US Green Building Council (USGBC), a NAHB Certified Green Professional, and an EPA Lead-Safe certified firm. They are affiliated with Earth 911, Tree Hugger, EPA Go Green Initiative, Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Green Building Program, and many more. Their award-winning and multimillion-dollar luxury homes range from modern farmhouse chic and contemporary classics to French country-inspired.
5) Tiny Heirloom
Website | 503.836.3934 | 19700 SW 118th Avenue, Tualatin, OR 97062
Perhaps one of the most unique sustainable builders in the US, this company is best known for their HGTV series Tiny Luxury. Tiny Heirloom is a family-run business started in 2014 by young builders and entrepreneurs Zach and Hannah Francis, Jason and Brianna Francis, and Tyson and Michelle Spiess. An Oregon-based firm that builds all over America, Tiny Heirloom is so committed to environmental sustainability that they’ve found a way to create luxury custom homes that sell for around $120k but take up fewer than 500 square feet. They use recycled materials to build. Their homes are set up for solar power and are built with 100 percent renewable energy. Their custom homes start at $89k and they also have their Signature Series starting at $45k that are designed and built with their same unmatched quality and attention to detail.
No two tiny houses are alike, and Tiny Heirloom’s team of designers and builders work hard to ensure that the level of craftsmanship is on par with fine artwork. In spite of their size, they contain luxury features akin to any other mansion, such as vaulted ceilings, skylights, clawfoot bathtubs, subway tile in the kitchen areas, and traditional chandeliers. Some even contain “living walls,” where plants can bloom indoors, from the floor to the ceiling. Although Tiny Heirloom hasn’t earned as many awards as other firms, their television and social media presence is helping spread the word about innovative and unique solutions to sustainable building challenges, as the demand for tiny houses continues to grow.
4) Meadowlark Design+Build
Website | 734.332.1500 | 3250 W. Liberty Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Meadowlark is a full-service design-build contractor of high-end custom homes, as well as one of the nation’s leading green builders. The firm was co-founded in 2004 by CEO Doug Selby, a chemistry major at Michigan State University. He has experience as a professional pharmaceutical chemist and cancer researcher. Kirk Brandon, co-founder and COO, graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in accounting.
Their achievements in sustainable building stand out — among them multiple USGBC-LEED Awards, GreenBuild Achievement Awards through the Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Ann Arbor, and a Professional Remodeler Gold Award for Green Remodel. They have also received multiple Chrysalis Awards for green building. Meadowlark holds certifications in LEED and Passive House building and is affiliated with Living Build Challenge and ZERO Energy Ready Home. They specialize in the nation’s most efficient HVAC, low-flow and water-saving plumbing, and low-energy electricity systems.
3) Hammer & Hand
Website | 503.232.2447 | 1020 Southeast Harrison Street, Portland OR 97214
This accomplished, eco-friendly home builder focuses on Passive House design, which is the strictest set of guidelines for green building. Founders Sam Hagerman and Daniel Thomas, who studied at Reed College, created Hammer & Hand in 1995. The firm has worked with acclaimed architects like David Yarbrough, the Rockefeller Partners, and Scott Edwards Architecture. They have received almost 20 awards, several of them recognizing excellence in sustainable building. These include a Beyond Green Merit Award from the National Institute of Building Sciences, a Housing Innovation Award through the US Department of Energy, and multiple Green Home of the Year Awards.
Among their many qualifications in eco-friendly design, Hammer & Hand is a certified Earth Advantage Remodeler, an Energy Trust of Oregon Trade Ally, and a LEED-Accredited Professional. Their new Seattle branch is in the Bullitt Center, considered the “greenest office building in the world.” Their custom houses are contemporary and luxurious and are designed to sit harmoniously within the natural landscape. They have been featured in The Oregonian, Proud Green Home, and The Portland Tribune.
Website | 520.270.4205 | Tucson, AZ
DUST is a team of architects, builders, artists, and designers founded in Tucson, AZ, in 2007. Although they haven’t won as many awards as other firms on this list, their creations are more like art pieces than regular homes, and their out-of-the-box approach to sustainable building deserves special recognition. Leaders Cade Hayes and Jesüs Robles are natives to the American Southwest, and all of their work stems from their relationship to the environment. Hayes’ father was a welder, and Robles is the son of a Mexican-American father and a mother who was a Korean immigrant. Growing up inspired by the desert terrain, they both went on to study architecture at Texas Tech University. They have earned many awards throughout the years, such as multiple Terra Awards for Earthen Architecture. Their work has been featured in a number of national and international publications, such as Luxe and Luxury Magazine.
DUST creates homes from the land, inspired by the land, that honor its biodiversity and cultural history. One remarkable, entirely off-the-grid home was built in the Madrean Archipelago, a place of refuge for migrating tribes and animals with a unique political and ecological past. The 945-square-foot structure is comprised of natural materials that camouflage it among oaks and manzanitas, so as to respect the refuge-like location. Large and bi-folding metal doors on both sides connect the interior to the landscape, and scoria walls moderate the temperature and solar gain.
1) Phil Kean Designs
Website | 407.599.3922 | 912 West Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789
This boutique firm specializes in both the design and construction of eco-friendly and multimillion-dollar homes. With locations in New York and Florida, the team is considered one of most accomplished green builders in central Florida. Of their hundreds of awards for multimillion-dollar custom homes, 13 recognize excellence in sustainable building methods. These include the Best in American Living Award for Green-Built Home, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Sustainable Design Award through the Orlando Chapter of AIA, and the Highest Scoring Certified Green Home in Florida Award from the Florida Green Building Coalition.
They have also earned five Grand Aurora Awards for achievements in water and energy efficiency, the LEED-H 2009 Project of the Year through USGBC Central Florida Chapter, the First Place Green Design Award through American Institute of Building Design (AIBD), and the Green Design and Energy Efficiency Watermark Award through Custom Home Magazine. Their work has been featured in almost 100 publications, and they are affiliated with the AIA, NAHB, AIBD, and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). The firm is operated by Phil Kean, an experienced architect, certified residential contractor, and a licensed interior designer with years of experience in every aspect of home design.