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You Might Actually Be Able To Afford A Sustainable House: 2015 In Buildings

A year of tiny houses that don’t use much energy (some you can take with you when you move).

Finding an affordable place to live is a problem around the world, whether you’re a non-millionaire living in San Francisco or someone living on less than $2 a day in India. It’s usually even harder to find something that’s both cheap and sustainable. But these new designs show how quickly that’s changing.

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To make use of temporarily vacant land in cities, Dutch developers are testing tiny solar-powered apartments that can be built in a day and later moved. In a U.S., another startup is testing ultra-efficient apartments that fit on otherwise unbuildable lots and then come with you if you need to move to another city.

Beautiful prefab houses are also getting cheaper, and when they don’t use any energy from the grid, homeowners can save on years of utility bills. For those who already have a home, a simple, cheap retrofit kit can turn it into a zero-energy house.

Construction can also be cheaper if you don’t start from scratch; this concept for a floating village repurposes old oil tankers that would otherwise be scrapped.

Homes are also getting cheaper because they’re getting faster to build. In the developing world, this simple modular home is designed to go up in a day. On this list of 100 buildings that represent the future of architecture, one of the most interesting is a structure that doesn’t need much construction at all: it’s inflatable.

1: These Beautiful Floating Villages Are Made From Old Oil Tankers
Inspiring the world toward a future without oil.

2: Can’t Make Rent? This Beautiful Squatter’s Home Can Be Built On A Vacant Lot In A Day
An Amsterdam real estate developer wants young people to occupy affordable, moveable homes on properties where building is stalled—and move when construction gets started again.

3: 100 Breathtaking Buildings That Represent The Future Of Architecture
Where you’ll be living soon, from glass tree houses to inflatable buildings.

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4: This Zero-Energy Home Is Run By Machines And Costs A Lot Less Than A Regular House
Can the Axiom House create a new model for how we design houses—and how we build them?

5: Moving? You Can Take This Tiny, Cheap, Smart Apartment With You Wherever You Go
Want to move from San Francisco to Austin? Forget packing and Craigslist. Soon, you’ll open an app and ship your whole place.

6: In Just A Week, This Kit Turns Old Houses Into Zero-Energy Homes (For Free)
The dream of net-zero homes isn’t just for the rich anymore.

7: This House Can Be Built In A Day, At An Affordable Price
A recipe for very quick, modular construction could help solve housing needs in the developing world.

8: 5 Gorgeous Hospitals That Show How Good Design Can Improve Patients’ Lives

These health care facilities look more like Google’s campus than the drab, depressing spaces most of us experience when we’re sick.

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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