LEED-Certified Home: Orleans Modern Green Home in Orleans, Massachusetts

Mod goes modern in this LEED Gold-certified art enclave nestled in New England.

Orleans Modern Green Home in Orleans, Massachusetts immediately evokes both a self-sufficient and modern-sleek feel. With its organic shapes and a color palette cast in bright red, orange and cedar, the home may appear like other ‘60s-turned-contemporary properties at first blush, but don’t let that fool you: Orleans Modern Green Home boasts a LEED-certified construction that can only be called thoroughly modern.

Developed by the United States Green Buildings Council (USGBC), LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED-certified buildings are created to improve performance across five key metrics: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.

Boston-based architecture and design firm ZeroEnergy Design (ZED) created the home. According to ZeroEnergy.com, ZED “designed this LEED Gold-certified residence to replace the original building and remained true to the family traditions that have developed since the land was purchased back in 1958.”

Back then, the home was owned by a conservation-oriented botanist and statistician who appreciated simple, modern design. Over the years, as family members visited, the home became a central gathering place, and art pieces from globetrotting adventures as well as creations from family members came to decorate the space.

Today, the home has been revisioned to “continue the legacy of a modern artistic home,” but executed in such a way as to leave a minimal environmental impact. According to Dwell.com, “New features include the clean, green feeling throughout the house, healthy indoor air quality, very comfortable and stable temperatures from the radiant floors, and exceptional energy performance with renewable energy systems.”

The house’s profile and outdoor design—including tiered decks plus a mix of textures and tones—make it feel right at home in the center of a lushly tree-lined property. According to ZeroEnergy.com, “Abutting the roof deck is a lush, living green roof built to fill the view with green vegetation at eye level while seated, and reduce roof run-off [sic] from storm water. The second level rooftop reveals 2.5 kilowatts of solar electric panels which provides ~30 [percent] of the home's electricity.”

Orleans Modern Green Home also boasts a master bedroom with views of the lake through the trees, a full bathroom with soaking tub and double-length sink and an ample walk-in closet. Casement and awning windows at strategic locations throughout the house “encourage passive ventilation with cool air on summer nights,” according to ZeroEnergy.com

Given the home’s proximity to the coast, the house was constructed using specialized hurricane-resistant structural reinforcements and windows, spray foam insulation, rigid foam to eliminate thermal bridging and a fiber cement-cedar mix as exterior siding for low maintenance and increased longevity, according to ZeroEnergy.com.

Visitors will notice myriad rectangular windows and airy interiors awash in light. Curved bar stools and an oblong armchair recall a Mod sensibility on the first floor, as do the chocolatey accents. Grainy wood cabinets and beveled wooden window frames add just enough texture to balance the interior’s sleek lines and crisp white walls.

Orleans Modern Green Home thus channels both Mod and modern vibes, bringing to mind the vibrant art and culture of the 1960s while embracing the lighter footprint favored by modern design.

If you're interested in learning more about the specifics of LEED-certification, take a look at USGBC's Guide to Certification.