Balancing beauty and performance may be the greatest challenge green building teams face in creating homes that meet the needs of their residents for comfort, lifestyle, shelter, and functionality. The best sustainable homes combine architectural detailing with exemplary performance and great floor plans with sustainable materials, all while conserving energy and resources, promoting health, and ensuring durability. And just as we look to green building products and materials to address multiple attributes, so should the best green home designs address these multiple goals.

How to achieve this balance is an intriguing question, one that not only inspired us to establish the EcoHome Design Awards, but also that repeatedly challenged our award jury as they reviewed the projects submitted for consideration in each category. In the end, the 10 projects that follow reflect the best integration of design and performance features within their categories, and the basic truth that in order to describe a house as a great green home, one must also be able to simply say, “This is a great home.” Response to style will always be subjective, just as priorities and solutions for high-performance features will probably always vary, but we are heartened by the convergence of style and performance exhibited in our first class of award-winning projects, and we are proud to share them with you here.

Click here to see all of the 2010 EHDA winners.