As green building—construction with sustainability and the environment in mind—continues to gain traction in mainstream architecture, we are learning more about the positive effects its leaving on the environment. Green building hinges upon utilizing non-traditional construction materials, such as solar panels and rock slabs, to maximize heating and cooling efficiency. Buildings which surpass the highest threshold of efficiency are deemed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. Building 110 at the Center for Disease Control Center for Laboratory Science achieved LEED Gold status for its use of bamboo, recyclable materials and water conservation systems. And like California's Z6 House, the CDC building utilizes the process of solar harvesting—or reigning in energy from the sun's intense rays to generate electricity. Even something as small as swapping out traditional home appliances for energy-efficient ones, like those featured in the Solar Umbrella House, allow users to generate up to twice the amount of electricity even in larger structures.
Aside from the cost of materials—currently on the decline—there doesn't seem to be much of a downside to constructing sustainable buildings from environmentally-friendly materials. Here are just a few well-known (and pretty cool) buildings that defied old building practices to create something unique.