A good friend of mine is real estate crazy. She trolls Craigslist and New York real estate blogs like Brownstowner and Curbed admiring all the goods — beautiful uptown brownstones, sexy downtown studios, “classic sixes” with classy ZIP codes, rambling Victorian mansions in the outer reaches of Brooklyn, etc. — that are on the market for millions of dollars. Thing is, she doesn’t have that kind of money to spend on a home in New York City. But it doesn’t hurt to look, right? Is it okay to say, “what if?” for a brief moment and pretend that a $2.5 million two-bedroom apartment is within reach? My friend has insisted on calling real estate brokers to arrange viewing appointments, the ultimate in real estate interloper fantasy. “It’s an open house,” she’d say. “They can’t deny us. We’re just looking.”
Below are a handful of sites offering virtual — and a couple real — green home tours in the form of photos, videos or slideshows with accompanying text. Please note, not all of these properties are for sale; they're simply on display as feats of sustainable design. But that’s not always the case. So put your “pretend cap” on, kick up your feet, and let’s take a tour, shall we?
• At HGTV.com, you can take a room-by-room virtual tour of the stunning 2008 Green Home. And building enthusiasts: Be sure to keep track of the under-construction 2009 Green Home in Port Saint Lucie, Fla.
• Another excellent place to peruse homes for sale is Green Homes For Sale, a site that bills itself as a "Green & Healthy Home Marketplace." There are photos galore and users can search by country or by categories like "Strawbale Homes," "Solar Homes," "Adobe Homes" and "Green Prefab Homes."
• Like Build It Green, Seattle’s Green Home Tours offers in-the-flesh tours of remarkable eco-abodes. The tours are free and give “tourists” a glimpse into both finished homes and homes being built or remodeled.
If you have any recommendations, please share in the comments section below. And if terms of non-virtual green home tours, I mention a couple above but there are a ton out there in various cities. They're generally sponsored by local building associations or environmental organizations and take place on a monthly or yearly basis. The GreenHomeNYC Green Buildings Open House events are also worth mentioning (the above photo was snapped at one of the organization's tours). The goal of these tours is usually not to seduce prospective buyers but to educate on green building technology and, of course, show off some pretty fabulous real estate.