The 2012 National Green Building Conference got under way with a daylong Green Building and Technology Tour April 29 that showcased the best of Nashville-area high-performance home buliding. From a luxury custom home to a sustainable historical renovation and an affordable ICF project, the tour highlighted the area’s diverse green building options.

To learn more, see the descriptions below and click on the slide show at left for design and product highlights.

Sporting super-insulating ICF construction, high-performance products, and a light-filled open floor plan, this NGBS-Gold home nearing completion outside of Nashville is a far cry from typical local housing for low-income families, says builder Tim Hawbaker.

“It’s definitely not the usual small shotgun-style home—people love the layout,” says Hawbaker, president of Nashville-based A Better House.

The home is the first of four that his company is building in the Woods of Monticello, an affordable housing development project from Nashville’s Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency. Qualifying families of four must earn a combined income of no more than $52,950 to be eligible for the homes, which will sell for about $125,000.

Each of the 1,600-square-foot dwellings will also be affordable to operate, with average monthly utility bills of less than $50, Hawbaker says. To achieve this level of energy efficiency, the builder relied on spray foam insulation, Cree LED lighting, a GE GeoSpring hybrid water heater, and high-efficiency R-11 windows.

This LEED-Platinum renovation, a former carriage house and servants’ quarters, is chock-full of innovative touches and high-performance features.

The home’s sustainable technologies include geothermal heating and cooling, a rainwater harvesting system, a dual-flush toilet, and low-flow fixtures, but the real value of the tiny space is in the efficient way it functions, says builder Ryan Nichols of Green Home. Almost every inch of the 750-square-foot floor plan does double duty, including hidden between-the-studs storage, a Murphy bed in the living room, and a breakfast nook with window seats that transforms into a sleeping area for up to four people.

While the dwelling currently functions as a short-term rental unit, it was designed to adapt to its owners’ future needs, Nichols says. The project, priced at about $200 a square foot, was guided according to a 50-year plan so that it can be functional for several generations without significant reconstruction. To that end, planners included a roll-in shower, blocking for grab bars in the bathroom, wheelchair-accessible sinks, and wide doorways.

The renovation produced very little trash—about one Dumpster full—and nearly 95% of the materials used to refurbish the home were reclaimed from other buildings and salvage yards. To maximize energy efficiency, the home is outfitted with radiant heat floors, soy-based spray foam insulation, and Marvin high-efficiency windows and doors.