Living small oftentimes means living a lifestyle that is friendly toward the environment. Consider small prefabricated homes, homes that are among the fastest-growing “green” homes in environmentally conscious circles. A green home features such eco-friendly things as rainwater capturing systems, a roof designed for solar installation, carpeting made of recycled materials, and wind power. While it’s not necessarily the case that the smaller the home the greener it is, the case can be made of prefab homes built with that goal in mind.

Green prefab homes are built with one essential goal: to reduce the homeowner’s carbon footprint on the planet. An eco-friendly fact of   green  prefab homes is that they are built in a factory, which means a sharp reduction in the material waste that usually accompanies residential construction. Another benefit to the environment is their construction material.

Many are built with sustainability in mind, from “cradle to cradle” in environmentalist parlance. Materials such as recycled glass and reclaimed  wood  are used, as is special construction for elements such as  green  or “garden” roofs and walls. Some homes are finished on the inside with special paints and varnishes that drastically reduce or eliminate home-interior “off-gassing” associated with standard articles such as fabrics.

Shrinking homeowners’ footprints was the motivation that drove Copeland Casati to start Green Modern Kits, Green Cottage Kits and Green Cabin Kits (GreenModernKits.com, GreenCottageKits.com and GreenCabinKits.com), companies that produce passive-solar prefab house kits. These homes are designed “to collect, store and distribute solar energy,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy, with the help of passive-solar design that uses fewer heating and cooling systems.

Another example of a company that successfully merges the concepts of “green” and “small” is the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company (http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com) founded by Jay Shafer. Shafer started building small homes out of his concern about the impact a larger house has on the environment. These “tiny” portable homes come fully insulated with double-pane windows and an adequate efficiency heating system.

Topping the larger end of the green prefab scale, Blu Homes, Inc. (http://www.bluhomes.com) recently came out with its newest home, the Blu | Balance, an eco-friendly and spacious house that measures more than 1,600 square feet. The one-story home has a flexible floor plan and comes with two or three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. As with other green prefab homes, Blu models come with low-flow fixtures, energy star appliances and architectural characteristics that maximize passive heating and cooling. But what makes this company stand out is its unique home-folding design. The folding technology and computer modeling is put to use in the factory construction, allowing Blu to build quickly and economically ship anywhere, where the home is unfolded and completed on-site.

These and more designers and companies are showing up from the four corners of the Internet. As we move into the second decade of the 2000s, there is much to build upon green prefab homes that already prove that green design can be modern and chic.