Where Blue Meets Green: Sustainable Waterfront Homes


Waterfront living brings one closer to the healing blue of oceans, lakes and rivers. But what about helping to actually heal the earth? Experts say interest in waterfront green living may be on the rise.

“Based on my experience and in talking to other realtors, homeowners today who are buying a primary or vacation home by the water are paying more attention to sustainability,” said Seth Tilton, a realtor for ERA Evergreen Real Estate Company in Hilton Head, S.C., and a certified expert in sustainable real estate. “There is a lot more awareness about overall wellness than ever before and green living is a part of that.”

Most of these buyers gravitate to recently built homes, Mr. Tilton said, because they’re more likely to be eco-friendly than older ones. “A property that’s 20 or 30 years old doesn’t usually incorporate sustainability, unless it has been extensively renovated, because there wasn’t as much awareness on the topic back then,” he said.

Features of a green home may include solar panels that supply heat and air conditioning, energy efficient appliances, LED lighting, and insulated windows and walls that minimize energy use. Waterfront homes might also include recycled shells or colorful tiles as part of the construction adding an eco-friendly warmth and sense of place.

Here is a look at green waterfront homes in five destinations around the world.

Price $2.95 million

About 35 minutes by car from Savannah, Ga., this home is part of Palmetto Bluff, a 20,000-acre coastal community and nature conserve with a focus on sustainability and environmental education. In 2003, the owners established the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, a nonprofit that protects the diverse ecosystem of wetlands, forests and wildlife like white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and gray foxes.

Once the project is complete, more than half of the community’s land will be in a conservation easement never to be developed. Every Palmetto Bluff home has eco-friendly features and amenities including ample green spaces and footpaths; multiple fitness centers, restaurants, a dog park and spa; and more than a dozen land and water activities such as fishing, sporting clays and boating.

Size 5,489 square feet

The Home The home, with five bedrooms and baths and two half baths, is in Palmetto Bluff’s River Road neighborhood, characteristic for its classic residences and adjacent to a 120-acre preserve. It’s light and bright with a white color theme and overlooks the inland waterway. The entry-level includes a sprawling living room with high ceilings, an open kitchen, a second back kitchen and the master suite.

An additional three bedrooms are on the second floor while a fourth bedroom, with a sitting area and kitchenette, is above the three-car garage. Sustainable features include energy-efficient appliances and heating system, green construction and paving materials and insulation that’s designed to minimize the use of heat and air conditioning.

Outdoor Space The back has a large screened porch, and the landscape design is comprised mostly of native trees such as magnolias.

Taxes $15,009 a year for primary homeowners; $42,692 a year for secondary homeowners

Price $2.3 million

This home, called Villa Laterite, is in Sasawane, a coastal village in Alibag, a three-hour drive south of Mumbai. It was built in 2018 and sits just over 600 feet away from the sea. The area, a popular second home and vacation spot for Mumbai residents, is known for its scenic beaches; excellent, inexpensive seafood; and cultural sites such as historic Kolaba Fort.

Size 5,543 square feet

The Home Spanning three levels, the villa has three bedrooms and baths and a contemporary Indian aesthetic of dark Burmese teak woods mixed with gold finishes and colorful patterned tiles. High ceilings and natural light are a feature throughout. A large living and dining room, kitchen and bedroom are on the entry-level while the floor above has two more bedrooms and a family room. The third level has an uncovered tiled terrace.

Villa Laterite has solar water heaters and LED lights, and a generator on hand as a power backup. Three wells, along with a rainwater harvesting system, supply the home with water.

Outdoor Space The home is built on more than an acre of land and the property is lush with native trees including mango, lemon, papaya and guava. It also has spacious lawn, a produce garden, a lap pool and multiple decks.

Price $399,000

This apartment, in an upscale seaside resort development in Andalusia, on Spain’s southeast coast, is part of a residential community that’s scheduled to be completed in November. Located in the heart of Sotogrande’s vibrant marina, the community consists of two buildings, one with eight apartments and the other with 56; this property is in the latter. All residences have electric heaters that supply hot water using thermal solar energy, energy-efficient appliances, LED lighting, and walls and roofing with thermal insulation that cut down on the use of heat and air conditioning.

Amenities within the community include a pool and multiple green areas with native plants. The beach, five golf courses and activities such as horseback riding, tennis and sailing are a short walk away.

Size 1,119 square feet

The Home The apartment, which includes two bedrooms and two baths, has an airy feel and contemporary style that includes light wood finishes. The kitchen is long and narrow and opens to the living and dining area as well as a hallway leading to the two bedrooms and baths. The master bathroom has two sinks, and both baths have large showers.

Outdoor Space There’s a spacious terrace off the living room with unobstructed views of the marina and the Mediterranean Sea. The terrace can also be accessed from the master bedroom.

Taxes $1,143 a year

Price $2.6 million

This three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home is in the coastal Los Angeles neighborhood of Marina del Ray, known for its namesake harbor and vibrant seaside restaurants. The property is a block from the harbor in one of the few areas close to the water that has single-family homes; direct waterfront properties in Marina Del Ray are mostly apartments and condominiums.

Size 2,304 square feet

The Home Split into three levels, the home has a dramatic entryway with a glass wall and two-story ceiling. Common spaces including the kitchen and living and dining rooms are on the entry floor, while the bedrooms are on the second level and a spacious covered roof garden is on the third. Sustainable features include energy efficient appliances and solar energy that heats the home and supplies hot water.

Outdoor Space Akin to a tropical rainforest, the space offers an abundance of palm and bird of paradise trees. In front of the home, there’s also a fire pit, spacious patio and lily pond. There’s a smaller slate patio in the back with a barbecue and waterfall spa. A drip irrigation system waters plants slowly, a feature designed to save water.

Taxes Around $2,750 a month


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