Middlebury College placed fourth in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon! When I read the headline, I imagined Middlebury College students racing full-tilt against Toyota Priuses or pedaling solar vehicles with Wright Brothers-like PV panel wings. The event is even better: it’s about green homes.

It is an international competition that challenges 20 college teams to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The Middlebury students called their home ‘Self Reliance‘ and modeled it after the traditional New England Farmhouse. Take a look:

The house is designed in the Vermont Vernacular: “We have distilled the architecture of the New England farmhouse into a pure gable form. Tradition guided our design, but still allowed us to innovate. We drew primarily upon the gable roof, a regional form, to help us deal with the climatic burden of snow and rain. The gable is an appealing, recognizable element that helps identify our structure as a home. The solidity of the form reads as shelter — a home’s most basic purpose.”

The Middlebury team believes that “architecture has the potential to end irresponsible energy consumption” and create a comfortable and sustainable environment. Self Reliance proves that an environmentally responsible home can be beautiful, comfortable and even affordable for a family. More and more green homes in Vermont are starting to prove the same point.

Take a look a these green homes. But if you have your heart set on an historic home or a ski home or even a condo, you can turn it green with a little help from Efficiency Vermont. Efficiency Vermont offers many rebates and incentives to help Vermonters make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. You might not win the Solar Decathlon, but you will enjoy lower fuel bills and feel good about reducing your impact on the environment.