Today's architects have a lot of considerations to juggle when drawing up new homes, from the aesthetics to the functionality to the environmental footprint. Those placing a priority on the latter will often look to the Passive House standard as a guide, which promotes energy efficiency through air-tightness and insulation. Here we present eight of these low-carbon homes that are particularly easy on the eye.

The Passive House standard started out as a German concept, dubbed Passivhaus, that called for greater attention to the construction elements of glazing and insulation. Using the right materials and engineering, these work together to properly seal interiors and keep internal temperatures stable throughout the seasons.

This in turn keeps the need for artificial heating and cooling systems to a minimum. You can read more about the specifics of official certification over at the Passive House Institute's website. The first Passive House concept popped up in Germany in 1990 and used just eight percent of the heating energy of a standard home at the time. This movement has since grown with thousands of certified Passive Houses being built all over the globe.

And as these homes are continuing to show us, a low environmental footprint certainly doesn't need to come at the cost of attractiveness. We've allowed a little leeway of the interpretation in this roundup, with a couple of those featured following Passive House standards throughout their construction but not yet gaining official certification. We hope you'll forgive us this leniency once you lay eyes on them.

Jump on into the gallery to take a look at our picks, where you can also click on the name of the homes in the captions to learn more about them.

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