Environmental Design

Live in Harmony with Your Environment

We practice environmental design at Greenovision, meaning that the environmental conditions of your site and its surroundings influence your home design. We believe that homes should complement and be a sensitive addition to the surrounding landscape while honoring the aesthetics of your existing neighborhood or terrain. Positive conditions such as beautiful vistas, passive solar exposure, cool summer breezes, etc are utilized to benefit you home. Negative conditions such as unsightly views, a noisy street, glaring western sunlight, harsh winter winds, etc are minimized through careful design.

Integration of the built form into such a complex, yet subtle landscape is a matter of understanding each building site and being realistic as to how your design either melds with the local environment or stands apart from it. Although there are acceptable times to contrast from our surroundings and neighbors, we generally strive to meld and integrate your home into its encompassing environment. Since our environment is experienced collectively by all living beings, we must live with our neighboring structures with either delight or dyspathy.


Understanding how to design and situate your home into its environment is developed through understanding the vast and complex scales of the land and sky. Although not every site has Montana’s “Big Sky” phenomena, many sites do. There are also narrow canyons, dense urban areas, and tightly wooded forests that require a different set of design parameters to arrive at appropriate massing, building heights, and roof forms. There is always the potential in every setting to better fit in, enjoy, and compliment your environment through attention to local details in scales (heights, widths, lengths, and volumes) of not only buildings, but natural phenomena like trees, topography backdrop, or amount of overhead sky. This cannot be achieved by simply picking a house style from a catalog.

Color and Texture

Montana has arrays of color and texture pallets which can vary from dark wooded areas to brilliant golden fields of wheat. Large swaths of wildflowers or snowfields, areas of river rock, sandstone outcrops, and limestone features can all be color pallet cues for us to follow and integrate into your home design. It is through the careful examination your home design in conjunction to the real environment that we arrive at appropriate colors and textures for the exterior and interior of your home.


Natural ramps and features like ridges, buttes, aretes, synclines, anticlines, glens, and valleys are all possible informants when adjusting roof forms and building volume massings.

Relating Roof lines to Topography

When nature’s existing angles, colors, and other natural cues are carefully studied and reflected, amazing things can happen both inside and outside of your home. Architecture that is connected and grounded to the aesthetics of your location is far different from simply choosing a style such as bungalow, craftsman, colonial, ranch, or contemporary, leaving you free to new design possibilities. Roof pitches are often formalities with no connection to the encompassing landscape. The shed roofs seen in many of our designs are not just a style; they are carefully integrated to have multiple purposes to help meld with your environment as well as aid in passive solar heating, passive cooling, water and snow drainage, and other strategies.

The roof angles of Liberty House were designed to mimic the slope of nearby Haystack Mountain. The sage green metal roofing and locally grown & milled, natural-colored cedar siding create soft colors that allow the home to sit in beautifully with the environment. The surrounding mountain and hillside slopes of the Quinn Creek Home were carefully analyzed and integrated into the design and roof pitches. Even though this photo is in color, winter light conditions often create a black-and-white-like effect. The darker and lighter colored metal siding and roofing colors were purposefully chosen to help the home blend with the environment during the changing seasons.

The tools used for site analysis

While having an artist’s and naturalist’s keen eye for scale, color, texture, and topography is an important component of environmental design, we rely on hard data as well. The first phase of a new or remodel home design is the site analysis in which we collect information on your site’s annual weather patterns, the topographical survey, geological data, and the area’s codes, convents, and setbacks. We also perform an initial sunlight analysis using Google Earth and often meet with neighboring residents to learn about their valuable observations, experience, and suggestions. We work may with other professionals, including a surveyor or a geotechnical engineer, and later on during the construction drawing phases, a structural engineer may help us to configure the appropriate structural and roof load elements specific to the snow loads, snow drifting, winds, and tectonic information for your site. Correct and thorough home design is achieved by first gathering as much information as possible, analyzing that data, and then beginning to develop the design.

Enjoy the outdoors from within