Entries tagged as 'green'
We received an email a while back from GreenPod Development.
From their site:
They have a complete line of models called soloPODS:
size: 840 sf
price: $184,000 - $224,000 for land/box packages in Port Townsend
footprint: 57’ 4” long x 15’ wide
Realtor Charlie Arthur of RE/MAX FIRST, INC. is blogging about the house:
Scroll through his recent posts for more details, e.g.
If you find yourself in the area, check out their upcoming Open House:
event: ideabox Open House
where: Port Townsend, WA
location: 1650 Cherry Street
date: March 26, 2009
time: 9:00am - 12:00pm
Hat tip: Jetson Green on February 18, 2009.
The company currently has two models available.
model: casa ti
company: Green Modern Kits
designer: David Day Architecture
price: starting at $22,537
size: 1,200 sf
fabrication time: 3 weeks
floorplans: casa ti floorplan (PDF)
model: The R1 Residential
company: Green Modern Kits
designer: Grace Street
price: starting at $30,000
size: 2,028 - 2,168 sf
fabrication time: 3 weeks
Also check out:
Michelle Kaufmann just released a new book called "Prefab Green".
Listed at $30.00, the book is on sale at Amazon for $19.80.
See also: our page of prefab books.
title: Prefab Green
author: Michelle Kaufmann and Cathy Remick
release date: February 15, 2009
list price: $30
details: 176 pages, Hardcover
publisher: Gibbs Smith
The New York Times recently discussed the sustainability of modular housing.
Mentioned in the article:
Read the entire article.
Author: Nick Chambers
Publication: New York Times
Section: Green Inc. Blog ("Energy, the Environment and the Bottom Line")
Length: 467 words
Date: February 11, 2009
(Hat tip: Charles Bevier of Building Systems on February 11, 2009.)
According to the BrightBuilt Barn website:
model: BrightBuilt Barn
designer: Kaplan Thompson Architects
size: 700 sf
beds: 1 - 2
Other coverage around the web:
For more details, read the entire article.
Author: Steven Kurutz
Publication: The New York Times
Section: Home & Garden
Length: 195 words
Date: January 14, 2009
In it, she says:
While the paper doesn't address prefab specifically, it covers issues that could affect the industry. It's definitely worth a look.
Hat tip: Building Systems on November, 27, 2008.
That comes out to about $27.50 a square foot. That's in Turkey; I wonder how much it would cost to build the same home here.
The company website is in Turkish, but they do have a video page that's worth a look.
Length: 712 words
Date: October 31, 2008
(Hat tip: Treehugger)
We just received an email from Ann Raab at GreenPod Development:
event: GreenPod open house
where: Burlington, WA
location: Transform manufacturing plant, 11857 Bay Ridge Drive
date: December 13-14, 2008
time: 10:00am - 3:00pm
We previously covered SIPs and how they are made.
In constrast, an Agriboard SIP:
The classroom was built as a part of the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo which was in Boston last week.
The article listed a number of advantages of modular construction, including:
- each piece of the home can be specially designed and fitted, using materials produced with the least environmental impact for maximum energy efficiency and health - each component — the kitchen, the wiring — can be tested for quality in a factory away from the wind and rain
But also recognized the many challenges: (some we agree with, others we don't)
Miller is hopeful despite the current housing market:
I can almost guarantee you that at the end of this, green building will still be around, and will probably be kicking up even more, and modular will still be around and be kicking up even more.
Read the whole article for more details, including interviews with:
Author: Associated Press
Publication: Boston Herald
Section: Technology Coverage
Length: 708 words
Date: November 20, 2008
Coverage of Project Frog on other blogs:
Last month, a few blogs covered new prefab concepts from Binary Design Studio.
On October 13, 2008 Archinect wrote:
(SEED = Small Energy Efficient Dwelling)
The Archinect post also briefly discusses another prefabricated element the studio is developing:
On October 23, 2008 Inhabitat commented:
On October 27, 2008 Treehugger shared a skeptical view of small, affordable housing:
(Read the post for details on each.)
Other blog coverage:
Of particular interest to Prefabcosm readers:
Read the entire post for the full Q&A.
Architectural Record shared an online excerpt of an April 2008 article about the VH R-10 gHouse on Martha's Vineyard.
Where did they come up with the name?
The local restrictions seem tight:
But the architect managed to work around them:
Details on the house:
model: VH R-10 gHouse
designer: Darren Petrucci, AIA
construction method: structural insulated panels (SIPs)
size: 1,000 sf
footprint: 16' x 40'
lot: 12,518 sf
Be sure to check out the images:
Title: VH R-10 gHouse
Subtitle: Pushing the envelope: Darren Petrucci reinvents the vacation guesthouse with the VH R-10 gHouse on Martha's Vineyard
Author: Beth Broome
Publication: Architectural Record
Length: 506 words (excerpt of article)
Date: April 2008
The winners of the second annual Lifecycle Building Challenge (LBC2 or LBC 2008) were announced recently. About the challenge:
Given those goals, it's no surprise that the three winners in the Building category are prefab:
TriPod by Carnegie Mellon University
TriPod is a prototype house demonstrating the "Plug and Play" concept and is designed to provide an innovative alternative to the currently unimaginative housing industry. ... [A] mechanical "core" ... acts as a motherboard that is able [to] accept multiple "pods" that are living, cooking, and sleeping spaces. This modular design allows homeowners to change their homes by adding or subtracting pods to suit their needs over time.
The Workshop by Schemata Workshop
There are two units in the building — in the first iteration the first story is an office; the second is an apartment. The building is elevated on concrete piers and cantilevers over an existing structure on-site
(See our previous coverage of Loblolly House.)
The challenge is sponsored by West Coast Green, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Building Materials Reuse Association, American Institute of Architects and Southface.
(Hat Tip: Jetson Green on October 29, 2008)
We recently received an email from Blu Homes.
According to their website:
All of their modular homes are fully finished, with a fabrication time of 4-6 weeks and installation time of less than 10 days. They offer several models:
They also offer "Flex" spaces to enlarge an existing home.
From their site:
Preston at Jetson Green has covered the company:
As did Andrew Stone of Active Rain.
The Christian Science Monitor took a look at modular homes last week, focusing on the green qualities:
The article cites a number of reasons why building in the factory is a good idea:
The companies mentioned in the article:
Read the complete article for details.
subtitle: Modular houses are built to higher standards and with less waste, proponents say
publication: The Christian Science Monitor
author: Gregory M. Lamb
length: 1,100 words
publication date: August 13, 2008
We missed this item last year when we covered West Coast Green 2007: the EPA's Lifecycle Building Challenge. From a West Coast Green email:
The Challenge returns to this year's show. The ability to take apart a building and re-assemble it elsewhere seems like prefab in its purest form.
where: West Coast Green 2008
deadline: July 31, 2008
I missed last week, so here is two weeks of prefab news. Daily posts will resume this week; sorry for the gaps!
Last week, Inhabitat's Prefab Friday discussed a unique idea for Olympic stadiums:
Two weeks ago, Inhabitat looked at a container home in New Zealand.
LLoyd Alter, of Treehugger, wrote about green prefab at the Huffington Post:
Treehugger visited the mkSolaire at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry:
Finally, Dwell on Design started yesterday. We'll have a full review of happenings at the show this coming week.
The Denver Post reports on a modular homeowner near Denver:
Jill Warner is having a new home built in Salida that's as green as possible without "going overboard," she said.
Warner found Northstar Homes, based in Loveland, Colorado. According to Hollis Hunt of Northstar:
Their site features some helpful resources, including a list of modular home myths.
Read the full article for other tips on how to build prefab and meet your budget. The article also updates readers on the MKD development in Denver that we've reported on previously.
subtitle: Factory-built homes create less waste than traditional homes, helping to shrink carbon footprints
author: Christian Toto
publication: The Denver Post
length: 704 words
publication date: May 25, 2008
Why is this exhibition so helpful? Ecolectic sums it up:
And Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper goes into further detail:
Treehugger likes the idea:
size: 850 sf
how: plywood kit
The Marmol Radziner Prefab blog wrote about the installation of a new home in California. Check out the post for pictures, including the vibrant blue denim insulation seen above.
greenbuildingsNYC discussed Modular Homes, Inc.:
...an Edison, New Jersey-based custom modular home builder that will break ground in April on what it hopes will be a LEED-certified model home in Robbinsville, New Jersey....
The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday took the week off.
Inhabitat's Prefab Friday looked at a Swiss prefab that uses straw bales:
We’re quite taken by Strohhaus in Eschenz, Switzerland. Designed by Zurich-based architect Felix Jerusalem, this home masterfully combines prefab with sustainable materials, primarily prefabricated strawboard panels that provide affordable, environmentally sound insulation.
Jetson Green covered GreenMobile, an "ultra-affordable, modular green [manufactured] home":
GreenMobile was awarded $5.8 M from FEMA to further develop the prototype and roughly 80 units are in the pipeline right after that prototype comes through.
The Michelle Kaufmann blog announces:
...we have been working very hard for the past few months to get to this point and are now finally ready and delighted to announce that MKD is going to be a part of the “Smart Home: Green + Wired, Powered by ComEd and Warmed by Peoples Gas” exhibit at MSI that’s opening this spring! The exhibit is going to include a full-size mkSolaire™ home to be built in on parkland on the southeast side of the Museum and will showcase the very best in sustainable living concepts and solutions.
A bit more from the museum exhibit page:
During its 75th Anniversary year, the Museum of Science and Industry will be building a functioning, three-story modular and sustainable “green” home ... to highlight unique home technologies for the 21st century.
The home’s module construction will be under way for two or three more weeks on one of the All American assembly lines in Decatur....
Jetson Green says:
I can't wait to see more!
what: Smart Home: Green + Wired exhibit
builder: All American Homes
where: Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL
when: May 8, 2008 - January 4, 2009
A brief collection of thoughts on the growth of the green building industry. What's real, what's not and what people are expecting.
Definitely worth keeping an eye on.
what: Live Xtremely Green blog
Systm, a web video series from Revision3, files a long, detailed video report from the WIRED LivingHome:
This $4 million home in LA isn't exactly what we think of when wanting to integrate more green, eco-friendly aspects to our lives, but it does offer up some great options. LEED certified and designed by architect Ray Kappe, this home offers a great, simple way of constructing a house without compromising the uniqueness of a custom built home.
what: WIRED LivingHome tour
release date: December 31, 2007
Check out the multimedia page on the WIRED LivingHome site for additional photos and videos.
The New York Times says:
Mr. Horden’s Micro Compact House — Mr. Bergdoll [of MoMA] described it as “a giant livable Sony radio cube” — is topped with photovoltaic panels and has wind turbines in its walls, allowing the house to generate its own electricity. An aluminum-clad perfect cube, with about 76 square feet of living space, the tiny dwelling is intended for use as athletic or student housing, or as a miniature vacation house. Mr. Bergdoll met with Mr. Horden in one of his cubes, a space so compact that the architect managed to make espresso on the kitchen counter without leaving his seat at the dining table.
From the micro compact home site:
The micro compact home [m-ch] is a lightweight compact dwelling for one or two people. Its compact dimensions of 2.6m [8.5 ft] cube adapt it to a variety of sites and circumstances, and its functioning spaces of sleeping, working / dining, cooking and hygiene make it suitable for everyday use.
The m-ch has a timber frame structure with anodised aluminium external cladding, insulated with polyurethane and fitted with aluminium frame double glazed windows and front door with security double lock; graphics can be applied for sponsors, exhibition and business use.
More images of the interior:
size: 74 sf
price: EUR 25,000 - 34,000 (~$37,000-$50,000; $500-$675/sf)
how: complete modules
I like weeHouses for three reasons:
The only thing better than beautifully designed green prefab is edible green prefab! One of our favorite green architects Michelle Kauffman, in honor of the holiday season, has designed a yummy version of her awesome zero energy mkLotus, made entirely from gingerbread cookies...
the home can be delivered in as little as 5 weeks.... [It comes] completely assembled, and all the owner would have to do is hook up the electric, the water and the sewer, and their home is ready to go.
Our favorite, the “solar butterfly” roof design, collects rainwater, maximizes the use of daylight, and is fitted with solar photovoltaic panels to generate electricity - all for about $100,000!
The structure is framed in high-recycled-content steel, in SIP form. You can buy casa ti in kit form or buy the plans to build it from scratch. Prices for the kit start at $20,000.
Treehugger looks back: Three Years Ago In TreeHugger: Prefab Crazy.
Holy Moly Batman…a house that powers itself, composts its own waste, collects its own water, and is completely automatic doing all of these things. When can I get one?
Inhabitat's Prefab Friday wrote about the Linx Shipping Container Shelter, a container concept from Ireland:
Using 20-foot shipping containers, Barnwall’s idea provides functional shelter for workers on a construction site offering all the amenities needed to give workers a comfortable place for pause.
It is an ingenious and very well resolved idea for revolutionizing the way we build houses, breaking it down into components that snap together much like an office system.
Materialicio.us also discussed the home, with commentary by Greg La Vardera:
I think it is tremendously clever, and has the characteristics of a truly disruptive technology. It has the potential to change radically the way we build houses.
...now the lots, which come with plans to build, are listed at $295,000 and $275,000Last month's prices: $349,000 and $337,000.
From earlier this week:
Google...announced a new strategic initiative to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal. The newly created initiative, known as RE<C, will focus initially on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other potential breakthrough technologies.
Many prefab companies incorporate solar power and other environmentally friendly features into their housing solutions. eSolar (a Google partner) incorporate prefab features into their solar solutions:
By leveraging established commercial suppliers to mass manufacture thousands of small heliostats, eSolar realizes economy-of-scale benefits at much smaller power plant sizes than traditional solar generation techniques. Our heliostats are designed to fit efficiently into shipping containers to keep transportation costs low, and they are pre-assembled at the factory to minimize on-site labor....
Note: emphasis added
Very interesting: prefab meet solar; solar meet prefab.
Michelle Kaufmann's mkLoft will be used in a new development in Denver. From the Rocky Mountain News:
Denver developers Susan Powers and Chuck Perry are teaming with Kaufmann to put 40 factory-built town houses on 21 acres near Regis University at West 52nd Avenue and Federal Boulevard. The 1,100- to 1,500-square-foot town houses will be built at the All American Homes factory in Milliken, in Weld County, and trucked 60 miles, in sections, to the Denver site for assembly.
Read more about the plans in the full article.
Author: Mary Winter
Publication: Rocky Mountain News
Length: 625 words
Date: October 27, 2007
ZeroHouse is a great concept and for added enjoyment, can be customized with a variety of color and material combinations.
Gizmodo is a fan:
Not only is this Zero House by architect Scott Specht completely green, automatic and self-sufficient, but it looks so badass it could've come out of the movie Clockwork Orange.
CrunchGear also covered the home.
Jetson Green reported on La Maison de Demain, a french prefab concept:
The home is built with three prefabricated modules and is meant to show that green design can be affordable and attractive. An important aspect of the house is the open area in the middle, which could be used as a covered patio to extend the footprint of the home into the natural environment.
The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday appears to be on an extended hiatus?
The Los Angeles middle school expansion project opens next month to some very lucky kids who will enjoy classrooms filled with light, open learning spaces, and the best and healthiest materials. We’re big fans of Jennifer and her Office of Mobile Design here at Inhabitat, and we’re thrilled that her great prefab designs are being successfully applied to educational contexts- what better way to learn and teach than in a wonderful healthy classroom?
If it’s any consolation, they’ve found some land and they’re planning to build a FlatPak on it in Spring ‘08.
The Zerohouse sure fits both my dreams...
This spacious 2-story, 2-bedroom + loft features a double-high ceiling in the living room, creating an open, harmonious environment for reflection and creativity.
The Good Human was impressed:
She has done it again - come out with another stunning example of what a modern prefab can be.
Inhabitat noted the low price of the homes:
Depending on volume and finishes, the typical mkLoft ranges from $130 to $140/sf. This does not include the cost of land nor the permit approval process.
price: ~$500,000 (~$135/sf)
bedrooms: 2 - 3
bathrooms: 2 - 3
And now: tours! From the WIRED blog:
Want to visit? The Wired LivingHome is open to the public Thursday through Sunday until Nov. 19.
For ticket purchasing info and additional tour details, visit the WIRED LivingHome site.
what: WIRED LivingHome tours
when: November 1 - 18, 2007
where: Los Angeles
The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday took a break this week.
Inhabitat wrote about the ASAP House, which we will cover in more depth soon.
ZeroHouse is a 650-square-foot prefabricated house designed to operate autonomously, with no need for utilities or waste connections. It generates its own electrical power, collects and stores rainwater, and processes all waste. Shipped to a site on two flatbed trailers, it can be field-erected in less than a day.
The St. Louis Business Journal discusses EcoUrban:
"EcoUrban Homes is building houses where traditional contractors often choose not to venture.Read the full excerpt for more details. The entire article is only accessible with a subscription.
The newly formed company, headquartered in downtown St. Louis, has embarked on an ambitious plan to eventually put 30 to 40 new "green" modular homes per year into neighborhoods that could use a bit of revitalization...."
Author: Julia M. Johnson
Publication: St. Louis Business Journal
Length: 206 words (excerpt; subscription required for the entire article)
Date: October 29, 2007
The video features some interior views of the house and an interview with Rebecca Woelke, who's in charge of PR for Michelle Kaufmann Designs.
Author: Michael Kanellos
Publication: CNET News
Date: October 2, 2007
I learn new things about the prefab business every day. Altamont Homes is a builder of modular homes throughout the West. The company had representatives at West Coast Green. Also at their booth was a representative from Details, a manufacturer of modular homes.
In the time I've been reading and writing about prefab housing, I haven't fully understood the relationship between those two entities until the relationship was explained to me by Craig Rosenberg of Details.
Basically it works like this: the homeowner goes to a "builder" (in this case, Altamont) and wants to build a house. Altamont shares a number of design options with the homeowner, ranging from small, inexpensive homes, to larger and more finely detailed homes. The home designs they are sharing are sourced from a number of "manufacturers" around the country (in this case Details is one of many that Altamont buys from).
Altamont is responsible for interacting with you, completing site work, securing permits (sometimes that falls to the homeowner), setting the home and completing site work. Details is responsible for the modules that are shipped to your site. The way that Craig Rosenberg from Details explained it to me:
"Some manufacturers supply products like doors or faucets; it just happens in our case that the product we supply is the entire home."
Details designs the homes that they offer to different builders, whether Altamont or another builder. The arrangement allows Altamont to offer a wide range of product choices to their customers. For instance, the Details models are all LEED-certified and highly energy-efficient; they generally end up costing ~$275/sf installed. Altamont offers other, non-LEED options from other manufacturers for less than half that cost.
The key point is that the builder and manufacturer are two different entities, with two different specialities:
The show house was set right in front of San Francisco City Hall, out in the open for all to see. And see it people did. Visitors lined up to tour the home and looked to be waiting upwards of half an hour on Saturday's Homeowner Day (due to the home's size, the show staff were limiting the number of people in at any one time).
While the home was small, around 700 sf, it felt plenty roomy. The home featured a window wall system from NanaWall that opens accordion-style to create a near seamless indoor/outdoor room. The bathroom was luxurious for such a small home. And the ample outdoor living space (decks, patios, courtyards) was a welcome addition.
Some of the features and details that I saw as I toured the house:
All of these add-ons and options push the home out of many folks' price range though. For instance, the NanaWall system runs ~$1,500 per single panel (the mkLotus had xx). My understanding is that the home starts around $150,000, but can venture past $225k with all of the add-ons featured on the show home.
A note worth mentioning, and one repeated throughout the conference: these homes may seem expensive, but much of that is due to their "green" features, from rainwater catchment systems, to solar panels galore.
Jill and Emily at Inhabitat loved the house:
"Above and beyond all the green, however, the house is just a testament to thoughtful, smart design. Every material, system and design choice in the house seems to be thought out, and have purpose. The high ceilings, skylights, gently angled walls, floor to ceiling glass and copious daylight all work to make the 700 sf house feel a lot bigger and more spacious than it actually is."They also uploaded a bunch of photos of the house to Flickr.
CBS 5 San Francisco offered a video report from the home.
With the mkLotus as the star attraction of the show, Michelle Kaufmann had a sort of celebrity aura to her. She spoke a number of times, on topics ranging from the show house to "Women in Green." She shows great enthusiasm for her work (and the work is prolific). The talks focused on the green aspects of the different MK products. Their work is separated into three categories:
I'll share further info on a number of developments and new products from MKD in the coming weeks.
More West Coast Green coverage in the coming days.
From ABC 7 News in San Francisco: a live report earlier this week showed the near-complete house.
"This is a green house which aims to teach you how to be environmentally friendly in your home. Who knew that it could be so stylish? This is a modular home.The San Francisco Bay Guardian offered up a quirky article about the home and the show:
It has to be the most stylish one on the planet. It's only 725 square feet -- that's part of the message -- to be green, you don't need to build so big. Since it's modular, you can buy other pieces and add on to it."
"Builders plopped down the 800-square-foot structure in just a day....the one-bedroom house costs a mere $199 per square foot, and that's with all the fancy fixings like a stereo system and rosewood floors.The San Jose Mercury News wrote:
The home was dubbed the mkLotus house by its designer, Michelle Kaufman Designs. The exterior is smart and sleek, with double-paned, floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding the living room and sustainably grown red balau wood and slabs of fly-ash concrete siding the back half....
According to XtremeHome CEO Tim Schmidt, without all the extras, an mkLotus could cost as little as $64,000, and he can have one good to go in less than six months."
"If building an eco-friendly house is a stretch, how about a green in-law cottage?More reports about the show in the coming days.
[The] house...'was designed as an oasis,' Kaufmann says. 'It can be perfect for a vacation home, or a home where you feel like you're on vacation.'
The popularity of the two- to four-bedroom Glidehouse brought countless inquiries for in-law units and cottages, said Rebecca Woelke, spokeswoman for Michelle Kaufmann Designs.
'We wanted to give clients a different type of design in a one-bedroom layout,' Woelke said, something that 'opens entire living spaces to the outdoors and brings the outdoors in.' To do that, mkLotus' signature feature is its NanaWalls, floor-to-ceiling glass doors in the living room that fold up like an accordion to welcome nature into the home. 'This house blurs the boundary between the interior and exterior.'"
West Coast Green is "America's largest residential green building conference". September 20-21 are limited to building professionals, but the general public is invited for September 22s "Homeowner Day":
"West Coast Green will host community leaders and visionaries, such as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Hollywood actor Ed Begly Jr., environmental/civil rights leader Van Jones and many others. Homeowners looking to design and build a new, energy-efficient green home, or those looking to upgrade the efficiency of their existing homes, will benefit from walking the tradeshow floor, abounding with hundreds of products and services to build, remodel, power, insulate, clean, furnish and finance their green homes."
where: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, CA
when: September 20-22, 2007
registration: $25 ($35 at the door) for Homeowner Day, September 22. $325/day for full conference access.
features: mkLotus show home; speakers Allison Arieff (former editor of Dwell magazine), Steve Glenn, Sheri Koones, and Michelle Kaufmann; over 100 green construction product vendors
"Although there is currently a 6 month waiting list, this looks like a very nice alternative to some of the more expensive prefab homes on the market."
The Dwell on Design conference is this weekend in San Francisco.
We won't be there, but here's who will:
We heard from Alchemy Architects:
"Alchemy Architects will be at Dwell on Design 2007 with a weeHouse to 'tour'. Amazing, but we had a CA client who's weeHouse is just being finished...so it'll stop in San Fran on its way to San Diego. It's a very exciting opportunity for people who are interested in a weeHouse to see a weeHouse. We'll be in the outdoor, prefab section."
Some prefab-specific events that will be worth checking out:
what: Dwell on Design conference
where: Concourse Exhibition Center, San Francisco, CA
when: September 14-16, 2007
sponsor: Dwell Magazine
registration: $20 for Exhibition Only pass, September 15-16. $895 for full conference and exhibition passport.
features: over 80 exhibitors and vendors
One gripe: I wish the webcam shots were all from a wider angle to show the big picture.
Treehugger's been watching:
"...sometimes watching paint dry is more exciting but then some big module flies in front of the camera."
Jetson Green also tuned in:
"All the main parts are supposed to be complete by September 7, and we'll be able to get a pretty good picture of what the final home will look like."
Curbed LA mentioned the home last Tuesday.
"It has three sides of glass and wrap-around decks with a loft-like communal space upstairs that contains the kitchen, dining room, and living room.The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday shared the designs of JASONOAH Design Build a company building custom-designed homes:
The home cost $173 a square foot. Total construction cost was $400,000 including site work, decks, septic and well."
"They are currently building a prototype home and hope to have the kits available very soon. I am excited to see the completed house and hope these kits come on the market priced as stated, as I think it will open up a great option for those not able to spend $400,000 on a prefab house."
"MDesign's patented Mcube modular prefab system is a gorgeous, flexible, solar-powered, and stunningly affordable housing option that exemplifies the benefits of prefabricated building. The system is based on a translucent 10'-cube module which can be stacked in multiple floors and units for residential and commercial purposes. Made from concrete, steel, and luminous fiberglass daylighting wall panels, the system can be fully erected in 90 days at a cost starting at $100 per square foot! (Yes $100 a foot!). Considering how expensive most sleek SoCal prefab systems seem to be - this is a price tag that really got our attention."
CNET has released a video (3:14) showing the mkLotus being built in the XtremeHomes factory. CEO Tim Schmidt mentions a key advantage of factory-built homes: reduced construction time with employees rather than contractors. Michelle Kaufmann discusses the green features and demonstrates the NanaWall.
(Scott adds two gripes: CNET's video player is flaky, and the pre-roll ad is annoying.)
Author: Michael Kanellos
Publication: CNET News
Date: August 30, 2007
"We saw the fully installed folding glass panels, which are called Nanawalls...three sides of the living-dining room. They silently glide away to unite inside and outside: this is how to live large in a small space."
"I love this house. [Its] sleek modern lines, affordability and 'green-ness' make it a good option for those looking for a modern prefab house."
"XtremeHomes provides a diverse array of architectural styles from ultra-modern to highly detailed alpine homes. Our product offerings address a variety of consumers with our entry level Neighborhood Series™, to an XtremeCustom™ home or a house from one of our Signature Series™ architects. Through its ongoing research and development, XtremeHomes focuses on ways to produce homes with less environmental impact, that are more energy efficient, are healthier and of higher quality. XtremeHomes, an Energy Star® partner, endeavors to build all of its houses to Energy Star®, LEED® and Build It Green® standards."
XtremeHomes will be a part of the West Coast Green building conference in September.
"The DIY Zigloo Domestique integrates shipping containers, personal and sustainable touches, and lots of hard work. Keith Dewey...designed, built, and documented the construction of his Zigloo Domestique home that epitomizes accessible, green, reclaimed, yet comfortable contemporary prefab architecture....The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday discovered A Prefab Project and likes it as much as we do:
The home is located in Fernwood, one of Victoria's oldest and funkiest areas, and proves that shipping containers are more than just modules for cargo transport or emergency housing. The designer has done a wonderful job of documenting the entire design process, from initial plans to delivery of the containers and final construction and furnishing. The project spans almost two years, and the final residence consists of 8 containers, 1800 square feet, and 3 stories of homey prefab space. Keith's family home design is a great example of shipping containers and prefab techniques as a viable and accessible building approach for just about anyone."
"The blog was started back in December of 2006 with discussions about design and construction, and if you go back and read through the entire thing it is quite a journey....Greenerati anticipates the arrival of the mkLotus at the West Coast Green building conference:
I for one cannot wait to see what it looks like all complete and ready to go!"
"It won't solve the housing problem here in the City but when West Coast Green occurs next month attendees will get a chance to tour a 'zero energy' Green home right smack in the Civic Center across from City Hall. Yes, it's a prefabricated house but not that nasty 'Prefab' often associated with temporary replacement for housing during and after WWII."
Green Options posted on the eco-friendliness of modular and prefab construction:
"Prefabrication and Modularity are new eco buzzwords on the menu this year. From homes to furniture, designers are beginning to employ new methods of construction and transportation to cut waste and energy consumption, ensure safety, and achieve greater overall methods of sustainability."
Like the Prefabrication Laboratory and Studio 804, the MiSo* House is a university-based prefab project. Michigan Solar House (MiSo*) "is an interdisciplinary endeavor at the University of Michigan incorporating students, faculty and staff from" a number of the different departments.
"The architecture of MiSo* reinterprets the single family dwelling to reflect a changing balance of ecological and technological choices that strive to integrate sustainable design within a contemporary lifestyle. The entry to the 2005 Solar Energy Decathlon functions as a working prototype of a portable, modular, and sustainable, solar powered dwelling and its design and construction are considered with future mass production in mind....The University of Michigan page for the house features additional photos of the construction.
The MiSo product line can cater towards any size family. Therefore, reproducible parts are essential to the success of MiSo. The house on the mall will be built of five modules, three interior and two end, all pre-assembled and simply connected on site.
The modular design of the house components within the MiSo* system provide a vast set of combinations that can effectively assemble a house of any size from 400 sq ft upwards."
(Hat tip: Green Options)
"We often get comments about how difficult it would be to live in some of the Prefab Friday homes that we have featured, and none have received more criticism than the Micro Compact Home (m-ch)...But the proof is in the pudding, and in 2006, the Technical University of Munich in Germany installed a small village of seven of these homes for six students and a professor to live in for a full year."
"It's the sort of house that both myself and my husband would love - me the green aspects and him the techy-gadgets. Although we wouldn't need as much room or as many bathrooms.The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday covered the iT House from Taalman Koch:
The Wired Home is described as a modernist home in an exclusive enclave of Los Angeles that allows luxury and the environment to live together in harmony.
Sounds pretty cool huh?"
"...it sure is a gorgeous example of what can be done with metal and glass."
"Now she's designed a prefab that's as green as possible. I think it's terrific. Note the sod roof, the way accordion doors open entire walls to expand the living space, the sunshades, and the photovoltaic panels."The post also confirms that the house will be showcased outside San Francisco City Hall during the West Coast Green building conference.
"Michelle Kauffman is known for her modern, livable, green, air and light-filled prefab designs, and the mkLotus is no exception. The modular construction allows for customization and flexibility, while sliding doors allow residents to open up their house to the elements....We can't wait to see the real thing this fall at West Coast Green!"(We covered this Building Conference a few days ago.)
mkLotus is a new prefab concept from Michelle Kaufmann Designs that will debut at the West Coast Green home show. The mkLotus™ modular home is built by XtremeHomes™. "The house features: a living roof, LED lighting, innovative green building materials, indoor & outdoor living." Further details can be found on the mkLotus showhouse page.
Jetson Green is excited about seeing the mkLotus:
"I'm wanting to visit the conference just to see this home and participate in what's going to be the future of residential real estate."
designer: Michelle Kaufmann Designs
size: 672sf - 1,400sf
br: 1 - 2
West Coast Green: Residential Building Conference + Expo "is a feast of innovations, ideas and opportunities designed to expand your business, widen your vision, and stimulate your thinking with the latest, best practices and key players in green building."
On the prefab front:
what: West Coast Green Show
where: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, CA
when: September 20-22, 2007
registration: $25 ($35 at the door) for Homeowner Day, September 22. $245/day before July 31, $325/day after July 31 for full conference access.
features: mkLotus show home; speakers Allison Arieff (former editor of Dwell magazine), Steve Glenn, Sheri Koones, and Michelle Kaufmann; over 100 green construction product vendors
The Sierra Club's Sierra Magazine covers a familiar architect:
"Michelle Kaufmann believes that buying an environmentally friendly home should be as simple as ordering a pair of sneakers. Sitting at her laptop in her Oakland, California, office, the architect goes to the Nike Web site, chooses a shoe, and clicks a few buttons. Moments later her customized sneakers are ready for review: white with orange laces and an orange swoosh, the initials "MK" stitched on the tongue..."
Read the full article to see how Michelle Kaufmann Designs is working to achieve this goal. Don't miss this bit of good news:
"While her first customers tended to fit the stereotype of the Prius-driving, NPR-listening eco-consumer, Kaufmann is increasingly fielding inquiries from people who just want an attractive, affordable house."
Title: Innovators: The Henry Ford of Green Homes
Author: Dashka Slater
Publication: Sierra Magazine
Length: 850 words
Issue: July/August 2007
"Recipe for a good idea:Also worth checking out: the miniHome blog, miniHomage.
Combine all of the above into a package easily deliverable by truck anywhere in North America, that can set up on arrival in less than an hour."
size: 350 sf
bedrooms: sleeps 5
price: starts at $107,460 ($307/sf ++)
how: SIPs, steel frame undercarriage
finish level: complete, inside and out, including mechanical systems
features/finishes: adjustable roof canopy, commercial grade rubber flooring, stainless steel kitchen, fabric blinds, sleeping loft
available: Canada, U.S.
options/extras: wind turbine, solar panels, composting toilet, wood flooring, carpet tile, custom sofa, dressers, television
warranty: 1 year
more info: brochure (pdf)
WIRED and LivingHomes have collaborated on the green prefab dream home that "will serve as an example of how people can effectively balance green living with high technology and high design."
"Consistent with its focus on sustainable design, LivingHomes and WIRED are deconstructing rather than demolishing the property's existing house, reducing the amount of building materials sent to landfill. Working with The Reuse People, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to keeping usable building materials out of landfills, interior materials will be sent to the Habitat for Humanity Store for re-use, while the framing is being transported to Mexico where it will be used for low-income construction....Deconstruction is currently underway. Installation is slated for August 2007 and only takes one day."
Jetson Green is enthusiastic:
"At a price of $300 /sf, the WIRED LivingHome is going to be an incredible residence with the best in green + modern + technology. I can't wait to visit."
Treehugger calls it "a catalog of the best green eye candy that money can buy."
Future House Now adds:
"I tend to advocate smaller homes and affordability for regular families, but I'm not about to fire any criticism at the project, because it is meant to be a showcase house, and all showcase houses are top end....I think we'll see a lot of neat stuff come out of this project."
name: WIRED LivingHome by Ray Kappe
size: 4,057 sf
price: $4 million ($300/sf)
method: full modules
assembly on-site: 1 day
features: LEED certified, "tricked out" game room, 4 kW solar system
for sale: late 2007/early 2008
more info: press release (PDF)
"The house is composed entirely of off-site fabricated elements and ready-made components, assembled from the platform up in less than six weeks....The aluminum scaffold system, coupled with an array of connectors, provide both the structural frame and the means to connect cartridges, blocks and equipment to that frame with only the aid of a wrench.Integration of utilities into the home's "smart cartridges" sets the Loblolly apart. The full-module builders, like Hive Modular, Marmol Radziner, and Alchemy Architects, integrate utilities into multi-room modules that are shipped to the site near-complete. But the companies delivering flat-packed products, like the LV Series homes from Rocio Romero, require on-site work to incorporate utilities and finishes. The SIPs or stud-framed panels they ship generally incorporate little more than structure and insulation.
The assembly process begins with off-site fabricated floor and ceiling panels, termed 'smart cartridges.' They distribute radiant heating, hot and cold water, waste water, ventilation, and electricity through the house. Fully integrated bathroom and mechanical room modules are lifted into position. Exterior wall panels containing structure, insulation, windows, interior finishes and the exterior wood rain screen complete the cladding."
For the Loblolly House, this complete prefabrication was necessary to avoid large amounts of work on the sensitive site. The process even works in reverse:
"Just as the components may be assembled at the site swiftly with a wrench, so may they be disassembled swiftly, and most importantly, whole....It is a vision in which our architecture, even as it is disassembled at some unknown moment, can be relocated and reassembled in new ways from reclaimed parts."
Complementing the designs of Ray Kappe and David Hertz, LivingHomes plans to sell homes based on the system used in the Loblolly House. Also worth noting: Bosch produces the structural frame used for the Loblolly House and the TK iT House.
name: Loblolly House
size: 2,200 sf
price: not yet for sale
method: flat-pak, with utilities incorporated into panels
(Hat tip: Philly.com)
EcoUrban is a new prefab home builder based in St. Louis. Owner Jay Swoboda keeps track of the company's home projects in a blog.
"After what felt like decades of anticipation and wait, it took just six days after the first pieces of wood were nailed together in the factory for the units to be delivered. Our units arrived at 10 AM this morning and the 60 Ton crane that lifted them into place was packed up and gone by 2 PM. We had a nice crowd gather to watch the four "boxes" come together and by the end of the day we were weather tight and secure."
Currently, the company offers a single 1,600sf floorplan, but "if you are passionate about an EcoUrban Home and not crazy about our floor plan then we will passionately find a floor plan to match you and your lifestyle."
With a focus on green, it's no surprise that EcoUrban "is aiming for LEED Silver certification, at the very least, for all future homes."
size: 1,600-1,850 sf
price: $200,000 - $279,900
features: 8'/9' ceilings, Low-E windows, LEED certified
(Hat tip: Jetson Green.)
"The Lighthouse is a two bedroom, two and a half storey house, with a floor area of about 100m2 [~ 1,076sf]. It does some things just a bit differently from the standard housing model such as locating all the sleeping areas at ground level. This allows the living areas to be located at the top, where they can make use of most of the natural light coming in through the windows and skylights. The curved roof sweeps down providing the living areas with a double height ceiling, making the occupant feel as though they are in a generous open-plan house, and concealing the rather tight and compact geometry of the house."
"Ever since we saw that this house was being built just a short ways from here, we have driven by it a bunch of times to marvel at it. This house is beautiful if nothing else..."
(Yes, we cheated. We posted this on Monday but set the date to Saturday consistent with our "this week" series.)
We've reported on disaster relief housing before. Prefab methods are ideally suited for quick, cheap housing in far flung, resource-starved areas. An organization named CalEarth (California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture) has developed a method of home building that requires little more than the earth present at a homesite.
CalEarth's designs are based on a proprietary product called Superadobe Earthbags. The bags come in widths ranging from 12" to 26" and can be ordered up to a mile long. Combined with barbed-wire and earth from the site, the bags create super-strong structures:
"To build simple emergency and safe structures in our backyards, to give us maximum safety with minimum environmental impact, we must choose natural materials and, like nature itself, build with minimum materials to create maximum space, like a beehive or a sea shell. The strongest structures in nature which work in tune with gravity, friction, minimum exposure and maximum compression, are arches, domes and vault forms. And they can be easily learned and utilize the most available material on earth: Earth."
CalEarth has experimented with a number of designs and implementations using Superadobe, ranging from the Eco-Dome house, aka the "Moon Cocoon", to emergency shelters. Features of the Eco-Dome include:
(Hat tip: Inhabitat shared a bunch of photos and thoughts on the design last week.)
"What you see is the sum total of all waste produced so far. In case you didn't know, this is about a 75% reduction in waste from the typical home."
The BRE Group is a British "research, consultancy, training, testing and certification organisation delivering sustainability and innovation across the built environment and beyond." They reported this week on the Osbourne demonstration house, built from SIPs:
"The Osborne demonstration house pushes the boundaries of sustainable affordable housing and supply chain integration. It was constructed in one and a half days using the Jabhouse Structural Insulated Panel System (SIPs)...The house uses the latest in modern methods of construction with:
The house needs two thirds less energy for heating and cooling than a house constructed to 2006 Building Regulations."
• a zinc and slate clad cassette roof that requires no trusses or rafters
• off-site manufactured bathroom pod and door sets
• a plug-together wiring system
• timber I-beam floor joists.
Similar to SIPs, the Thermomass Building Insulation System consists of two layers of modified concrete with styrofoam between. The system is flexible enough to be "used in site-cast tilt-up, plant precast, modular precast, tunnel form and poured-in-place concrete panels and walls." The site-cast tilt-up method moves the process out of the factory, allowing rapid construction on site.
Architects John Dwyer & Jeff Gallo selected the energy-efficient Thermomass walls to help their 5IVE house achieve LEED Platinum certification:
"Using a technology developed by DOW, the walls will act as a thermal mass giving them a rating of R-30. By employing prefabrication, we were also able to control the quality of the finish on the concrete."
The walls for the 5IVE home are being produced by a company called Forecast Concrete. The benefits of factory precast concrete walls include:
I've been reading more about Yurts, and I'm beginning to be won over.
The Yurt Foundation lays out the key advantages:
"The roof structure, with its compression ring and tension band, is an amazing architectural design requiring no internal support system, thereby leaving the yurt open and spacious inside....Want to look inside? Pacific Yurts, Inc. features a virtual tour. (Quicktime required: drag your mouse left or right to swivel the camera around in a circle. If you zoom in, you can also move up and down a bit.)
Yurts are special because they are portable. Central Asian nomads put their gers up in an hour or less. Modern canvas yurts can be set up in a day. To have a shelter that can be put up quickly and then taken down and moved as one's situation changes is a distinct advantage in our transient culture."
"In terms of architectural features, Lot-ek has created a system that defies the rigidity of an industrial shipping container, providing surprising flexibility in both size and functions. The CHK system comes in two different series- Compact and Loft, and boasts 8 x 8 floor-to-ceiling windows, built-in closets, and wood floors. The best part is its expansion possibilities- regardless of the configuration, it's easy to add on another container to accommodate a home office (or more family members) down the line."
"John from Res4 called yesterday to say that the factory got the wrong size floor trusses....The factory had apparently framed all the walls and was ready to begin the floor when [they] realized the webbed trusses were too short; so now they're stuck. If they wait for new trusses to arrive, this spot in the assembly line is stuck - no work for the factory. So Jason called me to basically say please allow us to use 2x12s as trusses so we can keep working as scheduled..."
One of the many LiveModern blogs featured some good photos of a SIP-based project throughout the framing process.
Wired shows off a really cool ultra-compact dwelling, available in Europe.
"I've been doing some house hunting and I came across this modern prefabricated home in Sunset Magazine. I think its really cool how they are making this house using recycled materials, you can add solar panels really easily, the living room has a wall that folds so that your room extends to the patio. Its made to have good ventilation and where they could they used recycled materials.The Nashua Telegraph reran an article from the Sacramento Bee about the changing perception of 'prefab':
Then my husband showed me this prefab (in Wired magazine) called the 'Loblolly House' and I thought it was just gorgeous."
"Factory-built housing is touting environmental benefits and a fresh look to win a new generation of buyers as the industry continues to fight an image of cheap design and endure the same housing slowdown pummeling conventional home builders."
"To me, this is a no-brainer. If I were out of college and established in business, I'd plop down a million in a heartbeat just to get the DH1 built and use it as a vacation home (at a minimum). I'd buy it for the joy of having one of the greenest prefabs in the country and I'd let all my friends stay in it."And Inhabitat pointed out that the Ray Kappe LivingHome appeared on the AIA/COTE list of the top ten green buildings.
I've been seeing posts around the blogosphere (e.g. on Jetson Green) about the Sundance Channel's new TV series Big Ideas for a Small Planet. The series focuses on "the forward-thinking designers, products, and processes that are on the leading edge of a new green world." The second episode, Build, was about different green building techniques and one section, 'prefab', featured Michelle Kaufmann.
The episodes are available for download from iTunes for $1.99 each. The Build episode is definitely worth a watch, at least for a view inside the Michelle Kaufmann factory.
After the original competition for the Dwell Home was received with so much enthusiasm, Dwell hosted another competition for the Dwell Home II:
"Sustainable building technologies are now part of the design guidelines for everyone from the federal government to private industry. To help push home design in the same direction, Dwell invited five of Los Angeles's top firms to create a sustainable single-family home in Los Angeles."
While the competition didn't require the home to be a prefab design, investigations into green building techniques led the winning architects, Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena, to choose a panelized concrete product, similar to a SIP:
"North Hollywood-based Green Sandwich Technologies. Green Sandwich manufactures what they describe as 'completely engineered structural concrete insulating panels (SCIPs).' The company goes on to state that their 'Green Sandwich Building System is the "greenest" structural building product available in the United States,' with every aspect of the system, from panel manufacturing to panel erection, engineered so the products generate the least amount of waste, fuel consumption, and environmental disruption."The panelized system is much less pre-fab than some of the modular methods out there, but some characteristics are worth noting:
• integrated utility chases
• can be built in approximately half the time of conventional stick-built construction
• an unlimited number of finishes and design configurations
• transfer about 66% less noise than wood-frame or steel-framed walls See the company's website for more detailed information on the system.
The competition took place in 2004; since then, the homeowners and Escher GuneWardena have been finalizing the design and construction methods as well as navigating the complicated permitting process:
"Deciding to build a home is usually just the beginning of a bureaucratic maze of city offices, inspectors, and paperwork. Due to the Dwell Home II's unique location, the land falls under the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission, an agency established to 'protect public beach access, wetlands, wildlife on land and in the seas, water quality, scenic vistas, and coastal tourism.'"
Further articles about the house and its progress can be found on Dwell's site.
Michelle Kaufmann Designs has been one of the stars of the prefab movement since designing the Glidehouse for Sunset Magazine in 2004. The company emphasizes the greenness of its homes and has even built a green factory, mkConstructs, to produce prefab homes. I got some details from Rebecca Woelke, Director of Media Relations:
Do you have many built homes or homes under construction?
We have 15 completed homes, with 2 scheduled for completion by the end of June, and a multi-unit development (San Leandro) is expected to be completed this fall. We are working on 75+ projects, which include single-family residences and MK Communities.
What is mkConstructs?
mkConstructs is...key to our "prenewable" mission: a modern blending of prefabricated systems and renewable resources. mkConstructs is 100% committed to building thoughtful, sustainable designs.
Why did you open your own factory?
The addition of mkConstructs benefits our clients by further streamlining the construction process while providing more predictability of costs and timeframes for home construction. mkConstructs is located in the state of Washington, offering efficiencies with close proximity to many of our material sources and distribution centers. This factory will build homes for California, Washington, Oregon.
What do your homes cost? What does the price include?
In most areas, construction costs are between $200/sf and $275/sf for MKD pre-designed homes, and $275/sf - $400/sf for Custom Projects (all known costs included after permits are let). This does not include the cost of land. For more complex sites and for sites in high-cost areas such as the greater San Francisco area and Los Angeles, the total construction costs will most likely be higher. The actual project cost will depend on many factors unique to our clients MKD Home and building site.
There are both standard models and the custom option on your website. What have customers been most interested in? Do you have any numbers to show how many customers went custom vs. standard?
Of our current projects, 20% of them are custom. The balance of our current projects are pre-designed MKD Homes, which are to be built in various locations in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.
What are some of the advantages of your prefab system?
Are there any common misconceptions about prefab that you'd like to comment on?
One common misconception I have noticed is how people define "prefab." Among the many classifications of prefabricated homes are modular homes, manufactured homes, and mobile homes. Each of these home types is very different. Although they are all built in a factory, they are built to different building codes, with modular construction at the highest construction/quality level. Many city and county zoning ordinances restrict the locating of manufactured/mobile homes to limited areas, whereas modular homes are more widely accepted. Michelle Kaufmann Designed homes are high-quality, high-performance homes that are built in a factory - not to be confused with "manufactured" or "mobile" homes!
(This interview has been edited for space; it's not an exact transcript.)
Frustrated Inhabitat reader Bob Ellenberg wrote to the site commenting on the "green" qualities of many prefab homes; they decided to post his critique. The essay sparked posts on a number of other blogs, as well as numerous comments to the original post. Some of Bob's original points:
"I don't want to pick on prefab construction, as I do quite a bit of it myself as a design/builder and there are certainly many aspects of it that can be 'green.' But some of the claims I see being made relative to overall sustainability of prefab houses are overstated and might even be considered 'Green-Washing'."Specifically, he cited three areas where prefab homes might not exactly be 'green':
"Material Waste - Standardized materials are ordered by on-site builders and prefab factories alike. In fact, an on site builder will usually order the different lengths of lumber he needs for one particular job that produce the least amount of waste....On site can be as 'green' in scrapping out material as a factory and a factory can be just as wasteful. The real question is how 'green' the approach is of the people running the show.Some of the comments to the Inhabitat post: Lloyd Alter said:
"Over-Engineering - Factory produced modular homes often require more material than site-built homes, and this is definitely not green....With a factory built house, you have to lift a large module, load it on a truck, haul it down the road and set it with a crane. Because all of these operations concentrate the load on specific points instead of it being spread as it is over a foundation or a slab, the support system must be considerably overbuilt.
"Carbon Cost of Shipping - Shipping modular homes definitely adds to the carbon footprint as well. Truck loads of materials go to local suppliers, travel short distances to site built homes and stay there. Truck loads of materials go to factories, are built into houses and then travel hundreds of miles on oversized trucks....Then the crane which gets about 2-3 mpg travels to the job site to set the house and unless you are in a major city they could end up coming a long way."
"Studies in the Canadian construction industry have shown that as much as 30% of materials are wasted through theft, water damage, or offcuts being tossed in the dumpster. In a prefab factory, nothing is stolen, nothing is thrown out, even the sawdust is used for heating."Chuck added:
"Having acted as my own contractor to have a timber frame, enclosed with structural insulated panels, house built, it occurs to me that the factory could be brought to the jobsite with a modification of this method of construction. Perhaps we need to borrow the best method form factory and on-the-job techniques, instead of thinking either-or."User andrew k compared prefab building techniques to site-built in Arizona:
"Hailing from a city that is completely focused on production housing (Phoenix) I can say that prefab must be very,very bad before it can compare with the sprawl of today's suburbia. Most of the skilled labor in the Phoenix area drive substantial distances to the jobsites, and while there, create substantial dust problems. Even in a subdivision where there are two homes in similar stages of construction directly next to each other, material waste is fairly staggering, it's common to see each structure with its own dumpster. Combine material theft into the mix, and the whole process is very, very unsustainable."
Philip Proefrock added his thoughts on the matter at Green Options:
"In and of itself, pre-fab is not automatically "green." When done well, it can be a method that leads to a better constructed home, including one that uses fewer materials and operates more efficiently (meaning less carbon footprint over the building's lifetime, a much larger chunk of its carbon footprint to consider than its construction). In green building, we try to take a look at the larger picture, rather than only focusing on the final building alone. Life cycle issues, and the methods and processes all contribute to making a building green. It's the execution of the concept, and not the idea itself, that makes or breaks a prefab as a greener building."
And, Lloyd Alter of Treehugger posted his two cents:
"Like any building, prefab is as green as its builders want it to be....Prefab holds the promise of delivering a greener home in less time and perhaps even less money, but it is only as green as the designer and the builder."
Many prefab vendors cite the "greenness" of their home models as a selling point. What exactly makes a home "green" and what is LEED certification?
According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC):
"...the residential sector accounts for 22% of the total energy consumed in the US and 74% of the water. Indoor air pollutants can often be four to five times higher than outdoor levels. Twenty-one percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are contributed by the residential sector....The USGBC has developed an objective rating system which quantifies these "green" characteristics:
Green home building addresses these issues by promoting the design and construction of homes that have much higher performance levels than conventional homes....Generally, green homes are healthier, more comfortable, more durable, and more energy efficient....
Green homes rely upon established and proven design features and technologies that do not have a significantly large cost. Many green measures will reduce long term costs, particularly those features that involve energy and water efficiency. In many cases, these reductions in operating costs will more than offset the additional up-front costs of a green home."
"The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings' performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality."
The LEED rating system scores a home on a 109 point scale and assigns a rating of certified (30 points minimum), silver (50 points minimum), gold (70 points minimum) or platinum (90 points minimum). The USGBC explains that "there are 36 topic areas included in the LEED for Homes Rating System. Each topic area has a unique intent or goal." These goals include:
As of this post, only LivingHomes' prefab model has achieved LEED certification, with a platinum rating (91 points). LivingHomes' website explains:
"As a company, we're committed to building homes that are as healthy as possible, and that minimize their "ecological footprint" with respect to the resources they use for their construction, operation and eventual decommission. Homes built using traditional stick methods can be very unhealthy and extremely resource intensive. In contrast, our homes use sustainable, healthier building materials, as well as energy-efficient environmental systems and products."Further explanation of the LEED certification of LivingHomes' models can be found on the company website.