June 9th, 2009
Written by Susan Kraemer, courtesy of Green Building Elements.com
Steel is just about the most recyclable building material on earth. You could be well reading this in an office building built with steel originally smelted from iron in Julius Caesar’s day.
So it makes good green sense to build eco prefab houses with steel…
Steel does not spread fire. Building with steel allows for a lighter load, so it does not require a huge concrete foundation. Making concrete is one of the most carbon intensive building industries there are, producing the heaviest carbon footprint.
And steel framing makes for construction simplicity: these homes are able to be erected by hand and do not require welding, special torque tools or specialized inspections. This allows an entire house to be framed and enclosed in less than five days.
Click here to read the rest of this article and see more photos.
Click here to learn more about other types of green prefab houses.
Popularity: 12% [?]
May 6th, 2009
Warren Buffett isn’t the world’s second richest man for nothing. He has an unsurpassed knack for picking good companies in strong industries at the right price. Most things he’s touched have turned into gold. So it’s exciting to see that a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary called Clayton Homes has just launched a line of green prefab homes (called the i-house) that start at under $75,000 (or about $105 / square foot) excluding site costs and shipping. Clayton Homes is one of the largest manufactured housing companies in the world, having produced over 1.5 million units since 1934. They’ll clearly get the manufacturing, financing and logistics right, but can they deliver the amenities, materials and compelling designs that prospective green homeowners have come to expect from green prefab?
The first models are quite promising. Even the base version comes with a lengthy list of standard green features, including:
- Well insulated exterior walls, floor and roof (R-21, R-30 and R-30 respectively)
- Andersen low-e windows
- Metal roof designed for rainwater collection
- No-VOC paint
- High efficiency heat pump
- Dual-flush toilets
If that’s not green enough for you, then you can pick from a long list of sustainable options that includes:
- Two to four kilowatts of solar PV panels;
- Bamboo flooring;
- Tankless water heaters
- Energy Star appliances
You obviously won’t get a LEED Platinum rating on your new i-house, but you will get a very low-energy and reasonably green home at a great price point.
The i-house website has an easy-to-use configurator that allows you to create a customized home and view pricing for options and delivery in your area.
Via Jetson Green
Popularity: 10% [?]
April 2nd, 2009
For a few days last week, a rustic green cabin popped up in the middle of a metropolis. Behind the iconic Pacific Design Center and in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art in West Hollywood, designers and architects walked in and out of the HOM 1 manufactured home, taking a close look at the cork floors, FSC-certified walnut wood beds, and recycled glass-and-aluminum lamps.
HOM 1, the $235,000, 1000-square-foot, 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom modular home designed by KAA Design Group, was on display as part of WESTWEEK 2009: The Business of Design, a big annual symposium for the design world. Although the model drew a crowd in the city, the HOM 1’s intended as an escape home: “HOM is about living outdoors and in, with a close connection to nature,” declares the HOM website.
The modular home combines modern design with a rustic outdoorsy feel. Buy a HOM 1, and it’ll arrive 90% assembled as a single unit, fully equipped with the latest kitchen appliances, plumbing fixtures, and energy-efficient washer and dryer. According to HOM, the streamlined process of making this modular home means less wasted energy, construction waste, and transportation emissions.
Since HOM also makes eco-friendly furniture and accessories — all of which are designed to last a long, long time — you could get your HOM 1 fully furnished too. Then you can relax on your Wima Ottoman — made of FSC-certified ipe wood, turn on your Akira pendant lamp — made with 100% organic linen, FSC-certified walnut and recycled aluminum, creating the perfect relaxing setting for reading Thoreau’s Walden.
To see many other fine examples of green prefab homes, click here.
Popularity: 15% [?]
March 13th, 2009
Our journeys through the green modular landscape often take us to the big cities of America. That’s not surprising, for that’s where you find the high densities of green architects / builders, green consumers and manufacturing plants that really make a prefab company sing. Recently, though, we came across a prefab company from rural West Virginia that will give any of its urban counterparts a real run for their money: Eco Structures, out of Maidsville, West Virginia.
Eco Structures is the brainchild of John Garlow, who has been building timber frame homes and using structural insulated panels (SIPS) out of his own workshop since the late 1970s. Several years ago, when it became clear that the green prefab housing market was ripe for liftoff, he decided to put his many years of prefabrication expertise to use with a new “green” twist. He designed and built a prototype modular Eco Structure on his own property and a new company was born.
The Eco Structure homes are targeted for LEED Platinum certification by the USGBC (process under way), and they come in 450 square foot modules that can be assembled in various configurations according to a client’s needs. Some of the more innovative elements of the Eco Structure system:
- Passive Solar and Ventilation Design. Almost all of the home’s heating, cooling and hot water is provided via smart use of passive solar design. The south side is primarily glass, and awnings and decks provide shade in the summer but allow sunlight in during the winter. Exterior air is drawn in through large pipes buried in the ground, which warms it in the winter and cools it in the summer.
- High Efficiency Building Envelope. The home’s exterior walls and roof are all made out of SIPS that attain insulation levels of R-36 to R-46 and meet the latest in energy codes across the country. Windows are all quad-paned - energy-efficient dual-pane windows are combined to surround a layer of inert gas, offering maximum efficiency.
- Rainwater Harvesting and Water Efficiency. In John’s prototype, rainwater is filtered to drinking water standards and stored in a 2,400 gallon cistern. The system provides nearly 100% of the home’s fresh water demand. The prototype also employs graywater recycling and composting toilets (although these might not be to code in all jurisdictions).
- Advanced Home Automation System. A home automation system made by Home Automation, Inc. controls all of the energy, security, smoke detection and home entertainment systems in the house, and can be configured and monitored over the Internet.
- Solar Thermal and Radiant Heating System. Water is heated via two separate solar thermal systems (one on the roof, one embedded in a vertical wall) and then stored in an in-home tank. Hot water goes to both fixtures and an in-floor radiant heating system. In the prototype, the radiant system is also connected to a backup wood-fired boiler.
(Click here for more information on other green building components and systems.)
Clearly, some of these elements aren’t appropriate for all settings. Each base module can be configured with any of the various options above, depending on client needs and local permitting standards. The 450 square foot modules are easy to transport, so Eco Structures can serve most of the Eastern and Southern US. And, they are compatible with pier foundation systems, so you don’t necessarily need a crane to move them into place. The target price (confirmed in the prototype) for an Eco Structure home is approximately $150 - $175 per square foot.
Popularity: 7% [?]
February 14th, 2009
If you are interested in green architecture then please spend a moment welcoming GreenPods on to the market. These are wonderful, small, highly eco-smart dwellings.
GreenPod Developmentis based in Washington and they seek to design and construct affordable, sustainable, modular homes. At right you see one of their “SoloPods”, but the also have other designs that are equally compelling. Below you see the model called the “Floating Pod.”
The Pod designs range from 300 to 800 square feet. But if you need additional square footage, the Pods can be joined or stacked. Pod designer Ann Raab uses movable walls, multi-use furnishings, lighting, and windows to visually enlarge the Pod’s living spaces.
The Pods boast many environmentally-savvy features. All Pods utilize passive-solar design principles to cut energy use. Every Pod features low air infiltration design,energy-efficient windows, energy saving appliances, low-flow plumbing and LED lighting. They also make extensive use of daylighting.
Currently GreenPods is working on projects in Washington and California, and they can also service Oregon. Founder Ann Raab told me that they hope to be able to serve more parts of the country next year. I also asked her about costs and she said that depending on the size and features one selects for the their Pod, the cost would range between $150-$250 per square foot.
In case you are in Washington, you can stop by the GreenPod showroom. It’s at Artisans on Taylor, which is located at 236 Taylor Street, Port Townsend, WA, 98368 (across from the Rose Theater).
Popularity: 15% [?]