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Green Prefabs on the Cheap (relatively)
by Katy Purviance on 02/23/10 @ 10:38:35 am
Categories: Pre Fab | 536 words | 3931 views

I just read this in my printed, subscriber-copy of Natural Home Magazine about three green prefab homes you can get for under $120,000. Which, if you live in crazy over-priced LA as I do, is about the tenth the price of a “regular” home. If you live in the smack dab of the state of Washington like my friend Trisha does, then these prefab prices are about the going rate for houses. Just so you know.

I’m pro-pre-fab. It’s cheaper, faster, and less wasteful than “traditional” construction, and by “traditional” I mean the way they’ve been building houses since WWII. If we want to change our definition of “traditional” to mean the way people have been building their houses all of the world for thousands of years, then these are very resource-heavy and very environmentally wasteful. So it’s all relative – better than some, but not as good as most.

Anyway, if yo want to be better than some, but not as good as most, here you are:

Clayton I-House

Clayton Homes, one of America’s largest prefabricated home manufacturers, has developed the i-house “to create an environmentally friendly house that promotes healthy living at a price people can afford,” says Brandon O’Connor, Clayton’s i-house specialist. The 723-square-foot basic unit costs around $75,000 and can be expanded and customized. The highly efficient i-house’s 4-kilowatt solar-electric system powers it for about a dollar a day.

• Low-E windows
• Efficient appliances
• Solar panels
• Super insulation
• Dual-flush toilets
• Tankless water heater
• Bamboo floors
• Rainwater-collection cisterns
• Zero-VOC paint
• Composite decking from recycled materials

For more information visit Clayton Homes’ website or call (866) 516-1140.

(Why do they call it the “i-house"? To sound trendy?)

Cottage in a Day

Last August, Cottage in a Day delivered the first of its factory-built homes. Constructed with structural insulated panels (SIPs)—efficient foam sandwiched between two pieces of oriented strand board—the homes exceed the National Association of Home Builders’ green standards. Local suppliers provide materials, and excess materials are rebuilt into furniture, mailboxes and birdhouses. Cottage in a Day’s 1428 SB model offers 375 square feet and a 288-square-foot deck for $117,000.

• 70 percent recycled-content steel roofs
• Energy Star appliances
• Bamboo flooring
• Low-VOC finishes
• Structural insulated panels
• High-recovery electric water heater
• Dual-flush toilets
• Energy Star windows
• Water-saving fixtures
• Electric air-to-air heat exchanger

For more information visit Cottage in a Day’s website or call (231) 946-7741.

Blu Homes

Blu Homes save 30 to 50 percent in energy and release half the carbon emissions of a typical home. The 600-square-foot, one-bedroom/one-bath Origin prefab costs around $90,000. The company uses a combination of modular and flat-pack technology to reduce shipping costs. “Our goal as a company has been to provide sustainable homes for ordinary Americans,” says Maura McCarthy, cofounder and vice president of business development.

• Efficient soy-polyurethane foam insulation
• Clerestory windows for passive solar and natural lighting
• Low-water toilets and low-flow fixtures
• 93 percent efficient forced hot air and cooling system
• Bamboo, cork or sustainable wood flooring
• Recycled rubber or metal roof tiles
• Energy Star appliances
• Cradle-to-Cradle-certified interior products
• Heat recovery coil in shower
• Paperstone or other eco-friendly countertops
• Energy Star windows
• Low/no-VOC laminate or wood cabinetry
• Home energy-management system
• CFL or LED lighting

For more information visit Blu Homes’ website or call (617) 517-6163.

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Know of some others I can add here? Let me know. Have you already visited some of these places...or planning on it? Let me know and I will feature your story and your photos here!

I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.

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