Articles - September, 2007

Nodul(ar) House: Simple, Efficient, Variable

Nodul(ar) House

This weekend at Dwell on Design (this is a sneak peak), Jeriko House and Patrick Tighe are going to announce a watershed collaboration on a new kind of prefab, the Nodul(ar) House.  Readers of Jetson Green are familiar with Jeriko House, a Louisiana-based prefab company that we’ve written about here and here.  Architect Patrick Tighe is well known and highly accomplished, including two major achievements:  National AIA Young Architect (2006) and Rome Prize fellowship in architecture (2006-2007).

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with both Patrick Tighe and Shawn Burst, the CEO of Jeriko House, about the Nodul(ar) House.

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Nascent Home Tech Aims to Slash Energy Hogs

House Off Switch GreenSwitch

When I was growing up, if there was an errant light or something on, my dad would take my brothers and sisters into the room and say something like, "kids, this light isn’t going to turn itself off and it isn’t free to keep on either."  Needless to say, I learned to turn things off at a young age.  To make this process easier, two pieces of technology aim to eliminate the need to micro-manage electronics in your home. 

There’s the GreenSwitch and the House-Off Switch.  The premise of each is that there’s a singular switch that turns off all non-essential electronic items that have been set up to the switch.  The designer of the House-Off Switch (pictured top left) is Jack Godfrey Wood, who is based in London (and I’m not sure whether his concept is being marketed at this point).  The GreenSwitch (pictured top right) is the real deal and is supported by our favorite green expert, Ed Begley Jr.

Here’s how the GreenSwitch works.  The central switch controls all the slave components that have been set up and home installation takes about an hour.  There are 4 simple pieces you may use: (1) master switch, (2) thermostat control, (3) slave wall switches, and (4) outlets.  You decide what you have a tendency to leave on or which areas are vampires and install the proper piece at that position.  The relay between the master and slave is wireless, microchip-controlled radio frequency (RF) based communication, so there’s no getting in the attic with wires, etc.  And as a side note, according to the Department of Energy, 10-15% of the what you pay for on your energy bill is from stand-by or phantom power, so to the extent that you can trim that down, you’re saving money.  Basic Kit MSRPs for $1125.00. 

SG Blocks Rolling Out Safe, Green Building System

Fort Bragg Container Home

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of discussing the phenomenon of container housing with David Cross, Chief Business Development Officer for SG Blocks LLC.  SG Blocks, short for Safe and Green, is a sustainable building system made from containers.  Going beyond the trendy fascination with exposed container architecture design–modern, industrial, and extremely good looking, in my opinion, SG Blocks intends to use containers as a fundamental component to building construction.  A container home doesn’t necessarily have to look like a container home (that’s up to you), but it can have all the same advantages: comfortable, strong, green, and affordable.   

The home you see above is an example of container modules being used on a traditional home as a framing system.  From the outside or inside, you’re not going to know that it was built with container modules.  The cost of framing a home built with SG Blocks is about $22-30 psf, which is roughly comparable to other forms of construction.  BUT did you know that recycling containers into steel beams takes nearly 8,000 kW of energy at a cost of roughly $800?  Rather, it takes about 400 kW of energy to turn containers into a home.  At about 5% of the energy when compared to straight recycling, that’s not bad.  And right now, SG Blocks is in the process of rolling out their building system nationally.

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