This exciting new line of prefab houses comes to us from Bensonwood Homes, based out of Walpole, New Hampshire. Their Unity House, a Unity2 model built for the president of Unity College, has achieved a LEED platinum rating, making it one of a select group of homes around the country to reach such a lofty goal. And the small design-build company debuts not one, two, or even three, but four stunning models to the sustainable housing market. Reasonably priced and quickly assembled, all homes in the series are designed to be net-zero energy. The design aesthetic seems to lean towards the classic single family American home, while the high tech materials and features thrust towards the future of home building. The list of sustainable features is long to be sure, but here are a few key elements.
- Photovoltaic panels
- Passive solar heating
- Geothermal heat pump
- Air lock entry system
- Heat recovery ventilator
- Low VOC paints, finishes and stains
- Extensive use of recycled materials
- Minimal construction waste
The most important element of the Unity is the ultra efficient thermal envelope. With insulation up to 8 inches thick and triple glazed windows, the walls achieve an R-40 value rating. The roof clocks in at a whopping R-67, while the concrete floor resides at a solid R-20, respectively. All plumbing, wiring, and fixtures are routed through insulated channels to eliminate heat gain/loss.
Perhaps one of the most unique features of Unity is the Open Built® system integrated into the floor plan. The system allows for walls to be removed or slide into alternate positions, providing ultimate flexibility and functionality. New baby on the way? No problem. Slide a wall here or there and you've got an instant nursery. In addition to movable walls, the builder also provides for the option of different energy packages to be installed.
While passive solar and geothermal are the primary energy providers, fossil fuels, generators, and batteries can be integrated into the overall design. The home can also be linked to the grid to return any excess energy produced. Finally, if the home happens to be situated in a wind corridor, it can be linked to domestic scale turbines for a consistent boost. With four models to choose from and a built in flexibility, the Unity Collection™ can fill a wide range of needs. Overall, Unity represents a futuristic approach to sustainability with the looks and feel of a traditional American home. Looking forward to more prefab from Bensonwood …
Photos: Bensonwood; Naomi C. O. Beal Photography.