This article was authored by guest Chad Ludeman of Postgreen Homes.
Prefab homes seem to be showing up more and more in the media these days, especially with two large exhibits in Philadelphia showcasing their history this year. Like many, I hoped that prefab would be the answer to bringing modern architecture to the masses in the US and beyond. I thought that finally, modern home design would be attainable by those of us who aren’t pulling in lofty six figure incomes. That was until I conducted extensive research into the possibility of starting a development company in Philadelphia using only prefab homes.
Don’t get me wrong, I love prefab and many of the firms out there with cutting edge designs in the prefab realm. There are also a variety of building lessons that can be learned from the prefab methodology. I just don’t believe it is the best way of delivering modern design to the average new home buyer.
Below we will look at this issue from two points of view. First, we will look at the prefab industry and try to dispel some of the myths that have arisen around it. Second, we will take a quick look at how the housing industry may be able to learn from both prefab and site-built homes to create a hybrid approach that will provide a better, more accessible solution to the home buyer and hopefully reduce the barrier of entry to modern, green, and unique residences.
Names and firms have intentionally been left out of this post in an effort to discuss only the facts, dispel some of the myths of prefab, and possibly look towards a better method for bringing modern homes to the average American.
Check out this video with Rob Watson, a green building leader often referred to as the Father of LEED. Watson discusses general green building and current market trends. Towards the end of the video, he kind of eases into a discussion of Serious Materials, but that’s okay because Serious Materials is a legit company in terms of sustainable building materials. Most recently, Serious Materials took the category award at 2008 GoingGreen 100 for green building materials. I’ve transcribed some of the interesting quotes from this video below:
University of California, San Diego is in the process of installing Solar Trees by Envision Solar on the roofs of two of its parking garages. The Solar Trees are designed to provide clean energy for the campus, shade for vehicle parking, and future infrastructure for electrical vehicles. Each Solar Tree at UCSD will generate more than 17,000 hours of clean energy per year, which is enough to power more than four single-family homes. In aggregate, with two parking garages topped with Solar Trees, you can imagine the power they’re generating.
There's an interesting story to the green building certification of the historic Mutual Building in Lansing, Michigan. Not only did it receive LEED Platinum certification in both the LEED-CS and LEED-CI ratings systems, making it the world's first building to do so, it's also an historic building that's been preserved, renovated, and certified. People will, in all likelihood, discuss the building's double platinum certification, but I think it is more commendable and noteworthy that they did all that in the context of a building listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. It's quite incredible …
NRDC Report: Green investment now = 2 million jobs. Demand is growing for low-impact "green" homes. Building integrated solar cells could make solar more attractive. Nature is inspiring green design […]
As an interesting example of adaptive reuse, I thought it would be fun to showcase the design of Menefee + Winer’s office in Atlanta, Georgia. Located at 1075 Brady Avenue near Georgia Tech, the 4,100 sf building used to be bland, gray muffler shop (see bottom) — but now with its vibrant colors and fierce shape, how about the transformation? This LEED Silver building is also, interestingly, the first LEED-NC certified architect’s office in Georgia. Here are a few things they incorporated through the gut rehab: