Here’s the story: A handful of entrepreneurs nurtured a graduate school business plan into an actual company called PFNC Global Communities. The acronym stands for “por fin, nuestra casa,” which is translated as “finally, a home of our own.” PFNC’s purpose is to convert shipping containers into affordable housing for those who most desperately need it around the globe.
Elizabeth Turnbull was planning for Yale grad school and started estimating her future living expenses. As an incoming Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies student, Elizabeth calculated that she would spend ~$14,000 over two years of school and wanted to do something effective with that money. So she channeled a little inspiration from Tumbleweed Tiny House and decided to build her own tiny home as economically as possible.
So far, she’s made incredible progress building the 8′ x 18′ modish home on a flatbed trailer. By the time she’s done, the off-grid home will price out just over $11,000 or so. And it’s surprisingly spacious inside, too.
Back in January of this year, I posted an article about the stylish, affordable GreenMobile® design by Mississippi State University Professor Michael Berk. Since that time, I’ve received countless emails and a few comments (aside: why do readers email rather than comment?) asking when the GreenMobile® would be available for purchase. So I’ve come to realize that people, including myself, really want to buy a GreenMobile. I mean, it’s kind of cool. The demand for affordable, modern living is really quite incredible (see: 100k House, e-House, Make It Right, etc). But the long and short is, I emailed Professor Berk and he was nice enough to extensively respond via the below email, which I’ve edited slightly for formatting.
Wentworth Commons is a 51-unit, 65,800 sf affordable housing complex in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood. As a home for at-risk and formerly homeless families and individuals, Wentworth Commons has been recognized for its trendy aesthetics and functional green design. The $13 million project has a slew of green features, including a 33 kWh PV system that provides 25% of the building’s power, a hyper efficient mechanical system, extensive use of locally sourced materials and rapidly renewable materials, and native plantings and bio-swale to reduce storm water runoff.
The fulcrum of the green building revolution, I think, is conservation and living happily with less. It’ll be interesting to see how we get there, to see if we can live lighter. In the meantime, I like to monitor small projects to see what piques the interest of crowds. Lately Abōd® has been getting some quality attention. Abōd was honored by the AIA this year with a Small Project Award. The AIA explained the concept: "The design goal was to develop a breakthrough in value-engineered lowest cost housing with an extensive array of add-on options to personalize each home. The resulting design incorporating the Catenary arch is simple and structurally sound but also aesthetically pleasing and can be built by 4 people in just one day with only a screwdriver and an awl."
We talked about renderings and plans for the Holy Cross Project back in August last year, but it’s now becoming a reality. The first home is finished and Global Green plans to open it to the public this coming May. When finished, the entire project will have four more homes and a 18-unit apartment complex — all of it low-income and green, too. Global Green is shooting for LEED Platinum on everything and expects homes to use 75% less energy than a similar, typical building.