One of eight winners of the 2013 R+D Awards that were presented by ARCHITECT magazine, the ecoMOD Project is an effort of project teams at the University of Virginia (UVa) to work with affordable housing organization in the creation of low-impact, energy-efficient housing units. Project teams are made up of UVa faculty and students of various disciplines that have collaborated on the design, build, and evaluation of twelve housing units that are located on eight sites.
In 2011, the Denver chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) partnered with CAD-1, Inc. to administer a design-build competition for a home that would be built for Blue Spruce Habitat for Humanity in Kittredge, Colorado. The winning design of a duplex was submitted by Molly Blakley, Assoc. AIA; Alan Ford, AIA; Kathy Ford, AIA; and Matt Weaver, Assoc. AIA, with Alan Ford Architects P.C. as the Architect of Record.
A couple of years ago, Michigan’s Cobblestone Homes partnered with Dow Chemical Company to collaborate on the InVision Zero house, a home that is entirely sustainable for its energy use while being affordable and attainable for many Americans.
The InVision Zero home showcased several Dow products including POWERHOUSE solar shingles, WaterFurnace geothermal heating and cooling system, walls that are filled with 5” of Dow closed-cell spray foam, one inch each of Dow Structural Insulating Sheathing (SIS) and Dow Tongue-and-Groove Styrofoam to ensure a complete thermal break, and triple-paned Paradigm windows.
The most recent collaboration between Dow and Cobblestone is the TEETH (Twelve Energy Efficient Test Homes) Project, a five-year energy efficiency study on twelve homes that have been recently built in a subdivision in Midland, Michigan.
Vermont-based Vantem Panels, one of the United States’ first producers of SIPs (structural insulated panels) and one of three American producers of urethane panels, has released the first affordable net-zero energy kit homes: SmartHomze.
With an estimated $150 per square foot cost of construction (not including permits, site work, or foundation), SmartHomze are significantly more affordable than typical green homes that range between $200 and $250 per square foot and more in line with construction costs for an average new home that doesn’t include sustainability features.
This 3,600 square feet home in Leon Springs, Texas is LEED Platinum-certified and features several affordable green building strategies that contribute to its net-zero water use. The homeowners asked architect Karla Greer (of Lake Flato Architects of San Antonio, Texas) for a sustainable home that celebrated nature and provided space for entertaining and energy-efficient living.
Featuring a five-story atrium lit by natural sunlight at its entrance, the expansion of the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware incorporates significant amounts of prefabricated modules and materials into its construction. Project executive and prefabrication manager for Swedish builder Skansa USA, Marty Corrado, hired Rob Whartnaby as foreman and superintendent to build 144 pie-shaped rooms and bathrooms at a warehouse, using prefab technology that has rarely been used on hospitals and high-end commercial buildings, from which they would be shipped and installed on-site.
“It’s very innovative,” said Whartnaby, in an interview with Architectural Record. “We’re relearning the trade. It’s definitely good for the unions. It’s good for the customer . . . because you’re getting the building done faster. And there’s a big safety factor. On a wet day like this, we have a very controlled environment. Nobody’s going to fall over six feet on this job.”
“This is a radical departure,” said Corrado. Pipes and ducts are built into “one big box” that is linked to headwalls, which are then pre-approved by Underwriters Laboratories prior to installation. Each box is then lifted and hung in the building. While the project is not saving significant amounts of money by using prefab technologies, the reduction in construction-related injuries is notable. “We’re still using the same amount of material,” says Corrado. “We’re fairly confident that we are using less labor, but subcontractors are still reluctant to bid less on prefab commercial jobs. The practice is that new.”
Expected to open in 2014, the expansion features outdoor views from all patient rooms, which are private, single-bed areas, each with two televisions, shower, refrigerator, and closet space. Each unit has a playroom, serenity room, laundry facilities, overnight sleeping areas for residents, conference room. There are 24-bed patient care communities with three eight-patient neighborhoods, along with multiple serenity gardens, a Discovery Zone for children, and 188 underground parking spaces.