Older homes frequently aren't very energy efficient because power used to be extremely cheap and building codes varied widely. In mild climates, that tended to happen even more. Our home in Oakland was built in 1948 and was far from energy efficient when we bought it: single-pane windows and doors, some of which didn't close well; original floor furnace; no insulation in the ceiling or walls; drafty fireplace.
This year's Innovation Pipeline at West Coast Green was relatively small. In part this may reflect the state of the economy, which has lead to decreased investments in new building technologies. Despite that, there are a few interesting technologies that have been brought to market recently or will hopefully be available soon. Here's a look at several products that may just change the future of this industry.
Today at West Coast Green 2009, Green Horizon showcased their new SFH40 on-demand housing, and it's an impressive unit. Designed to be a self-sustaining home for a family of four, it can be shipped anywhere in the world in a standard shipping container and set up in less than two hours by unskilled people. Each unit has two bedrooms with built in furniture, a bathroom, and a kitchen area. But it's also designed to be a self-sustaining shelter in the aftermath of a disaster when infrastructure may be damaged, so it includes solar panels and batteries, a bio-diesel generator as backup, and water purification equipment. Units can be interconnected to share power and water.