Betty Ybarra is about to move into the first house she has ever owned, a tiny home which she helped build. The tiny homes for the homeless project is the brainchild of Occupy Madison, a non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin. Betty’s is the first tiny house the group has built, and her and Occupy Madison volunteers have been building it for about two months. The finished 96-foot-square tiny home is now ready, and cost about $3000 to build. The money needed to build the home came entirely from donations from the community.
German architect Han Slawik created his Homebox design based on the shipping container building model, taking into consideration the ease of transport, universal dimensions and general usefulness of shipping containers. However, the Homebox is not made from an actual steel shipping container. Slawik simply took all the best parts of shipping container architecture and modified it to be easier to build and maintain. Modification of steel structures during the building process, as well as the subsequent repair and maintenance is costly, which is one of the drawbacks of building homes from shipping containers.
Last week, the Zero Net Energy (ZNE) house was unveiled in Clovis, California. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home has a living area of 2,064 square-feet and was built as a join effort between BIRAenergy Consulting and De Young Properties. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) offered technical assistance to the builders in trying to find ways of getting the home to use only one-third of the energy needed for a house built to minimum code. ZNE House was built to become a model for future net zero homes in the area.
The house features numerous energy-efficiency improvements, which are in accordance with California’s Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan. This plan stipulates that all new residential construction in California will be net-zero by the year 2020. The house will not be made available for purchase yet, as it will serve as a prototype to study how well it functions and what improvements have yet to be made.
The Colorado-based Formworks Building Inc. has been specializing in earth sheltered building technology since 1979. The main idea behind their buildings is the creation of sustainable, affordable housing. Formworks structures have an estimated usable life span of over one hundred years without any major maintenance. These houses are built into the earth surrounding the building site, which has the added bonus of protecting the home from raging storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, mudslides and so on.
The students of New Caney Independent School District (ISD), TX have partnered up with the Piney Woods United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Branch of Montgomery County in an effort to build a green home from recycled shipping containers. This home will serve as a demonstration house and is will be the first of its kind in the country. Once they finish it, the home will be open to the public in order to demonstrate the latest technologies in the areas of energy efficiency, recycling, water management, and use of readily available green products.
The Rural Studio members, founded in 1993 by Sam Mockbee, have been perfecting the design of the so-called 20K House for the last twenty years. The project was started by Mockbee who created a program where Auburn University’s architecture students could use reclaimed wood or natural other materials to design houses for low-income residents of Hale County, AL. For the past ten years, the students have been building these homes for the poor living in the Black Belt area of Alabama. But now the 20K house is being put on the general market.