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.
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.
No Rules Just Architecture has created DOM(E), an prefabricated off-grid home that is an eco-friendly and portable shelter. DOM(E) provides optimal living conditions no matter where it is located and is less expensive than traditional construction, while making the best use of natural energy resources.
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.
The Seattle-based home building company, ShelterKraft Werks, designs affordable homes that are configured around recycled shipping containers to provide solutions for global housing challenges with turn-key, low footprint structures that can be installed within any conceivable environment.
Lightwall Pavilion, the winning submission to the 2012 ReSpace Design Competition, was designed by Abe Drechsler and Scott Hefner, architecture students at North Carolina State University. The multi-purpose structure is 213 square feet and is constructed of reclaimed wood from various sources and glass bottles obtained from restaurants and bars in downtown Raleigh.