The Santa Monica-based award-winning green design studio Minarc partnered up with Habitat for Humanity, and a local non-profit firm Restore Neighborhoods LA to design and build affordable, net-zero energy prefabricated homes in the low-income areas of South Los Angeles. Together they built 3 homes, which were all built on vacant lots in the poorest neighborhood of South Los Angeles. The houses all feature Minarc’s innovative, interlocking panel system, which is called mnmMOD. The homes are also equipped with roof top mounted solar panels.
A single family home in Glencoe, Illinois recently received the LEED Platinum for Home certification. This 4,800-square-foot house is the first new home in the North Shore area of Chicago to receive this rating. Despite its many green and sustainable features, the residence looks like a traditional house from the outside. The home also boasts of a HERS rating of 32.
The premade container home maker Cargotecture now offers a prefab home that is a perfect way to downsize yet retain the comforts of living in a larger space. The c-series 640 Lookout model measures 640 square feet, and features a large living area with a kitchen, a spacious bedroom and bathroom, a media room and a lofted sleeping area for guests.
The firm ISI Technology of South Carolina will soon begin producing a smart water heater, which is designed to cut energy use by 40% over conventional water heaters. They have recently successfully met their funding goal of $125,000 through Kickstarter to begin the production. The Heatworks MODEL 1 compact water heater will measure 12.5 inches by 6.5 inches, meaning that it will fit in most spaces. The water heater will also have Wi-Fi connectivity, so that temperature, power levels and duration can all be monitored and controlled remotely.
Sukup Manufacturing is a small company based in Sheffield, Iowa, which primarily manufactures agricultural products, which includes grain bins. About three years ago, Sukup also began manufacturing grain silo homes to be used as disaster relief housing in Haiti following the devastating earthquake there. They called this grain silo home a Safe T Home, and it was developed in partnership with Global Compassion Network and Iowa residents. In 2012 a shipment of these homes was transported to Haiti where volunteers and residents built the so-called “Village of Hope” from the silos. Safe T Homes proved very successful as relief housing, and they are now also available for purchase in the US through Sukup Manufacturing. Safe T homes can easily be used as vacation houses, or even tiny sustainable homes.
Some years ago the architecture firm LOT EK completed an innovative expansion on the NYC residence of the Guzman family. The resulting 1500 square foot penthouse is made up of a transformed mechanical room and a 20-foot shipping container. The bedroom is located inside the container part of the structure, while the designers also added a patio, and now the whole penthouse has a spectacular view of the Empire State Building.
The transformed mechanical room serves as the main living area of the home, while the master bedroom was moved to the upstairs shipping container part of the penthouse. The bay window at the main level, which is made from the back part of the shipping container, was wedged into the south wall of the building. The shipping container bedroom was then placed atop this structure.