5 Energy Efficient Prefab Homes

5 Energy Efficient Prefab Homes

The words “modular” and “modern” are two words that have never preceded each other in the past, but are now finally starting to make headway in the custom build modern housing market.

Modular homes are homes that are constructed in sections off-site in a factory setting and then delivered and assembled on the client’s site. The factory setting creates a comfortable working environment for tradespeople which reduces schedule delays affected by various weather conditions. Modular homes are assembled on site quickly, and most average size homes do not need more than two weeks to be erected. Modular homes are known for their sustainability factors, as most companies try to use locally sourced products and are able to ensure an airtight envelope for the home.

For inspiration for your next eco-conscious home, read below about some of North America’s most unique energy efficient prefab homes!

1. Aamodt/Plumb architects – Modern Texas Prefab

This prefab home found on Lake Austin in Austin, Texas was commissioned for a young family. To meet the tight schedule set out by the clients, Aamodt/ Plumb architects used fast-tracking techniques usually reserved for large scale infrastructure projects. While the timber company was manufacturing the panelized sections of the house off-site, the site-work and foundation work were simultaneously being prepared. This process ensured that the home was framed and assembled in just two weeks, which is nothing short of impressive for a 6,000 sq ft house. The house approached passive energy standards with no additional measures needing to be taken. The roof is made of a lightweight white steel that reflects the Texas sun away from the house, keeping it as cool as possible and by lowering the client’s energy bill throughout the year.

Modern Texas Prefab | © Photo Casey Dunn

2. LivingHomes – First Toronto Home

LivingHomes is a California based company that designs prefab green homes. Their first home North of the border is located in Toronto on a 2,130 sq ft infill site that faces a ravine. It was the first LEED certified home in Toronto in 2012. The four prefabricated modules arrived on site and triggered curiosity and admiration as the master bathroom, toilet, shower and sink, could all be visible in its completeness prior to assembly. The eco features of the home include a fiber cement rainscreen system, soy-based polyurethane foam insulation, Energy Star-certified fiberglass windows, energy-efficient LED lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures. The most expensive eco feature in this home is the geothermal heating and cooling system which graces the home owners with a reduced energy bill and reliance on the city’s energy grid.

LivingHomes | Toronto | http://www.livinghomes.net/homesCanada.html

3. Hive Modular – B Line Small

Hive Modular homes are framed with wood and built in a factory in modular pieces that are later assembled on site. This 1,230 sq ft cottage is located on Lake Katepwa in Saskatchewan. What qualifies Hive Modular products to be eco-friendly are qualities that are shared among most modern modular homes. Shipping and transportation costs are reduced due to coordination amongst manufacturers across the US and Canada, and spray foam insulation, which ensures a tight envelope, using locally sourced products when possible. Hive Modular also offers Rating System programs and designers who can assist clients in ensuring them that their homes are LEED certified, using Energy Star ratings on buildings and R-2000, which is a voluntary standard administered by Natural Resources Canada. Optional green features that Hive Modular offers to its clients are geothermal systems, solar panelling, green roofs, rainwater collection systems, ICF foundations, no-VOC paints and recycled-content tiling.

Hive Modular | B-Line Small 005 | http://www.hivemodular.com/Homes/Models/BLines/BS005.html

4. Method Homes – Orcas Island Project

Method Homes is experienced in working on challenging and remote sites which can include buildings located on small infill sites, steep slopes or remote island locations. Located on the San Juan Islands rests Orcas, a completed project by Method Homes. Though island construction comes with its own set of unique and costly challenges, Method Homes is willing to take them on. Method Homes works with clients to assess modular access to island locations and delivering materials to these isolated locations. In addition to being located on an island, the Orcas project is located on a steep forested lot. The 1,300 sq ft home features a multi-level plan that mirrors the natural slope of the landscape. Two modules were used in the making of this project and this home boosts a unique bridge incorporated in the design which connects the living and sleeping spaces. The green features in this home are numerous and include a rainwater catchment system, a solar hot water preheating system and composite decking materials using bamboo combined with recycled plastic.

Method Homes | Orcas Island

5. Taalman Koch – Prefabricated Off-Grid IT House

This popular home, designed by Taalman Koch, is currently used as a rental home with an Airbnb price listing  of $516CAD/night. It’s been designated by Dwell as one of the ‘Best Homes in America’ and is one of the 10 IT Houses  in California. This home is the prototype for the pre-engineered system known as the IT House which stems from the idea of being “it” – meaning cool, modern and attractive. The home was assembled with an aluminum framing system and roofed with perforated steel decking. This home is easily the eco-friendliest home mentioned in this article, as it is completely off the grid. Powered by solar panels and hot water, this architectural and aesthetically appeasing home is a popular getaway in the pristine remote valley in the California high desert. The home is known for its remote location and complete serenity, as it is a quiet refuge from the distractions of everyday life. No TV or Wi-Fi is present in this vacation home which invites guests to take true note of the play of natural phenomena available in the desert.

Taalman Koch | Prefabricated Off-Grid IT House


Summary

It goes without a doubt that there is a lot to consider when choosing to build a custom home that is also modular, and with the numerous options and possibilities available today, your final product should be nothing short of your expectations. BONE Structure homes are not modular, but they are as innovative as modular homes and follow the principle of assembling the home’s structure on site. Construction is drifting away from the notion of building things on site to assembling pre-fabricated materials and fittings on a client’s lot. For the unveiling of Prof. Mark Z. Jacobson’s BONE Structure zero-energy home in Stanford, California – choosing modern construction methods to build his next home was a no-brainer especially when combined with technology that allows his home to be completely off the grid. Prefab homes already provide an eco-friendly edge to a home’s profile due to the method in which they are constructed.  When you add various mechanical systems, any home has the possibility to be a unique addition to the green building revolution that is occurring internationally.

References

Architizer. (2013). Modern Texas Prefab.
Retrieved from Archtizer: http://architizer.com/projects/modern-texas-prefab/

Boutique Homes. (2016). Off-Grid House.
Retrieved from Boutique Homes: https://www.boutique-homes.com/vacation-rentals/americas/united-states/off-grid-ithouse/

Busyboo. (2014). Hive Modular B Line Small.
Retrieved from Busyboo: http://www.busyboo.com/2014/12/17/small-prefab-home-hiveb/

Dwell and Frances Anderton. (2016). iT House, Joshua Tree.
Retrieved from Dwell: https://www.dwell.com/article/it-house-joshua-tree-b04b8a5a

Hive Modular. (2013). Sustainability.
Retrieved from http://www.hivemodular.com/Process/Sustainability.html

livinghomes. (2012). LivingHome, Toronto.
Retrieved from livinghomes: http://www.livinghomes.net/galleryLHtoronto1.html

Method Homes. (2016). Island Home Construction.
Retrieved from Method Homes: http://methodhomes.net/about-method/island-home-construction/

Method Homes. (2016). Projects – Orcas Island.
Retrieved from Method Homes: http://methodhomes.net/project/orcas-island/

Starr, R. (2012, May 2). LivingHome comes to life in Toronto.
Retrieved from Toronto Star: https://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2012/05/02/livinghome_comes_to_life_in_toronto.html