Modular Homes Go Green
Prefab housing takes a new turn as architects and builders create structures with add-on components allowing home owners to build as big or small as they like. Architect Kieran Timberlake has joined with LivingHomes, a LEED certified modular home company, to create a 'Building System' of prefabricated components, "Smart Panels™", containing wiring and plumbing. These panels are made for baths and kitchens, which usually ends up being the greatest investment in materials.
By creating these prefab wall systems, the partners hope to streamline production and minimize cost to consumers. Each home is 'built' using a computerized modeling program that is intended to minimize waste materials. Though zero waste and the use of all natural materials with low embodied energy would be ideal, this thoughtfulness is extremely important as construction materials can make up to 40% of our landfill waste.
At over $200 per square foot, these systems are still higher priced than their traditionally built counterparts. However, as these green modulars are popularized, it is likely the sticker price will become more affordable. This team is not the first to hit the green market of prefab housing. This article lists many companies, including Ikea, which have jumped on the manufactured home bandwagon. Most companies offer the option of customizing a home based on component technologies. Differences are apparent in choices of materials affectingboth price and the ecological footprint.