Architect Felix Oesch's spare, concrete prefab outside of Zurich is a marvel of clean living. Geothermal energy for hot water and under-floor heating is provided by a pair of 300-foot-deep boreholes that transfer warmth from the ground to the house through a heat pump. Meanwhile, used air is taken out from the bathroom and kitchen and pumped back into the earth, effectively storing its energy for a later date.
Steve Glenn founded LivingHomes, a modern prefab development company, with the goal of creating green homes at accessible prices. Glenn’s mantra is “Zero Energy, Zero Water, Zero Waste, Zero Carbon, Zero Emissions,” and to that end he packed his prototype house in Los Angeles with energy-saving technology and nontoxic materials.
Architects Linda Taalman and Alan Koch’s iT House in California combines off-the-shelf manufacturing systems with green technology. Open to the extreme elements of the desert, the house employs passive heating and cooling strategies. The windows and sliding doors are made of Solar Ban 60 glass, coated with a low-e coating for long-wave radiation, and the roof is specifically configured to block the harsh summer sun. Solar power generates hot water and electricity.
A trio of architects devised a panelized wall and roof system for the addition to a 1950s Joseph Esherick home in Berkeley, California. The updated home also incorporates a range of green features. An Altherma air-to-water heat pump by Daikin runs off electricity generated by the solar panels; in-floor radiant heating helps conserve energy; and a monitoring system allows the owners to check exactly how much energy the solar array is collecting.
Paul Masi of Bates Masi + Architects designed a sustainable summer home for his sister’s family in Montauk, New York. The house is built on a foundation of insulated concrete panels and clad in a series of factory-made screens that help the house stay cool. Masi employed a bevy of other green design features as well, including passive and geothermal heating and cooling systems and a range of nontoxic finishes.
Scott Palamar made an off-the-shelf prefab model his own with a series of improvements, including an energy-saving water heater system. The experiment in clean, modular building proved affordable as well, totaling $150,000 for the customized 640-square-foot home and surrounding land at the base of the Sierra Nevada.
Richard Garber and Nicole Robertson, of the Manhattan firm GRO Architects, were tasked with creating a budget-conscious and energy-efficient prefab in Jersey City, New Jersey. The insulated concrete panels that form the structure of the house were cast in a factory and then assembled on site. The pitched roof houses a 260-square-foot solar array, and energy usage is kept to a minimum thanks to radiant heating and passive cooling systems.
Despite strict planning regulations, which dictated the pitched roof and narrow structure of a prefab house in Germany, architecture firm Amunt was able to incorporate an array of energy-efficient features, including a geothermal heat exchanger and triple-glazed windows.