Students present a prototype for ultra-green prefab housing.
In the push for prefabrication, the greatest potential may lie in America’s schools. For the 2014 iteration of the Solar Decathlon Europe in Versailles, France, students from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, teamed up with peers from the Université d’Angers in France to design an energy-efficient, market-ready home that also happens to be entirely prefabricated. The entry, which featured a super-insulated building envelope and renewable energy systems, took first place in the Electrical Energy Balance contest and ninth place overall. Continuing its success at the decathlon, Appalachian State is piloting a new program called IDEXLab, in which student-faculty teams will work together on real-world projects.