My? Your next home? zero-impact building …

Well, when we look to tomorrow, to a better future, many of us envision windmills, solar panels, electric vehicles, and other paths toward a prosperous and sustainable future a la Energize America.  

Amid this vision, somewhat “of course”, is the concept of a better infrastructure — one that eats up less energy in construction (less waste), provides livable space, and has the least energy and waste impact as possible.

Architecture 2030 provides a coherent statement and plan as to how to get to that better future.

Living Homes outside

But, just a few moments ago, into my inbox came information about what I want as my next home … that you might as well.

From their Living Homes’ welcome page:

We build homes created by world-class architects, which feature warm, modern design, functional amenities, and great price value.

Well, you take a look for yourself … as for me, I like my current home, but this looks to blow my house away. How about yours?

Our homes include natural, non-toxic and sustainably-derived materials; and they’re made in specially equipped factories that ensure unsurpassed quality, lower construction cost and waste, and shorten schedules.

Okay. Not only is it gorgeous, but its green.  Wow.  And, well, that shorten schedule means a lower cost for that part of the process. Using factories (modular construction) means lower cost construction processes which can enable using better (greener) materials potentially at a balanced price.

The result of all this: healthier, happier homes that have a dramatically smaller ecological footprint than most new homes.

And, did I mention that they are GORGEOUS.  Oops, drop dead gorgeous! (Can you tell, I’m sold guys …)
Living Homes

Our first home was designed by Ray Kappe, FAIA, and was installed in eight hours on April 13. It was recently certified LEED® Platinum by the United States Green Building Council, the first home in the nation to achieve this distinction.

Now, what is interesting is that they don’t go into, from what I see, a critical factor, which is the COST TO BUY versus the COST TO OWN. It is quite possible that these houses might be less expensive to buy than equivalent stick-building buildings.

But, as well, LEED standard construction means that the house is not just greener to build but greener to run. And, as part of that, this means less expensive to run through lower utility bills (more insulation, passive solar design (both for heating/cooling and lighting), etc). And, as well, living in a LEED standard home likely means lower medical bills as well.  (Fewer indoor pollutants to irritate your system.)

And, while these homes should be great to live in, cost less to run, have a smaller environmental footprint when you live in them, they also damage the world less in their construction.  Building these homes through modular construction greatly reduces the construction waste.  Living Homes provides this “EcoFact”:

Building a traditional 2,000 square-foot “stick built” home creates more than 25,000 pounds of construction waste.

In other words, “normal” construction creates about 6.5 tons of waste for every 1000 square feet?  Thus, those 10,000 square foot McMansions have 65 tons or so of waste associated with their construction before we even start talking about all the CO2 emitted to heat and light them.
Fireplace Living Homes

Living homes provides a Sustainability Scorecard for all their homes. Well, okay, Energize America team — perhaps it is time to think about making not just a recent Home Energy Audits a requirement for every home/building sale in the nations, but why not a sustainability scorecard as well?  As Living Homes puts it:

You know the gas mileage of your car; you know the nutritional value of the foods you eat. But what about your home? OK, you can’t drive it or eat it, but it does have performance, health, and sustainability metrics – if you know where to look. Like a nutritional label, [a] Sustainability Scorecard provides an easy reference for the ecological footprint of … homes.

While I’ve been working to reduce the energy footprint of my home, I probably have moved from a failing grade to marginally passing on a sustainability scorecard.  As far as I can tell, Living Homes  definitely merits an A in its report card.

World Changing has a great discussion of greening buildings and Living Homes.  As they wrote:

As we green our lives, the home is a natural place for innovation. There will be lots of players in this space, but Living Homes has set the bar with its extraordinary product. Nevertheless, the home has received its share of criticism, largely for it luxurious, high-end package, which knocks affordability off the list of features to boast about. … at Worldchanging we often justify pricey green design by reminding people that most innovative products hit the market at a price-point well outside most people’s budget, and eventually demand drives down cost.

Hopefully this will be the case for Living Homes, because surely the rest of their sustainability agenda is a model to be replicated widely in residential housing. And no doubt everyone deserves to live in a home this green.

Well, maybe there’s a reason I love the photos … out of my pocketbook range … but, let us hope that building practices like Living Green’s begin to sweep the market … but with smaller size and, therefore, more truly sustainable living spaces. We will all be better off if that occurs.
 

NOTE:

While I loved the photos and this reads like a strong advertisement for Living Homes (no compensation, sadly, for that), the key point is the importance and value of changing our building practices as a critical part of a more sustainable energy future. Living Homes provides a good example for the higher end residential market space.

Related to this, there was a magnificent program earlier this week, global cast to a huge number of architecture schools, The 2020 Imperative Global Emergency Teach-IN.  I should have diaried it … but, in any event, materials still available on the site. And, I would recommend that you take the 3 hours or so to watch the archived web-cast.  It was impressive — a DEFINITE RECOMMEND!

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