First Light House

Location: Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Architects: First Light Studio, Victoria University of Wellington Students
Year: 2011

The award-winning First Light House was originally designed and constructed for the US Department of Energy's biannual Solar Decathlon competition in 2011. The design was inspired by the traditional New Zealand holiday home, a 'Kiwi Bach', socializing, and connection to nature. The house - which has one bedroom, but sleeps six because of an ingenious system of bunks and fold-down beds in the living room - shows what is possible in sustainable housing. A cedar canopy soars bird-like above the bach, supporting the 6kw solar array of 28 photovoltaic panels and 40 water heating tubes. The front and back bi-folding doors allow for plenty of natural light to enter. An overhanging roof provides ample shade on hot days while also adding protection when the doors are open, creating a seamless indoor-outdoor connection. Some other features include a beautiful detachable cedar cladding system, triple-glazed sky roof and radical solar clothes-drying cupboard.

Simpatico Prototype

Location: Emeryville, California
Designers: Swatt | Miers Architect, Seth Krubiner

The prefab uses a panelized construction system. The home includes an all-electric net zero energy design, hydronic radiant heating, 6.2 kw solar panel array, living green roof and rainwater catchment system. The residence was designed to achieve a LEED Platinum for Homes rating and actually sells energy back to the grid as a result of the 30 panel solar system. Energy conservation is achieved with the help of an electric heat pump, passive solar architecture, and extremely efficient fixtures and appliances.


iT House

Location: Joshua Tree, California
Architect: Taalman Koch
Built: 2008

The iT House brings together raw industrial aesthetics with the tactics of green design to forge a new home in the sunbaked wilds of California's east. T
emperatures climb higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit each summer and drop to nearly 32 degrees during the night in winter. The pre-fab iT House is a collection of off-the-shelf manufacturing systems combined with custom-made interior elements. Passive heating and cooling strategies are employed through the house - 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 configured so that it blocks the summer sun. In winter, when the sun is lower and temperatures drop, sunlight can penetrate through the windows. Solar power generates hot water and electricity.


Architects: Almeida and Dokter Misses

The 186-square-foot POD Idladla is a compact prefab home for two that can move anywhere you wish. The modular nano-home is powered by solar energy and can be customized off-site to the client's specifications. The minimal and charming mobile pod ships flat-pack and assembles onsite in a snap. The modular design means each mobile pod can accommodate two people but can be expanded with additional pods to make multi-unit configurations to house up to 12 people. The design goal behind POD-Idlala was to make an attractive eco-friendly home that promoted simpler living and was affordable enough to appeal to young adults. The energy-efficient POD-Idlala is topped with a pitched roof that maximizes solar potential with room for solar panels. The white and mint green-painted facade reflects the harsh sun to keep the interior cool, while the multiple openings and operable concertina doors promote natural ventilation.

Pryor Residence

Location: Montauk, New York
Architects: Bates Masi Architects
Year: 2009

The Pryor Residence is environmentally friendly in its overall construction and planning with such specifics as geo-thermal heating & cooling, shading & venting systems, solar panels, organic finishes and materials. Lending to the structure's sustainability, the house is assembled, rather than built, with prefabricated foundation, panel siding and efficient built-ins minimizes construction debris or toxins such as concrete foundation tar on the site. With the owner's initial premise of camping, the design and functionality of the house promotes a memorable experience for friends and family in the natural environment.


Location: Healdsburg, California
Designer: Michelle Kaufmann and Blu Homes
Year: 2005

The signature Breezehouse is a modular, environmentally sustainable pre-fab house composed of two 49-foot-by-18-foot modules joined by the signature Breezespace (aka living room) measuring 25-feet-by-20-feet. The signature glass-enclosed space sits under a butterfly-shaped roof which allows air to pass and circulate through the entire house. There are also indoor gardens, and movable glass walls which open the Breezehouse for easy indoor-outdoor living. The home's interior packs plenty of natural light, soaring ceilings, and a spacious open floor plan arranged with communal shindigs and entertaining in mind. Homes like the Breezehouse can be completed from beginning to end in a few months with no contractors, and the origami-like folding system allows it to be economically shipped all around the country than can normally fit on a flatbed truck.
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