Net Zero Prefab That Can be Built in Just Three Days


Unity Homes has recently unveiled a prefab home, which is sustainable yet still made to last for at least as long as traditionally constructed homes. The home has a number of certifications, including LEED v4 Platinum, while it is also net-zero energy and can be constructed on site in three days or less. It is also fitted with the largest number of Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified building products used in a residential project to date.

This so-called Zūm model was built in collaboration with BUILDER magazine and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. The demo home pictured above, which was exhibited at the 2015 Greenbuild event, was made in the company’s factory in New Hampshire in just five weeks. It measures 1,620-square-feet, and features two bedrooms and two bathrooms. On the Expo floor, the shell was built in a day and a half, and the rest, including the furnishings and additions took an extra two days.




The home is insulated using GreenFiber Cel-Pak cellulose insulation, which is made of 85% recycled paper fibers. To create the home’s airtight envelope, which targets .6 ACH50, they used Huber Engineered Woods’ ZIP Systems wall and roofing panels. The home is also fitted with fully operable triple-glazed unplasticized PVC (uPVC) Intus windows. The home is equipped with a Zehnder ComfoSystems CA 200 heat recovery and ventilation system, which works to provide an uninterrupted flow of fresh air into the home.



Furthermore, the home is fitted with SunPower solar panels, which are the only solar panels to have received C2C certification. They are made completely out of non-hazardous materials and come with an energy meter and app. This is only one of many C2C materials and products used to build the home.


According to the company, they can build one of these homes in just 30 days yet they will be around for 300 years. They also use no fossil-fuels in the building process. Unity Homes wish to offer affordable as well as sustainable homes, so this prefab is priced at under $150 per square foot. This number could still drop to under $140 per square foot in 2016.


Carbon Positive Prefab Home


The Australian architecture firm Archiblox recently unveiled their newest prefab home, which boasts of a number of sustainable and green features. According to the architects this is the first carbon positive prefabricated house in the world, which also means that it is the first energy positive prefab home. Whether those claims are true is up for debate, perhaps, but the fact that this is a very sustainable prefab home can’t be denied.


The Archi+ Carbon Positive House, as the home is called, measures 570 square feet (53 square meters), which is still big enough for an open living area, kitchen, dining area, bedroom, bathroom, laundry nook, as well as modular cabinetry and a sun-room.




The Archi+ Carbon Positive House was built with the so-called passive design in mind, meaning that it has features that work with the surrounding environment. It has shades on the outside of the house to minimize solar gain during the summer. The shades can be opened to maximize solar heat gain in the winter. The home also features floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that again help control solar gain, while also offering great daylighting and ventilation.

The home also has a “buffer zone” which helps moderate its temperature. This zone is created by the northernmost section of the home being separated off by an interior wall, which has enough depth to keep the hot temperatures from the high angle of the summer sun from spreading through the home. And in the winter, the lower angle of the sun enables its heat to reach through the entire home.

The home is fitted with a cross-flow ventilation system, which works by bringing fresh air into the house through underground piping. The old air is expelled through high north-facing windows. The home is fitted with double-glazed windows, which are thermally broken and have draft-proof seals to minimize heat loss.



The home also features a 5 KW roof-mounted solar panel array, which produces 15-21 kWh of electricity per day. The home itself is constructed out of sustainably sourced materials, while only VOC and formaldehyde-free glues and paints are used. The home also features a green roof which aids in the insulation, while it also features an inside vegetable garden which is watered using recycled grey water.

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Vantem Panels Introduces Net-Zero Kit House: SmartHomze


Vermont-based Vantem Panels, one of the United States’ first producers of SIPs (structural insulated panels) and one of three American producers of urethane panels, has released the first affordable net-zero energy kit homes: SmartHomze.

With an estimated $150 per square foot cost of construction (not including permits, site work, or foundation), SmartHomze are significantly more affordable than typical green homes that range between $200 and $250 per square foot and more in line with construction costs for an average new home that doesn’t include sustainability features.


One of the key energy-saving components of SmartHomze are the urethane foam panels that have a R-6.8 per inch R-Value, the highest of any insulation currently available. Oriented Strand Boards (OSBs) are harvested from sustainably managed forests. The SIP panels can provide homeowners with an additional 72 points for LEED or 242 points for the National Green Building Standard.

While SmartHomze are designed for installation on a pier, they can also be constructed on a slab or conventional foundation and are initially available in five sizes

SmartHomze 560 – The Dover – 20’x28’ (560 square feet) one bedroom, one bathroom, with wraparound porch and storage loft
SmartHomze 750 – The Bedford – 20’x28’ (750 square feet) one bedroom, one bathroom, with wraparound porch and sleeping or office loft
SmartHomze 900 – The Woodstock – 20’x28’ (900 square feet) three bedrooms, one bathroom, with wraparound porch
SmartHomze 1200 – The Mason – 28’x32’ (1200 square feet) three bedrooms, two bathrooms, with wraparound porch
SmartHomze 1700 – The Sharon – 28’x32’ (1700 square feet) three bedrooms, 2-1/2 bathrooms, with wraparound porch

Kits for net-zero SmartHomze include the materials for the exterior walls (including vinyl or fiber-cement siding, standing-seam metal roofing, triple-glazed R-5+ windows, doors, flooring, HVAC equipment, photovoltaic system, and a heat-recovery ventilator. SmartHomze does not provide for construction, interior partitions, finishes, appliances, cabinets, or plumbing fixtures.

Four sizes of SmartHomez studio models are also available, ranging between 96 and 160 square feet, that are designed for use as home offices, art studios, pool houses, guest accommodations, emergency shelters, or field offices with optional solar PV panels.


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Prefab Norris House in Tennessee is a Living Lab for Energy and Water Use

New Norris House

Since 1933, the Tennessee Valley Authority community of Norris, Tennessee has showcased a variety of prefabricated houses with modern amenities such as electricity, heat, and indoor plumbing that were quite rare in Appalachia.

Today, the same community hosts the New Norris House, which showcases the principles of affordable sustainable living. The 1,006-square-foot prefab cottage is proudly exceeding LEED-Platinum standards by 30%, utilizing sunlight and rainwater to focus on self-reliance and conservation. The house uses 50% less energy than other homes in the area and requires no fossil fuels to run.

New Norris House

The demonstration home was created by a team of University of Tennessee-Knoxville College of Architecture + Design students and faculty members, who used passive solar design and ventilation to maintain comfortable temperatures during all seasons. Natural daylight was an important consideration for the design, and a retractable awning on the southern side controls the amount of heat distributed throughout the home in summer and winter. A solar hot water panel and tankless electric water heater work together to maintain water temperatures, and about 85% of roof runoff is used for toilet flushing, laundry, and irrigation.