Sustainable Solar-Powered Communities Built on Parking Lots


The British architecture firm ZED Factory came up with a clever concept for a solar-powered home, which would be installed over existing parking lots to build sustainable communities and help combat the urban housing shortage. The idea behind it is to utilize the space taken up by parking lots, which is often quite large.



Each ZED Pod, as this home is called (ZED stands for Zero fossil Energy Development) would have a floor space of 147 sq ft (13.64 sq m), but it would be a two-story home. The downstairs area would contain a living/dining space, kitchen and a bathroom, while the upstairs would house the bedroom and an office area. They would be installed over existing parking spaces on a metal frame, which would leave enough space for cars to park underneath it and be sturdy enough to support the tiny homes. The pods would be fully prefabricated in a factory then assembled on site. According to the company, one such ZED Pod community could be constructed in just a week, while it could also be disassembled and relocated with relative ease if the need arose.



ZED factory envisions a whole community of such homes over a single parking lot, which would also feature a shared community space and an additional raised amenity area that could be used as an allotment.

comm area


The ZED pods would be fitted with solar panels, a heat recovery ventilation system, a green roof, composting toilet, and a grey water recycling system, which means that they would be able to operate completely off-the-grid. The surplus of energy produced by the solar panels could also be used to charge electric cars.

The ZED Pod would cost around $85,931 (£60,000), which includes installation. They would rent them out for roughly $1,074 (£750) per month, which includes all the utility bills.

ZED factory is currently in talks with the Oxford City Council about securing space for testing a community of about 50 ZED Pods. Since they’re so eager to build this community they have offered to do so with no cost to the council. It will definitely be interested to follow this project if it goes ahead.

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.


Downsize in Style


The motto of the company Tiny Heirloom Homes of Oregon is: “downsize, don’t down grade”. To meet this goal they offer a variety of ingenious tiny homes, which range from the basic to the more sophisticated. They also offer off-the-grid options, full customization, and smart home automation in partnership with Nest Labs. One of their goals is also to become the first luxury, custom tiny home manufacturer in the US.

The tiny homes they produce are fully customizable, while they all feature high-end flooring materials, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, a composting or incinerating toilet, a washer/dryer combo unit, a Dickinson p12000 heater, as well as wind turbines, solar panels, battery banks and so on. The basic model costs $75,000, with shipping included. Also included in the price are all the legal considerations, as well a as flight so you can visit the factory where your home is being built. I assume this is part of the “luxury” aspect that they are reaching for, though it might be better spent on some extra base level features.




They will also soon release the so-called Tiny Heirloom Home Automation System, which controls lighting and temperature remotely, features voice activated hand locking, and offers auto-leveling jacks, tank level indication, and propane level readings and Bluetooth surround sound. This can all be run via an iPhone or Android app.




The homes they make weigh from 8,000 to 18,000 pounds, which means they can be classified as travel trailers, and not park model RVs, which is the case with most other mobile tiny homes. This means that no permit to move them is required, while the company also claims that it is easier to get a loan from a bank for a travel trailer. These claims should be checked out by prospective buyers though, since they might not be the same in all states.

While these homes do bring some flair to tiny home living, and the fact that the customer can basically customize the whole thing according to their preferences, is a definite bonus. However, whether luxury and tiny home living are two words that can even be used together remains an open question.

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Super Sustainable LivingHomes Prefabs Taking Over California


The company LivingHomes has launched their first sustainable, LEED platinum prefab home back in 2013. They have also partnered with the non-profit Make It Right organization and architect William McDonough with whom they have created the so-called C6 home, which is an affordable LEED Platinum certified home, which also meets the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star standard.

The company has also developed their own 6-point sustainable home standard, called the Z6 program, which, according to them, will serve to better showcase the C6 homes’ performance.


The Z6 program can be used to measure how close each of the C6 homes gets to being zero energy, zero emissions, zero carbon, zero water, zero waste and “zero ignorance.” The homes graded using this standard get a percentage score based on all of these factors, while the overall score of 85 percent or above is considered acceptable.




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New Luxury P.A.T.H. Houses are Very Energy Efficient


The Prefabricated Accessible Technological Homes (or P.A.T.H.) are high-end, luxury prefab homes, which are capable of producing more energy that they require. These homes were created by French designer and architect Philippe Starck in collaboration with Slovenian prefabricated housing specialist Riko. The two partners are selling these homes under the name “Starck with Riko”.

The designer created 34 different floor plans for the P.A.T.H homes, so the future homeowners have lots to choose from. These floor plans range in sizes from 1,506 square feet (40 square meters) to 3,767 square feet (350 square meters), and they all meet the BEPOS energy standard for positive energy buildings. They feature triple-glazed, 2.48-inch thick windows and can be insulated with stone wool, glass fiber, or cellulose depending on where the home is to be located.



The creators recently unveiled the first prototype P.A.T.H home, which is located in Montfort l’Amaury near, Paris, France. Apparently this home is capable of producing 50% more energy than it requires. To achieve this, it is equipped with an IRFTS Easy Roof solar array, which is a system of 36 DualSun panels and 22 standard photovoltaic panels. Together, this system is capable of generating electricity, as well as heat the water. The solar power array can generate 11.8 MWh of electricity per year, and provides an estimated 70 percent of all hot water needed by the household. The home is also equipped with a gas boiler.

Customers can also choose between what type of outer shell they wish the home to have, namely, an all glass outer shell, an all-wood shell, or a combination of the two. The roof type, interior decorations, furniture and layout can also be specified by the buyer. Extra energy efficient features also include a roof top mounted wind turbine, which is an original design by Starck himself and made by a company called Pramac, which comes in 450 watt and 1000 watt versions. Customers can also opt for a super efficient SPEETA wood burning stove to be installed, along with a rainwater catchment and filtration system.

The price of a P.A.T.H. homes ranges $3,166 – $5,700 per square meter and can be delivered and assembled worldwide within six months.



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