PREFABULOUS – an innovative opportunity for green living

The idea of prefabricated housing evokes visions of chunky, unattractive buildings that detract from the aesthetics of the surrounding neighborhood. In some exclusive areas, prefab homes are banned on the pretext that they’ll bring down property values.

But with new technologies and creative effort, the reality is knocking old perceptions out.

The newly released book PREFABULOUS + ALMOST OFF THE GRID: Your Path to Building an Energy-Independent Home by Sheri Koones, features over 30 prefabricated homes that show how they can blend into a neighborhood or proudly stand out as a wonderful architectural star.

Through beautiful photography, the book illustrates the green advantages of prefabrication, creating houses that are environmentally friendly and that can often operate at nearly zero annual energy cost. Koones, an award-winning author of five books, presents some of the most energy efficient homes in the United States and details how homeowners can create similar results with blueprints, the newest, most efficient technologies, and multiple images of the exterior and interior of each home.

Reminiscent of a traditionally built home, this prefab home is more durable and energy efficient

Buildings use approximately 30 percent of the energy generated in the U.S.  Yet some of the houses profiled in this book give back as much energy as they use. They are houses built with “reduced energy use, healthy products, and more sustainable materials”, said Robert Redford, who wrote the book’s forward.

“With this depressed economy,” said Koones, “I believe people are interested in building houses that are more practical, smaller, will require less maintenance and will save money on heating and cooling.”

“Building more efficient houses is a win-win situation for the homeowner, the environment and the country,” she said.

Houses profiled in the book address two critical issues: energy-efficient design and factory-manufactured quality. The first, says Koones, “saves money from the initial day of occupancy while the second ensures the long-term value of the investment”. Prefabrication, says Koones, offers “the least complicated and most reliably scheduled path to the green home of your dreams.”

“There are two price tags to consider when pricing a new home,” writes Koones – “what the house will cost to operate and maintain” and “what the house will cost initially to build.”

One of the book’s key messages is that homeowners shouldn’t be deterred from building “green” due to costs.

This desert-based home is another example of the creative elegance of prefabricated homes

In most existing energy efficient) homes, energy savings will equalize any additional cost within a few years. In some cases, Koones writes, energy efficient houses have been built with no additional construction cost.

Among the many benefits of a prefabricated home are:

  • minimization of waste
  • faster, high-quality construction
  • drastically reduced construction time for larger components through waste minimization
  • Resilience as modular construction is stronger and more durable than traditional construction

“Prefabricated houses are indistinguishable from site-built houses,”  said Koones, “but (they) are generally built stronger, by more professional workers, save time and save money. “

PREFABULOUS provides a lot of details for each of its featured homes, including their green aspects, energy aspects, architect, builders and designers. Koones presents the many ways prefabricated homes can be built and outlines the many challenges faced in building them. Methods include using modular components, structural insulated panels (SIPs), panelization, prefabricated concrete walls, timber frames, and steel frames, as well as several new and innovative approaches. Even better, the book focuses on energy efficient strategies,, including water conservation, orientation and heating and cooling with renewable energy such wind, solar and geothermal.

“Prefabricated houses are indistinguishable from site-built houses,” said Koones.”

At the book’s end, Koones provides an extensive list of resources of supplies, consultants, designers, architects, builders, etc.

The types of houses profiled in Koones’ book are varied. Some are ultra-modern, some are reminiscent of a traditional style home. But whether they’re single- or multi-storied, whether they’re designed to blend into the landscape or proudly stand as a testament to creative vision, they all clearly demonstrate the practicality and beauty of prefabrication to help homeowners go green.

You’ll find PREFABULOUS + ALMOST OFF THE GRID: Your Path to Building an Energy-Independent Home at bookstores or online at www.abramsbooks.com and at Amazon.

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One Response

  1. I had no idea that pre-fab had come so far!

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