Thursday, September 16, 2010

Modular & Pre-Fab Housing has a GREEN Lining

The truth is that I'm conflicted when it comes to new construction.  When it comes down to selling existing homes vs. new, I've always picked existing because it's been the GREENER choice.  If we have plenty of housing inventory, then why muck up more of the ridgeline overlooking the lake (just an example from my town) with clearcutting for mcmansions, which not many can afford in this economy?  Why ruin the view for the rest of the community?  At the same time, I firmly believe people have a right to do what they'd like on their own property, as long as it doesn't conflict with local planning & building codes.  I don't deny anyone that right.  I've handled this personal dilemma with choosing not to sell subdivisions or seeking out new construction business.  Plenty of other realtors are out there who would be thrilled for the business.

In my local real estate market, there isn't very much modular or pre-fab construction.  I've heard people say that "old yankees prefer stick-built!"  Early in my career I met a few builders who were doing it, but there weren't many takers.  I read online from the National Association of Home Builders that only 2-3% of homes built today are modular.  They say modular building has come so far in the past 30 years or so, and the options these days, are simply fantastic.  Especially when you factor in how GREEN you can go with this!

The basics of what makes modular construction environmentally-friendly include: these are usually smaller in size, very little construction waste (which is usually recycled) tight seals and good insulation, use of eco-friendly materials, and a higher quality of construction (I'm not sure how to validate that last point - it's a claim I keep seeing, so please don't hold me to it.)  In this or any type of construction, I think it's also about the choices you make in the finishes and those that will affect air quality (choosing materials with no/low VOCs or formaldehyde, recycled or repurposed materials) heating & cooling systems (energy-efficient, solar, passive heating,) space planning, and even things such as land planning and orientation.  (My dad taught me young about the importance of orientation.  We used to go for walks every evening after dinner and he'd talk about the houses in the neighborhood.  When your dad's a carpenter from a big family of carpenters and contractors, this is what you learn!)

Recently I saw the Country Living Home Green Home pictured above and it stopped me in my tracks.  This doesn't look like so many of the modular ranches or colonials I've seen, but more like those sweet HGTV GREEN houses.  It's the Hudson model, based on a cottage design: small , full of character and a very nice shade of GREEN :)  It's done by New World Home, a company creating sustainable housing with historically inspired designs.  Their webpage has a great quote, " We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors.  We borrow it from our children."  - Ancient Native American Proverb.   With such a strong statement/philosophy, it's no surprise the homes built by this company have all achieved the LEED for Homes Platinum certification - wow!  I am all about their darling dutch colonial too, called the Dickinson, after Emily Dickinson, which for some reason I can't seem to copy a link for you to see!  (Sorry, some days Blogger works better than others!)   Visit the New World Homes webpage where you can see this one plus all of the other beautiful homes as well.

Looking at modular construction brought me to another website for a company that makes pre-fab outbuildings like sheds, gazebos, cabanas, etc.  I found Summerwood Products and their great array of buildings and plans.  Their Melbourne garden shed is fantastic and my favorite home studio building is the larger sized Sonoma!   Not that I need either...but if you happen to buy/build one let me know!  It's nice that you can buy these pre-assembled or pre-cut and build them yourself - less waste when it's done at the factory.

2 other pieces of information to share with you today!  Have you heard of or read  It's a blog a million times more advanced than mine written by a team of very hip people.  It even lists GREEN jobs available!

From the Yale Daily News, which I just started reading since I may be advertising in it shortly:  Yale dining plans now include a reusable stainless steel mug for all participants in an effort to be more sustainable and use less paper cups.  The dining halls now charge $0.25 for each paper cup, so bring in your mugs.  Love the logo on the mug:  Yale  Where Blue is Green.  Reported today, just a few days after the distribution of the mugs, students have complained that the mugs are not spill-proof and are poorly made - whoops!

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