What Makes MK
Solar Homes Green?
The following is excerpted
from the National Building Museum description of their "The Green House"
The website for MK Solar
A prefabricated house you can build anywhere
One of the most significant recent developments in housing
has been the effort to improve the reputation of prefabricated, or modular,
housing. Using powerful design software, a number of architectural firms now
combine the cost savings of factory-built homes with the benefits of customized
designs. The result is sophisticated architecture that can be offered at
remarkably low prices and assembled faster than traditional buildings. The
Glidehouse™, designed in 2004 by Northern California architect Michelle
Kaufmann, represents this new breed. Working with builders in Toronto,
Vancouver, Portland, and Southern California, Kaufmann has begun selling several
variations of the house. A total of 10 have been built, ranging from one to four
bedrooms and from 672 to 2,016 square feet in one or two stories. The price,
including the cost of the design, trucking materials to the site, and
construction, but excluding the solar panels on the roof and the kitchen
appliances—begins at about $132 per square foot for a house on a level lot. This
translates to around $200,000 for most variations—that’s $83,000 less than the
average cost of a new American home in 2005.
|Rendering of GlidehouseTM,
Michelle Kaufmann Designs
What Makes the Glidehouse™ Green
- The prefabricated nature of the house results in
comparatively little construction waste, particularly on the building site.
- The house can be positioned on its site to minimize solar
loss in the winter and solar gain in the summer.
- The house’s design layout has a narrow footprint,
facilitating cross ventilation in all rooms.
- The roof is sloped to receive solar panels and create a
clerestory window that brings in natural light and minimizes the need for
- Windows are placed to maximize solar benefits and natural
- Sliding panels of wood louvers cover the long glass façade
and can be adjusted to control the level of sunlight entering the house while
maintaining air flow.
- The walls and roof are made of structurally insulated
panels, or SIPS, a system that is well-regarded for its resistance to mold and
soft foam insulation, which fully fills each panel.
- Wood-to-wood wall joints are precisely caulked to make the
house airtight, minimizing the vulnerability to mold and lowering heating and
- Floors are bamboo, a fast-growing, easily renewable
- Lightweight concrete countertops are made of recycled
newspaper and fly ash.
- Kitchen cabinets are free of toxic formaldehyde.
- Kitchen appliances are energy-smart.
- Bathroom fixtures, such as the toilet and Tankless water
heater, save water and are energy efficient.
- Walls are finished in non-toxic paints.
- Energy-efficient fluorescent lighting is used throughout