energy efficiency, sustainability, green buildings, solar, hybrid cars and alternate fuels.

"A society built on green design, sustainable energy and closed loop systems, a civilization afloat on a cloud of efficient, non-toxic, recyclable technology." ~~Alex Nikolai Steffan

11.08.2007

Energy Self-Sufficient Housing - The Zero House

I've been in misnamed "Tampa Bay" three times recently, and yesterday afternoon drove over to St. Petersburg Beach through "Paradise Island" with many Mcmansions built on dredged sand, perched precariously overlooking shallow seawalls, anxiously awaiting a hurricane force wind the likes of which have not been seen in this area in decades.

In the hotel the night before, I had watched a commercial for ugly pre-fab homes, now called modular housing and pondered Dwell Magazine's recent
modular home competition. Housing with simple, elegant beauty. Modular could be less expensive than stick built housing and could more more energy efficient--even energy self-sufficient.

Here's one architect's concept, called "Zero House" - a 650 square foot pre-fab house that needs no utility or waste connections. It generates its own electrical power, collects and
stores rainwater and processes all waste.

The two bedroom, one bath space (with an additional outdoor shower) is heated and cooled, comes on two flatbed trailers and can be erected in less than a day. Conceived by architect Scott Specht, of Specht Harpman, the estimated cost is $350,000.

Despite its Photoshop background, the house's self-sufficient quotient would clash immediately with municipal building codes requiring utility and sewer hook-ups, etc. However, it was designed to be used in remote or ecologically sensitive locations, steep slopes or even in standing water, since the building's foundation touches the ground at only four places. It has a tubular steel frame that is supposed to withstand winds of up to 140 mph. Its exterior is maintenance-free, has photovoltaic panels, solar hot water panels and can "hibernate" to conserve power.

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