When you think about a prefabricated home, you may envision a cookie-cutter house with absolutely no eye-pleasing aesthetics or sustainable design features. However, prefab has come a long way, baby. LivingHomes is the creator of some ultra fab, ultra green prefab models. In fact, the homes are so fabulous that the company has even received recognition from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment. In 2007, LivingHomes was named one of the AIA’s top 10 green projects of the year. LivingHomes got its start when founder Steve Glenn was a child. He built Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired masterpieces out of his Legos. Unfortunately, his talent in Lego architecture didn’t translate into a talent for design, so he partnered with truly accomplished architects to make his visions come to fruition, and that is how LivingHomes was born. Although LivingHomes isn’t the only prefab homebuilder on the market, the houses built by the company have sleek and modern designs created by award-winning architects and, of course, they are built using very strict environmental guidelines. In fact, LivingHomes created the first LEED Platinum-certified home in the nation. The company strives to achieve a minimum of LEED Silver certification on all homes that it builds. In order to receive LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a variety of sustainable design and construction features must be used. To guide them in their design and fabrication process, LivingHomes focuses on what they call the Six Degrees of Sustainability. The Six Degrees of Sustainability represents LivingHomes’ goal to achieve as close to a zero impact on the environment in six categories: energy, water, waste, emissions, carbon and ignorance. Yes, ignorance is one of the Six Degrees of Sustainability. LivingHomes and Lucid Design Group have partnered to provide owners with a building dashboard that provides homeowners with instant access to electricity consumption, water use and much more. The company also provides owners with a handbook and training so that the home can be maintained regularly. The company also goes above and beyond what more mainstream prefab builders do in the waste arena. The company has laid out a four-step process to reduce waste. In fact, these processes allow LivingHomes to achieve about a 2% waste level — in other words, 98% of the construction products are reused, recycled or otherwise diverted from landfills. Step one of the four-step zero waste goal is the deconstruction process. If the prospective home site has a building currently on it, LivingHomes works with The ReUse People to deconstruct the building and separate the reusable and recyclable goods. The ReUse People is a part of The ReUse Institute, and is dedicated to helping divert demolition and deconstruction materials from local landfills. The second step is the use of locally sourced, recycled or reclaimed materials. LivingHomes made in the United States are manufactured in California, and regionally sourced materials are used when available. Step three ensures that the process that goes into making the home can be reversed so that the product can be deconstructed and reused at the end of its life. The final step in the process is what is called moveable millwork. In other words, you can move the walls around in your home during the design phase without the need for new building materials. Of course, all of this comes at a bit of a premium. An ultra sustainable, ultra fab LivingHomes house starts at $230 per square foot, excluding the price of land. This translates to around $460,000 for a 2,000-sq.-ft. house. Another price-contributing factor is the distance that your lot is from the factory. The further the house needs to be transported, the more expensive the process is. However, LivingHomes is just over a year old, and the company does have plans to collaborate with manufacturers in other parts of the country, which will lead to a wider distribution network. What LivingHomes has done with its award-winning, ultra sustainable, ultra fab homes proves that prefabricated homes can be gorgeous and green while still maintaining the convenience of a factory-built home.
LivingHomes: Ultra Fab, Ultra Green Prefab
Think prefab building can’t be topnotch? Think again.