Ali Kriscenski

ASAP HOUSE: House About Saving a Planet

by , 11/02/07

ASAP House, House About Saving a Planet, Laszlo Kiss, zero-energy, prefab housing, prefabricated, architecture, geothermal, solar, sustainable design, asap4.jpg

Telling it like it is right from the start, the ASAP House is a House About Saving a Planet with a prefab design for zero-energy living. The cost-effective package includes geothermal heating and cooling, active and passive solar systems and generous square footage to bring modern, environmentally friendly modular living to the Northeast United States (prefab’s not just for SoCal anymore!).



ASAP House, House About Saving a Planet, Laszlo Kiss, zero-energy, prefab housing, prefabricated, architecture, geothermal, solar, sustainable design, asap3.jpg

Designed by architect Laszlo Kiss, ASAP House uses a 10 KW photovoltaic array to power the 2,520 s.f. structure. Sized to kick off 13,000 kWh annually as a grid-connected system the PV will generate more energy than needed on a New England site.

More than just a power plant, the ASAP House is highly insulated with low air infiltration and packed with low energy consumption systems, fixtures and appliances, including Energy Star rated products throughout. Heating and cooling is handled by a geo-exchange system that delivers five units of energy for every one unit of electricity used in operation. Extremely energy-wise, geothermal for heating, cooling and hot water can yield savings up to 70% over conventional HVAC. Geothermal is underutilized in the North East but is the most environmentally friendly way to heat and cool your home, according to the US DOE and EPA.

As a prefab, the ASAP House offers customers energy and time efficiency with better quality and less waste than traditional construction. The estimated factory build time for the ASAP House is two weeks arriving at the site 80% finished in the form of three prefabricated modules. The house is designed to set on a concrete foundation, typical of New England, with only final assembly and finish work left for on site. The full basement uses prefabricated walls, is insulated and can be finished at a later date.

Skylights throughout provide natural daylight while shaded decks invite climbing vegetation and help reduce solar gain in summer. In total, the ASAP House offers 4 bedrooms, 2 ½ baths, 2 studies, living, dining, kitchen and great room. Accessories include the full basement and an outdoor pool, which can be heated with solar radiation.

A prototype is currently being developed and slated for assembly this year on a site in Sag Harbor, NY. Complete, the ASAP House’s price tag is expected to run between $250 – $265 per square foot. A LEED rating is also in the works.

+ ASAP House

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16 Comments

  1. David Walsh February 10, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    I live four houses up the street from this new designer all green home being built in Sag Harbor. I love the design. I love the concept. It’s so Hamptons like! Due to factors beyond my control however, my property is up for sale. But until then, I’ll enjoy seeing such innovation continue right here on my street where I’ve been since 1956. Good Luck to you Laszlo & Lisa Kiss. Your new home is quite beautiful.

  2. AGL January 31, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    The concept off-grid, totally green housing is a great idea, which I fully support. But the major ‘fly in the ointment’ is a $630,000, 2500 s.f. house that is out of the reach, pricewise, of the average American. This makes ‘green housing’ just another feel good, status symbol of the wealthy. Until, and unless, you convince Joe American that the up front expense justifies a sustainable lifestyle, we will continue to have 90-day ranchburgers and double-wide trailers as the housing type of choice. Remember, we are dealing with the WalMart generation. Eight years ago, I purchased my 1978 house on a three quarter lot for 4.5 times less than this dwelling. Try to explain to the average American that a house such as this is what the future depends upon and he will turn his back on you. We have got to get the price of sustainable technologies down to an affordable level before the concept is accepted by the rest of the country.
    Bill Clinton came close to being correct; “It’s the pocket book, stupid!”

  3. Greg January 10, 2008 at 2:51 am

    I’m also thinking something along these lines for a retrofit. I may be bidding on a atomic ranch Frank Wright styled house with a flat roof. Definately some work to do. I don’t particularly like the cost of the slab house, paying taxes for a large lot for half the square footage. In my area of the country we have basements in many cities. That doesn’t add to the taxed value but adds a lot of space for storage of junk. Anyway, my ideal plans would be toward retrofitting this, but I don’t know how far I can take it and what will be allowed by code. Here’s my thoughts. It’s gotta have a highly insulated roof. That means I have to probably redue the roof or even create another false ceiling lowering the interior as a retrofit to get the R value I want which is R60 if possible. All those “atomic ranch” skylight styled windows will cause a lot of energy loss, so I’ll need to add or be ready to block off many windows with some kind of insulated shutter screens. I also want to look at the roof lines and try to determine if I can “house wrap this house with Straw bale. It may be “experimental and I may have to worry about humidity buildup, so that will be a major retrofit in a sense an exterior wall with roof extenions actually making the overall roof larger. I’ve even thought about the possibilty of adding a second roof over the top of the entire house, with an insulation layer below it over the original roof, sandwiched construction, but I’m fairly certain that would be a code nightmare and something that would be very expensive. My thought is I can put the retrofit exterior walls as insulation, being straw bale around a Frank Wright styled house and “fatten up the appearance a little. The challenge will be to create a foundation for the new wall wrap. I don’t know if I can add a foundation (a second one) poured around the exterior of the house and what that means for “depth of it” and rat walls below the frost heave line, etc. It might not even be worth it. It seems to me a foundation for an additional wrap would have to be tightly integrated to the original, meaning it would cause a huge digging and excavation expense and drilling of rebar into the original foundation to “repour” a new one around the original. It seems the biggest mistake a builder can make is to make a wrong sized foundation. So I’m not sure the wrap is possible.

    With or without wrap. I may just add insulation inside the house and make the interior walls thicker and lose some room. I’d like to get rid of some of the southern windows, perhaps with movable portable thick shades that would add insulative windows for night time. The front of the house faces north and has almost no windows which is ideal for cold weather and no southern loss of heat via wind elements from the north. I’ve even thought of a Mound against the northern wall and make it into a partial sunken ranch from that approach. kind of a half earth ship. But I’m not sure the neighbors would like that. These are major modifications in a sense of losing some of the original look, but geared toward energy efficiency.

    To me an ideal house of the future would have zoned natural and artificial heated and cooled areas, core areas would be artificially heated, optional rooms would rely on passive heating and cooling and would rarely use fuel at all, just passive. If you don’t like the comfort of that room, move to a core survival area. this would allow apartment like heating in a larger house, because you only heat or cool your core areas. The crap and extra activities can happen in less energy intensive areas of the house. This is more design theory than current reality.

    Also of course I’m actually hoping to go geothermal and use that to cool and heat the house as well. I don’t know about solar, however. I don’t think that site is ideal for solar, since i have trees and neigbors and the ranch is probably going to be obscured. And also solar in Michigan is not as affordable, as we have less sunlight. I think that I’d rather use mostly wind power, but in a city or suburb it’s not really an option and thats better for rural life or high wind areas and takes a lot of acreage due to “code requirements” for offsets to propery and height of the tower, blade above the ground etc. Ironically objections to wind power come from groups who want to protect birds from wind generator blades. Where the wind blows birds like to fly as migration patterns match wind patterns. Why? Birds are saving energy and want to ride natural wind currents, so they tend to fly in paths where there’s strong wind during migration. Bird lovers however are a bit outside logic when they protest wind generators, because very few birds are killed by them. Birds the lovers try to save, like raptors, will kill thousands of other birds for food, so actually conservation programs to save falcons and other rare raptors kill far more birds than windmills. An average raptor will kill thousand if not tens of thousands of birds a year for food. Perhaps more birds are killed by a family of raptors than all birds killed by all wind mills in the world. That being the case, it’s difficult to object to wind power for “saving the bird” reasons. Also raptors are very intelligent and even use buildings as part of their killing activities. They may fly a larger bird into a window to shock it as a part of the kill.

    Overall the major challenge in the future is building very highly efficient compact houses, perhaps earth ships with “energie styled” modules, like highly insulated trailers inside of them. And create a long term vehicle for cold weather that’s fully electric and very lightweight for more solo transportation and shopping needs. This means something way beyond the 100 MPG X-Prize contest car, toward 500 to 1000 MPG electric, meaning enclosed recumbent bicycle styled vehicles that can work in winter, and yet use a small electric motor powered by one car battery. This 200 lb enclosed trike would be powered by a 500 to 1000 watt electric motor, giving it a top urban speed of 40MPH and a range of perhaps 40 miles between charges. Energy from a 3.7 kilowatt “skystream” wind generator would provide enough current in one month to power the enclosed velomobile like electric trike for 15,000 miles. The energy from the other 11 months of production would be used for your enclosed earth ship, with optional seasonal rooms. Greenhouses for enclosed vegitable farming and a few chickens would round off an off grid post peak oil life, almost completely independent of future oil needs. Cars and trucks would only be rented occassionally for big jobs. Compressed earth blocks and straw bale would be a big part of construction as well as earth and bermed housing.

    That’s what is needed for a sustainable future. I kind of cringe thinking about buying a house in the suburbs and long to have the long term place out in the country with an energy efficient way to get to the city job. But that’s not very possible right now. Unless I can telecommute.

    By the way, long term greener low energy footprints require lower level electrical and greener gadgets, like the XO computer. I’m very geeked up about that and already have my own xo laptop for modelling that greener future and testing.

  4. Allan Scott November 16, 2007 at 11:58 am

    The ASAP house incororates two of the most reasonable and (nearly) accessable off-the-grid energy products available today [Geothermal and Active Solar].
    Would it be possible to offer components as a “kit” to retrofit existing ranch style houses? Could value be realized by the consumer and your company to offer these products and services? Or would it be more practical for a retrofitter to sub-contract the pieces themselves?

  5. Laszlo Kiss November 6, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Thank you for all of your insightful comments and suggestions. We at ASAP house are always open to new ideas and try to synthesize information that is available and useful to improve our product.

    I would like to clarify a couple of things that were raised in the discussion above.

    1. We chose a flat roof for the ASAP house for a few reasons and when we say flat roof it does not mean that it’s dead flat. The ASP house roof is pitched 1/4″ over 1-0 from the center to the two sides of the house. The roofing material is an EPDM membrane, a single-ply rubber roofing that ages well, resists extreme cold and heat, has low life-cycle cost and is an inert material with limited environmental impact during manufacture and use. A flat roof actually uses less lumber then a typical sloped roof and since the ASAP house will be placed on many different sites that have varying orientation the flat roof allows us to optimize the orientation of the PV panels to always face south.

    2. It was brought up that the ASAP house by being a ranch takes up too much space. The first house is being placed on a 100 foot by 200 ft plot and it will fit on plots smaller than that. The house is a product designed for the American Public who is used to much, much larger houses then the ASAP. We made sure that we kept the area to 2500 sf for the 4br version and 2000 sf for the 3br both of which are within the parameters set up by LEED.

    3. As much as we believe that passive solar is the best solution to heating and cooling a house it does come with many restrictions as to the siting of a house. Since the ASAP house will be placed in many different environments and plots with differing orientations the combination of PV and very efficient Geothermal was the best solution. Geothermal use the constant 55F temperature of the earth to cool an heat. The earth (ground) is the best solar energy available since it absorbs over 50% of the energy the sun send to earth. Outdoor temperatures fluctuate with the changing seasons but underground temperatures don’t. Four to six feet below the earth’s surface, temperatures remain relatively constant year-round. A geothermal system, which typically consists of an indoor unit and a buried earth loop, capitalizes on these constant temperatures to provide “free” energy. In winter, fluid circulating through the system’s earth loop absorbs stored heat and carries it indoors. The indoor unit compresses the heat to a higher temperature and distributes it throughout the building. In summer, the system reverses, pulling heat from the building, carrying it through the earth loop and depositing it in the cooler earth.

    The question was raised as to what is holding up the permitting. Even though we spent over one and a half years planning and researching the ASAP house we only started the building process in July of 2007. Since it is the first one to be built it needed to be certified by New York State and that has taken a little while longer then anticipated (the State was a bit slow). We needed the State approved drawings to be able to submit our application to the local authorities. So far the total elapsed time from start to today is only four month and we anticipate that the house will be finished under the six month time frame we allowed for. Now that is ASAP.

    Thank you to all. Keep the great comments flowing and the conversation open.

    ASAP house

  6. Carleton Schade November 6, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    The ASAP house of Laszlo KIss is where we are going, and where we need to be going fast. All of nature’s indicators speak of global strain, and yet we the relatively affluent remain impervious to it. We are still demanding large homes and automobiles and everything else our American birthright grants us. Here, Mr. Laszlo Kiss stands at the forefront of the necessary change of consciousness. And he does so asking little from us. He gives us plenty of room, all the amenities and gives it to in a way as friendly to the environment as there is. In this house, form and function work seamlessly in t

    His method of manufacturing, I note, has the great unseen advantage of greatly reducing the growth of mold. In these wet environs, allergies and asthma are highly aggravated by mold, much of it interior to our homes. Traditional house construction requires houses to sit months in the elements, growing the initial mold which we then insulate into our home with us.

  7. Joni November 6, 2007 at 10:30 am

    There is a special I’ve written on green architecture that explores everything from straw bales and passive solar to sustainable skyscrapers and vertical farms.

    http://www.clubofpioneers.com/blogs/special/building-green/
    It’s all about combining ancient knowledge with scientific developments when it comes to sustainable architecture.

  8. The Nourisher November 4, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    There is a new book coming out about architecture and the environment. It’s called “How to Build a Village” It’s a world changer that’s for sure. I interviewed the author recently.

    http://nourishedmagazine.com.au/blog/articles/how-to-build-a-village-by-claude-lewenz

    This book is the second most exciting book I’ve ever read.

  9. Leonard E. Sienko, Jr. November 4, 2007 at 12:40 am

    How does the PV array on the flat center roof, which is lower than the porch roofs, produce electricity when its covered with snow?

    MK what was your flat roof made of?

    How does the “geothermal” work with no geothermal “geyser” areas in New York State?

    I don’t mean to throw snow on the concept; but these items should be answered in the FAQ’s. It will be interesting to follow the installation in Sag Harbor, once the building permits are issued. There isn’t any detail about what’s holding up the permits.

  10. mk November 3, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    I have lived in a flat roof house in the north east, and on long island for 12 years. Through some incredibly harsh rainfall seasons, as well as some of the snowiest winters we have had in the north east in some time. NEVER had ANY problems or issues with the flat roof, in fact our neighbors had much much worse problems with their pitched shingle roofs than I ever did. We even had solar up there for our pool heater. I have always wondered why the there is this strange attitude that “modern” flat roof homes “seem out of place” in the north east? This JUST isn’t true. The “aesthetic” is not just an “aesthetic” for a “region”, it is “FUNCTIONAL” as well.
    As for Land Sprawl, I would much prefer an ASAP house to the monstrous 6-7,000 sq. ft. McMansions being built on one acre lots. Replacing houses like my own with such waste in this day is just despicable to me. Not only do they tear down the house and put it in land fill, they then CLEAR CUT THE TREES FROM THE LOT AS WELL!!!!! Give me a developer willing to build something like an ASAP house development and then I will believe there may be some hope for housing in this country.
    KUDOS to ASAP House! Hope to see streets and streets of these on google earth!!!!!! All reflecting their solar panels to the sky!!!!!!

  11. JS November 3, 2007 at 9:28 am

    yeah that design seems out of place in the northeast…aesthetically, but most importantly, in its structural components and this region’s climate and weather.

    and the most “environmentally friendly” (that phrase always bothers me!) is passive solar, not geothermal!

  12. J November 3, 2007 at 6:28 am

    Again … another “bungalow” style dwelling — which, of necessity, doubles (or triples) the necessary footprint of each dwelling! Just imagine the amount of land that would be used up if this became the norm – as populations continue to increase and with so much agricultural land already gone to, or threatened with being changed into, housing developments.

    “Sustainability” doesn’t – or shouldn’t – stop at the exterior walls of a dwelling … meaning there’s much more to it than just building materials, heating & power. And, IMHO, land use – so as not to misuse – should be at the very top of the priority list.

    Cheers
    J

  13. mais de 2 mil posts em ... November 3, 2007 at 12:32 am

    [...] A casa pré-fabricada que ajuda a salvar o planeta – este vai para o Faça a Sua Parte (vale checar as dicas de sacolas ecológicas que a Sílvia deixou por lá). [...]

  14. A.V. Poller November 2, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    The concept is admirable but it looks as though the designer has a California state of mind instead of New York. How much of the cost is in mitigating the load necessary to carry snow pack on a flat roof. Drought aside, I would not want to expend $200/sf or more on a flat roof in my neck of the woods here below the Mason Dixon line due to typically high rainfall. I would hope that these items might be addressed as this model moves closer to production.

  15. A.V. Poller November 2, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    The concept is admirable but it looks as though the designer has a California state of mind instead of New York. How much of the cost is in mitigating the load necessary to carry snow pack on a flat roof. Drought aside, I would want to expend $200/sf or more on a flat roof in my neck of the woods here below the Mason Dixon line due to typically high rainfall. I would hope that these items might be addressed as this model moves closer to production.

  16. Adam Davidson November 2, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    This type of model is what we need. Something sustainable, livable, and functional outside the sunniest states. I’ve talked endlessly (talked) on how current architecture, on the whole, is ludicrously incompetent at real efficiency, i.e. using the sun and the earth to heat, cool, and light, making less the need for power production. Definitely a step in the right direction… On a note: I’m organizer for a sustainability event in Greeley, CO in the end of January, 2008. Anyone who can contribute, please email me. adam.davidson@unco.edu

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