Remotely located in southwestern Montana in the Ruby Valley is the Ruby Springs Prefab, designed and built by Bozeman-based Medicine Hat Inc. Prefabrication was chosen for the home as a way to reduce the impact of transportation to the home's site. The home is practically net-zero with the help of a solar PV system and a geothermal heat pump. Roll up windows and hydraulic screens modulate views of the Ruby Mountains, while opening the interiors up to the outdoors. The screens can also be shut to protect what's within from the elements.
The home acts as a big filter, or a frame, for the landscape, and each window and opening captures a specific view in its cross hairs — whether that be the fields in front of the house or the mountains in the distance. Roll-up, garage style windows allow the home to turn inside out, and shade screens on the south can move at a moment’s notice. Off-the-shelf hydraulic actuators can raise or lower the screens for variations of shade and views. The home can respond quickly and easily to changes in light and weather conditions, as well as to the desired view.
In order to give such an open house a low carbon footprint, and to keep it as close to net zero as possible, Medicine Hat Inc decided to focus their efforts not so much on a tight, high performance envelope, but instead on renewable energy. The theory being that if the energy is clean and renewable, then it doesn’t really matter how much of it you use. Many may differ with this opinion, but if an owner is willing to pay for a larger PV system in order to have their dream home and still have a net zero home, then we commend them. Besides the PV system on the roof, the home, when closed, relies on geothermal heating and cooling and propane is used for cooking.
Fabricated into sections, modules and sub-assemblies in Bozeman, MT, the Ruby Springs Prefab was then transported to the remote site near Sheridan. Prefabrication significantly reduced the number of trips to and from the site as well as transportation of the materials, contractors and tradesmen. Materials are all low VOC, the flooring is cork, reclaimed Douglas Fir is used on the trim, doors, furniture, and exterior shade screens, and finally all the windows have lowE coatings.
Images ©Will Brewster courtesy of Medicine Hat Inc.