If you aren’t yet sold on factory-built housing, the gorgeous prefab Unity home may have what it takes to change your mind. Unveiled as this year’s Greenbuild demonstration project, this beautiful net-zero home can pop up in less than three days, but is designed to last centuries. Most impressively, the Unity home is a beacon for sustainable design: the prefab dwelling is built to LEED v4 Platinum and net zero-energy standards and is outfitted with the largest collection of Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified building products ever used in a residential project.
Constructed by Unity Homes in collaboration with BUILDER magazine and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, the 2015 Greenbuild Unity Home was fully constructed at Unity’s New Hampshire-based factory over the course of five weeks and assembled on the Expo floor in just three days. The 1,620-square-foot net-zero-ready house is based off of Unity’s contemporary Zūm model and comprises a system of prefab pods and panels including sheathing, wiring, insulation, and finishes. Building a pathway to affordable homes is key to the Unity Home design. The house is currently priced to about $150 per square foot and could drop below $140 per square foot in 2016.
To meet its ambitious net-zero energy targets, the Unity home features over a dozen state-of-the-art C2C-certified products, from the Naturepedic mattresses to the Icestone countertops. The most surprising C2C product was the SunPower solar panels—the first and only solar panels to receive C2C certification—made from non-hazardous materials and equipped with an energy meter and app. “The number and different types of products in the Unity home shows that every aspect of your environment can be cradle to cradle,” says C2C’s Built Environment VP Stacy Glass. C2C-certified Shaw carpets line the interior (as well as the Greenbuild Expo floors).
The two-bedroom, two-bath Unity Home shell was completed in just a day and a half, while the furnishings and additions were completed just two additional days. GreenFiber Cel-Pak cellulose insulation (made of 85% recycled paper fibers) and Huber Engineered Woods’ ZIP Systems wall and roofing panels create an airtight envelope that targets .6 ACH50. Though the triple-glazed unplasticized PVC (uPVC) Intus windows are operable, opening them up isn’t necessary. Bringing in fresh air is a breeze thanks to the Zehnder ComfoSystems CA 200 model—certified at 92% efficiency by the Passive House Institute—that uses heat recovery ventilation and funnels a constant flow of filtered fresh air into the home.
“We can totally change the equation of homebuilding,” said Unity Homes Founder Tedd Benson. “We can build homes that are fossil-fuel free and affordable. We can build homes in 30 days that are around for 300 years…and we can do it in a way that’s stress-free…for all of us.” The Unity Home will be moved to a permanent site in New Hampshire after Greenbuild. Virtual tours of the home will be available online in the first week of December.
Images © Lucy Wang