Seattle-based Method Homes just unveiled their new Paradigm series of net-zero energy and water prefab house at the US Greenbuild Conference and Expo in San Francisco. The 722 square foot home features an impressive set of sustainable features, including a rooftop solar array, rainwater collection and filtering, and even mini greenhouses watered with greywater. Through the intelligent use of natural lighting, integration with outdoor spaces, and some incredibly cool, versatile furniture, the Paradigm home makes the most of its modest footprint. The home is targeting both LEED platinum and six of the seven petals of the Living Building Challenge.
Designed for Method Homes by New York-based Bogue Trondowski Architects, the Paradigm series is planned in its entirety to be as low-impact as possible. Clad in FSC-certified western red cedar (but available in other cladding), the wood is sourced from sustainable forests located within 200 miles of Method Home’s plant. The decking—which expands the Paradigm home’s square footage to 722—is created from a composite of recycled materials and bamboo, while the flooring inside the home is all renewable bamboo. Non-VOC paints and finishes, and formaldehyde-free FSC bamboo cabinets maintain a sustainable, non-toxic atmosphere. A perforated corten steel brow provides shade from the southern summer sun, but does not obscure lower winter sunlight.
A 4KW photovoltaic system on the building’s roof provides the home with all the energy it needs, and more. Method Homes explained that in theory the house can “run on the energy of a hair dryer,” and as such, they have employed a number of tactics in order to attain a net-zero energy rating. The building is highly insulated with R-48 ceiling insulation, R-33+ tapered foam roof insulation, and R-31 exterior wall insulation. A mini split HVAC system and energy recovery ventilator help further drive down energy consumption, while automated shading and a lutron radiora system help to provide greater control over energy usage.
The water management for the Paradigm house has several levels; rainwater is diverted from the home’s roof to a 5,000 gallon free-standing outdoor tank, from which water is filtered for domestic use. Greywater is then collected for irrigation and fed directly to two small outdoor greenhouses where produce can be grown. The home’s compost toilet could potentially provide fertilizer for this on-site veggie patch.
The home’s 722 square foot size additionally helps to moderate energy usage and reduce its carbon footprint. However, Trondowski’s design does not sacrifice a sense of open, livable space. One wall of floor-to-ceiling glass doors—which does at present prevent the home from meeting Passivhaus standards—opens out onto the deck and fills the home with light while providing views that help the space to feel significantly larger.
Ostensibly comprised of a single large room with a kitchen to one end, and a bathroom and utilities closet to the other, Method Homes worked with New York-based Resource Furniture to fit out the model home. Resource’s durable made-to-order items create highly adaptable spaces with mutuality-functional, elegant pieces. In the Paradigm model, a sectional couch serves also as the base for a bed that folds away from the wall, a small coffee table can extend into a ten-foot dining table, and two simple ottomans can be re-assembled as ten upholstered stools. The company uses water-based lacquers and FSC-CoC certified materials, and their mattresses are biodegradable and solvent-free.
The house is highly adaptable and customizable. While all the current systems that bring the Paradigm home to net-zero energy and water are based on a specific location in Mendocino, California, they can easily be altered to suit various locations. With a prefab modular construction, the Paradigm home can also be expanded into two other configurations of two-bed (1,312 square feet) and three-bed (1,868 square feet).