The BrightBuilt Barn, located in Rockwood, Maine, is one of the super energy-efficient prefab designs of the year. A highly covetable structure, this barn/studio is not only a net-zero house — meaning it strives to leave no carbon footprint — it is also seeking LEED Platinum certification. While the current prototype was designed as a studio/workspace, the barn is constructed on 4-foot modules so additional modules can be added as specified. But we think one of the most interesting features of the prefab is the LED light skirt that lets you know if the building is generating more or less energy than it is using.
The light skirt offers a way to measure energy use, if the skirt glows green, the house is generating more energy than it is using. When it is yellow, it is about equal, and when it is red, the house is using more energy than it is generating. Which makes us wonder, is this the new version of a glass house — where all the neighbors will know exactly how energy efficient their neighbors are? Hopefully they also have an interior monitor that gives them the same information, otherwise they’ll be walking outside all the time to check to see if they’re glowing green or red.
Another very eco-friendly feature of the home is its super insulation. The triple glazed super insulating windows and the R-40 walls, floors and ceilings provide such an excellent thermal envelope that the home doesn’t need a furnace, even in Maine. On days when the home does need a little more warmth, an evacuated tube solar water heating system steps in to keep the space cozy and snug. And the system is designed to save an estimated 137 gallons of domestic hot water annually.
The 700-square foot barn was designed by Kaplan Thompson, and built by Bensonwood Homes. 90% of the building was prefabricated off-site by Bensonwood Woodworking — a construction process that increased material efficiency by allowing for precise computer-assisted fabrication.
We love the barn design, the lovely and bright interior, and the solar generating capabilities. And now that the architects and builders have their prototype design up, they are gearing up to offer the home for a base price of $200,000. Needless to say, we expect a very bright future for this prefab design.
Photography by Naomi C. O. Beal