From ORGANIC CONNECTIONS:
By Mitchell Clute
Modular homes are quickly becoming an exciting option for those embracing the “less is more” lifestyle. They can be cute, sophisticated, tailor-made and super green. Seattle-based GreenPod Development is at the forefront of designing such small-footprint homes. Featuring natural interiors, excellent insulation and customizable options, GreenPod’s designs are the future of modular.
“To me, modular represents one of the highest levels of building green,” Ann Raab, company founder, tells Organic Connections. GreenPod uses woods and panels certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which waste less of the tree than traditional lumber. The combination of compact spaces, insulated panels, passive solar orientation and energy-saving features makes for much lower upkeep costs than traditional homes, Raab says.
A GreenPod home can be built off-site and then assembled on-site in a few days. On-site building takes longer—two to three months versus the nine months to a year for traditional stick-frame homes—but allows for lofts, widths greater than 16 feet, and other custom features.
In either case, the materials generate great cost savings over the life of the homes. “We’re trying to educate people about a home’s real costs,” explains Raab. “In the fifty-year cycle of a house, only 6 percent of the costs are building costs. And though our insulated panels cost more upfront, they have a 2.7-year payback—that’s what people should understand.”
Clean Green Interiors
But green is more than skin-deep. Because the structures are so airtight, having chemical-free interiors is even more important. “We wanted to focus on using organics in the house, with plant-based dyes for all the sheets and towels, no toxic fabrics, and American clay-wall finishes that are antimicrobial and resist mold.”
To make the home interiors as green as possible, garages are located away from the living spaces, the inside air is kept clean and healthy through filtration, and there are even options for on-demand variable water pH and the ability to turn off electromagnetic fields.
Small Footprints, Local Artisans
GreenPod uses space-saving measures such as Murphy beds, stackable tables and multipurpose spaces so that residents can make the most of the space they use. These efficiencies allow the design team to really focus on fitting the space to the owners’ needs.
“We really want to create something that’s more of a jewel,” Raab continues. “Rather than create the same kitchen over and over, we create art you can live in, where everything has a function.” Examples of these custom creations include handmade sliding doors and LED lighting options, and furniture made to fit the home’s footprint.
“By encouraging smaller footprints and sustainable living, with multiuse spaces that offer more flexibility, we help people create houses that work for them—and also save money for the future,” says Raab.
With a small-house movement in full swing and prefabricated home-building options that were unavailable a decade ago, builders like GreenPod may just give modular a whole new meaning. And that’s a good thing—for us and for the planet.
Learn more about GreenPod Development at greenpoddevelopment.com.