“Sustainable, Affordable, Prefab: The ecoMOD Project”

Happy Earth Day!

We often think of “green building” as a flashing architectural style reserved for expensive building projects – shiny wind turbines, vast solar arrays, even vertical farms.  But, as the University of Virginia’s ecoMOD Project demonstrates, sustainable buildings can also be affordable places to call home.

In his latest book, Sustainable, Affordable, Prefab: The ecoMOD Project, architecture professor John Quale describes the collaborative project, which originally grew out of the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon.  Each ecoMOD home is a partnership with a local affordable housing agency, including Habitat for Humanity, as well as students and professors from a wide variety of disciplines.  The project has moved in a cycle of phases – Design, Build, Evaluate – aimed at engaging students on different fronts.

I had the chance to visit the ecoMOD3 site, the SEAM house, as an undergraduate planning student at UVa.  What I particularly remember was the homeowner’s enthusiasm over his low energy costs, a component of housing affordability that is sometimes easy to forget.

In class, Quale reminded us that maximum energy performance could only happen when the homeowner was invested.  Minor adjustments need to be made on a day-to-day basis, depending on things like sunlight intensity.  As Quale put it, homeowners have to learn “how to drive their home.”

To check out a recent talk by John Quale on ecoMOD, visit CSPAN.

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