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Prefabricated Homes Make Environmental Sense

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday April 15th, 2009 | 4 Comments

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A recent article for the environmental news site, Grist.org proclaims, “…the trailer park, done right, actually holds great potential as a development model.” If you are thinking this writer is a bit daft, consider a few things about manufactured (mobile) houses. They are built in a factory, then assembled before they are delivered, which reduces the transportation impact on the environment. The construction of site-built homes requires workers to travel to and from the site. Waste is also reduced because it can be collected and used on another site. In short, manufactured houses are more sustainable.
Although Sustain MiniHome’s mobile homes are the typical rectangular structure, they are about as different from the typical mobile homes as you can get. The company’s website touts the following features of its manufactured homes:
1. Natural and rapidly renewable materials
2. Non-toxic healthy finishes
3. Passive solar heating
4. Natural ventilation
5. Air-tight construction
6. Tankless boiler/water heater
7. Hybrid energy systems such as solar and wind


MiniHomes are designed to be in trailer parks. At first they will be placed in empty spaces in existing trailer parks. MiniHome designer, Andy Thompson is partnering with Canadian trailer park owners to transform them into sustainable places. Thompson wants the parks to have organic gardens, community solar power, wind turbines, electric vehicle fleets, and pet waste compost collection areas.
“If you look at all the ground rules and best practices guidelines for perfect ecotopia villages, you’re going to see all the things you find in a [Canadian] trailer park,” said MiniHome designer, Andy Thompson.
Modular homes offer more traditional look
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Modular homes look like site built homes because their parts are assembled on-site. Just looking at a picture of one of Atlantic Homes’ manufactured houses, they look like a typically built house. However, as the company’s website puts it, manufactured houses have a shorter construction time which translates into less “impact on the environment.”
Modular homes create less waste than site-built homes. “In a modular plant, recycling is huge,” said Chad Harvey, the deputy director of the Modular Building Systems Association. “Everything is used and reused.”
Modtech, a company with headquarters in California, Arizona, and Florida, touts the
construction process of manufactured homes as “dramatically” reducing material waste. The company’s website lists six ways that waste is reduced during its construction process:
1. Cardboard is recycled through mulching to create new cardboard.
2. Copper wire is melted down to make new wire.
3. Large wood pieces are reused directly to create shipping pallets.
4. Small wood pieces are ground and used in an electrical generation plant.
5. Steel is melted down and reused.
6. Waste office paper, run-off water, oils, excess paint, used filters, paint residue, used aerosol cans and empty caulking tubes are sent out for processing
Seattle-based Stillwater Dwellings believes that homes should be constructed in ways that considerably reduce the impact on the environment “both during and after construction.” According to the company, modular factories are able to reduce waste by 50 to 75 percent.
Modular homes are built to last. Stalwart Built Homes creates manufactured houses that can withstand winds up to 200 miles per hour. Based in Panama City, Florida, the company will manufacture hundreds of modular homes for Gretna, Louisiana, a city that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Building in the factory gives us more control of the product,” said company president Julius Poston.
Photo Source: Treehugger


▼▼▼      4 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • Nick Chambers

    Hey, thanks for the link back to my NYT Green Inc post on modular homes. Really appreciate it. If I ever get a chance to have my own home built, I’m definitely going the modular route… it just has so many more advantages.

  • http://www.modularhomesprices.org/ Modular homes prices

    So good to see PREFAB going forward. We are another option for those who are searching for a more “tradtional” type of architecture- or need to honor a historic design venue We have been doing PRE-fab in the Southeast since 1999. Architectural Building Systems is an award-winning, architecturally-driven design/build firm. Let us know if we can collaborate in any way.

  • http://www.modularhomesprices.org/ Modular homes prices

    So good to see PREFAB going forward. We are another option for those who are searching for a more “tradtional” type of architecture- or need to honor a historic design venue We have been doing PRE-fab in the Southeast since 1999. Architectural Building Systems is an award-winning, architecturally-driven design/build firm. Let us know if we can collaborate in any way.

  • http://www.modularhomesnetwork.com/ modular homes

    Modular Homes Make Sense. Factory-built homes offer all the amenities of traditionally … “The homes are built in a factory!