In the fallout from the recession, I'm hearing a little bit here and a little bit there about green housing projects. But what I seem to be hearing a lot about is prefabricated, modular projects or buildings constructed of pieces made at a factory. Whether cottage dwellings to go in a backyard or totally separate houses, this field seems to have an underlying invigorating energy, leaving me to wonder if it's the next big thing?GreenFab- Johnny Hartsfield and Swen Grau - about their very first modular housing project in Jackson Place, pictured at left. GreenFab's overarching goal is to revolutionize housing. But it plans to start now by building well-designed, sustainable, affordable modular projects, or by consulting for others who want to do the same thing. Look for a story soon on this company in the DJC.
You might remember my mentioning GreenFab in a post from last summer here (as a disclaimer from that post, GreenFab's projects will likely not pursue the Living Building Challenge now, though Hartsfield plans to do so in the future). The project is targeting LEED platinum certification.
The other company, Backyard Box, was founded by Seattle green developer Sloan Ritchie. This concept is focused more on backyard cottages. Customers select a design they want with a set price, can choose to payhere.
Then there was June's Backyard Cottage Design Challenge Showcase, hosted by Method Homes (another local developer of prefab projects) and Infiniti RED. The challenge showcased the work of 35 local architects and designers who submitted prefab friendly backyard cottage designs. That showcase can be viewed here. Ideabox of Salem, Ore., is yet another regional prefab company.
On the less-local front, Charles Redell at Sustainable Industries wrote a piece here on August 19 called "Modular Could Lead Commercial Construction Market." In it, he discusses a new partnership between YKK AP America, a manufacturer of building components, and Project FROG, a panelized modular building company. In it, Oliver Stepe of YKK says his company is repositioning towards the next innovation of the built environment.
Then there's this article by Dave Walsh from last October that discusses modular buildings' growth in Holland. If it's growing in Holland, you know there's a chance it will catch on here: http://www.djc.com/news/ae/12011276.