There is a confluence of ideas happening that will generate the efficient, green house of the future. Prefab offers the promise of replication of proven, tested designs with factory controlled quality; digital driving of CNC machines offers tighter tolerances, more effective use of materials and less waste; easy prototyping through 3D fabbing makes housing design more like industrial design, where casting a model can lead to saving a nickel per unit, useless on a single house but huge on a million unit product run. That is why housing is so inefficient, it is all one-offs.
That is why with a dozen green options at the Ontario Association of Architects convention in Toronto, I attended the presentations on "Managing Digital Fabrication: Improving the Dialogue of Design from Idea to Manufacture" to see the future, and what a promising future it is.
I learned about the work of Feature Factory, which uses solidworks software and a room full of equipment to crank out everything from the LongPen to entire showrooms and interiors that can be installed in hours instead of days because they were built on the computer, tested and refined, before they were sent to the CNC cutters and other machines.
Of particular interest to TreeHugger readers, they also modelled an off-grid cottage designed by Toronto architect John Bowron that according to Julian Bowron of Feature Factory, is so energy efficient that "the mice in the kitchen cabinets generate enough heat to keep it warm"
Julian modelled it in 3D down to the smallest elbow on the plumbing, and put the drawings up for all to see, download and build. It is two years old and I suspect if you contacted Julian he would turn on his new machines and print it out, he has the capabilities to do so. Get your free off grid passive house at ::irresidence (warning: some of the links on the site are broken, they are fixing it)
More to come on this marvelous new world.