Joe Tanney on the Swingline House
"It's too big. It's a second home in the Hamptons. Why is this green? Why is this on TreeHugger?"
There. I have saved everyone the trouble of posting comments. Or, you can go to Inhabitat and cut and paste the comments from there. It is an issue we face every time we show a Tesla Roadster or big modern prefab- the early adopters and the great architectural patrons of this world usually have a lot of money; they can afford to take risks on new technologies or unproven architects. We all hope for a sort of prefab Reaganomics, a trickle-down theory where the ideas, systems and love of modern design will move through the marketplace and make modern prefab affordable and accessible. In the meantime, we asked Joe Tanney of Resolution 4, the designer of the project, (and who was clearly hurt by the Inhabitat post) to answer the question- "Why is this green?"
"The house is yes, 4200 sf, very large relative to our 2000 sf average - but restrained relative to many of the 10,000 sf behemoths in the area. This is a house for a family of 6 including 4 children. Yes, it is a 2nd home, used as an all-year-round refuge for the core 6 person family, extended family, and many many visiting friends. It is used for relaxing, entertaining, and working. It is located 1/2 mile down the road from the jitney bus stop to the city, thus often eliminating the use of the auto, (not to mention, they live in Manhattan and walk / subway to school & work, thus having a smaller daily carbon footprint as a family, than most individuals who drive to work everyday)."
"I know you are fully aware that the shades of green darken when one leverages off-site construction, especially modular, which produces a low amount of waste relative to site building the same home. Our factory, SIMPLEX, builds to energy star standards. (they are very proud of their recycling program, recycling aluminum, drywall, siding, wood, cardboard, wire and even paint containers to name just a few.)
All of our RES4 modern modulars are designed to meet and exceed LEED standards."
"In addition to leveraging existing prefabrication methods of delivery, we use a number of sustainable practices and materials in the design of our homes. Most significant is our ability to respond to each site specifically in terms of solar orientation and footprint by using our modern modular system, maximizing each site's micro-climate. As you know, off-site construction reduces time that construction crews are on site, minimizing the impact on natural ecosystems and decreasing waste deposited on or near the site. All materials used in our designs are considered. For example, all of the windows we specify are Argon filled low-E glazing; the bamboo floors we specify contain the lowest formaldehyde content in the industry (0.0127pp); adhesives, paints, and finishes through out our homes are all low-VOC products, certified by the GREENGUARD environmental Institute for providing a complete low VOC surface system; plumbing fixtures are low flow; and appliances are typically energy star rated."
" All hardwoods in our cabinets purchased are certified through a recognized sustainable forestry program. The exterior cembonit panels are made from 99% renewable resources including water, sand, cement, mineral fibers and cellulose fibers. Items such as high-efficiency air-handling units, boilers, and tankless water heaters are common in our homes as well. something as simple as using dimmers for all lights can increase the life of the bulb 4x when set at 90%, thus requiring less energy. Many of our homes have radiant heat and no AC. We are currently working on many projects employing alternative energy sources, specifically photovoltaic solar panels, so we can accomplish net-metering, and geothermal, using the earth's thermal mass to cool & heat the home. Green roofs are also something we are now incorporating into several projects.
"The anti-christ of prefab and sustainability? Please."
This TreeHugger spent five years trying to build small, affordable, modern prefab and failed, finding only one wonderful visionary patron; that's how these things get their start. I am also the writer who always says that the key to sustainability is living with less. However there is much to learn from these first steps in modern prefab. The lessons learned in the Swingline will be applied to every subsequent version, the processes will get more streamlined and cost-effective, and some day a developer will walk in to Joe's office with land (the big affordability problem) and a vision of a community of smaller, affordable modern prefabs. In the meantime, thanks, Joe, for showing us this and answering the question. ::Resolution 4