November 5th, 2014 | More in Modular Homes

Modular Home Construction Makes Sense for Green Builds

The kitchen in the modular Greenbuild homeThe Greenbuild LivingHome features clean, modern lines and a southern design to honor the New Orleans architectural heritage and maximize air flow and efficiency. Courtesy: Lloyd Alter

Recently, Palm Harbor Homes was privileged to be chosen to work with Hanley Wood, LivingHomes, the Greenbuild Conference and Expo, the International Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, and Make it Right (MIR), a Brad Pitt foundation, to build a modular show home that would ultimately be set in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans as part of the MIR’s nonprofit architecturally and ecologically progressive rebuilding project following Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. At the same time, the design, the home, its construction and its finishes must demonstrate the latest in green building technologies and practices.

Consequently, the LivingHome modular home was designed and built to be exceptionally sustainable with superior resilience, durability and affordability with an attractive and livable modern design aesthetic. It was designed by architect Amy Sims with three “modules” making up the enclosed living area and two large shaded porches for outdoor living.

Greenbuild modular home on elevated foundation in 9th WardThe Greenbuild LivingHome reaches its final destination on an elevated foundation in the Make It Right development in New Orleans’s Lower 9th Ward. Courtesy:

High ceilings, windows, ceiling fans and minisplit heat pumps with continuous ducts help keep the interior area of the home energy efficient as do solar panels. The plan is that the LivingHome will become the first LEED v4 Platinum certified home, able to save its owners up to $130 per month in utility costs. Additionally, the home is constructed of an antimicrobial, anti-mildew drywall that can capture any VOCs brought into the home.

“Our homes are differentiated by both more modern design and an extremely comprehensive LEED Platinum-level program,” says Steve Glenn, CEO of LivingHomes, the project’s design firm. Considering the weather and other challenges the home will face in the Lower 9th Ward, the home must be able to endure some of the harshest weather conditions nature can deliver.

Given these demanding design, construction and performance standards in addition to the tight construction and transportation window dictated by the show, the relocation and the final destination of the home, Palm Harbor’s modular home construction was the right fit for this modern concept home.

Steve Glenn explained that modular home construction makes the most sense. The primary advantage modular construction provided for this project was the massive reduction in construction time required when a home is built in and environmentally-controlled building center. Secondly, having teams of people working together on the home in stations is a great deal more efficient than coordinating groups of subcontractors and supply deliveries. These and other modular construction advantages result in lower home cost, produce significantly less construction waste and result in higher quality construction.

Lloyd Alter of said, “The house is built by Palm Harbor Homes in Austin, Texas, which has come a long way since I toured their plant a decade ago, where the chain-driven production line moved so fast I was almost run over by a house. This is a quality build.”

Palm Harbor Homes Modular ConstructionPalm Harbor Homes team members work on the Greenbuild LivingHome in the Austin, Texas, building center. Courtesy: Hanley Wood

Jason Pollard, Make It Right’s research design development manager, confirmed that factory-built prefabrication does provide a more highly controlled building process. However, he also pointed out that shipping anything, including a home, is an expense that must be calculated into the cost factor before making a decision. Especially one as important as modular home construction.

When the Greenbuild LivingHome was moved from the convention center to the Lower 9th Ward, it was then craned into place on an elevated foundation of 65 rock-solid piers. The piers will keep the home 5 feet above ground level. According to Make It Right sources, the home will be sold for roughly $165,000 to a Lower 9th Ward resident.

If you are in the market for a modular home, Palm Harbor Homes has a model designed to meet your needs and suit your tastes. Palm Harbor homes are innovative, attractive and convenient. For more information about building on your land, manufactured homes, and modular homes, connect with Palm Harbor Homes at, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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The opinions expressed by the article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Palm Harbor Homes.


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