Modular homes and energy-efficient, “net-zero” homes have long occupied opposite poles of the building-reputation spectrum.
On one end, modulars are known for affordability and assembly speed, but also a lingering association with the trailer park or cookie-cutter tracts of ranches.
On the other, net-zero houses bring to mind high price tags, complex gagetry and unconventional, modern architecture.
Now a new enterprise from Rhode Island renewable energy guru Bob Chew and Providence architects Union Studio hopes to find a harmonious middle ground in joining these two building concepts.
Called Redberry, the collaboration has designed a series of modular homes featuring Union’s traditional New England architecture and Chew’s solar technology. The homes will be manufactured by Epoch Homes of New Hampshire.
“We have always had an interest in sustainability but have been explicit that we weren’t interested in all the gadgets that usually seem to go with it,” said Union Studio principal Donald Powers. “We felt you should be able to live in a net-zero home and not have everyone who walks by know it is a net-zero home.”
With wood shingles, clean lines and compact floor plans, Redberry houses are designed to fit in with old New England neighborhoods and appeal to buyers outside of the environmental or techie worlds.
But despite their historically inspired appearance, Redberry homes will try to capitalize on improvements in manufactured-home systems that many see as the future of residential construction.
“Modular homes struggle with the legacy of trailers,” Powers said. “The best ones are factory-built homes with more quality control than you can have in the field. The only constraint is the dimensional restrictions because you have to ship them over the road. But that can be solved.”
PBN is now accepting applications for its newest award program and event for RI & Bristol County to celebrate the Manufacturing Renaissance that is evolving regionally and across the country. The deadline for applications is March 20th.
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.