For those of us trying to radically push energy efficiency ahead, a strong incentive program can be a blessing. That’s what we now have with the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Their Net Zero Energy Building Program provides grant money to non-profits, local governments, and colleges/universities undertaking building to site net zero, typically through Passive House or Net Zero/ILFI Certification. Years ago they would provide funding for LEED projects, but as LEED became more common and the need for energy efficiency more urgent (and attainable!), they raised the bar from LEED to Zero Energy. This is huge—we are seeing an amazing increase in PHIUS buildings: aside from our Park District project, there are at least three other schools and park buildings in construction or design as I write this. Given that the only other PHIUS certified projects in the area at this time of writing are our TBDA designed ones and one affordable multifamily project (Tierra Linda), this is a big deal. It’s also a bit worrisome: for the designers and contractors taking this on for the first time, there will be lessons learned and probably some bumps in the road, just as we’ve had on our projects.
To put this into perspective: we just received grant approval for our Carroll Center project, a retrofit and addition for a park district building that will accommodate preschool, after-school, and adult class programming. It’s about a $1.7M build, and the grant of about $577,000 covers the complexity of the retrofit construction (a gut rehab to eliminate thermal bridges, add insulation, replace windows, and redo mechanical systems), upgrade the new addition to Passive, and cover the certification costs (for energy modeling, rater work, and PHIUS review and certification). Without the grant, the park district would not have been able to justify the costs. So, a big thank you to ICECF!
TBDA’s vision is to design a healthy, beautiful, low-carbon future.
We’re a service profession, so the core of what we do is design buildings where people live, work, and play; but our vision is the attitude and purpose we bring to that service, the reason you would hire or work for us instead of the next firm.
Let’s look at these values—healthy, beautiful, low-carbon–in a little more detail. How do we incorporate these into our work?(more…)
There’s a terrific video my buddy Corbett did for the Illinois Association of Energy Raters called “If Cars Were Built Like Houses.” It challenges homebuyers to think about what level of performance they will get out of the huge investment they’re about to make. What if houses were built like cars—in a factory, with quality control and third-party testing? That’s how we approach modular prefab—a way to get a better, more predictable product. The first thing to know is that a modular prefab house can be a “trailer home” or it can be a high-design high-performance, low-toxicity (no “new car smell”) home. (more…)
It’s our favorite tour of the year, the Green Built Home Tour, and our Modular Prefab Modern Farmhouse will be featured on this year’s tour on July 28-29, 2018. Our amazing clients, Nate & Deb, will open their new home for visitors to tour their innovative, prefab, modular, Zero Energy Ready Home (DOE). Tom will lead tours and answer all your questions about prefab and green design.
Tickets are available for purchase on the Green Built Home Tour site.
The modular prefab “Modern Farmhouse” was designed by TBDA, with module construction provided by Hi-Tech Housing in Bristol, Indiana. The six modules were shipped to the site and erected in one day, with finishes and fixtures being installed on-site by Himelick Contracting. Tom Bassett-Dilley and Eco Achievers led this mid-construction tour, where they described modular prefab process and how the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program ensures energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and durability.
On a perfect late summer day we invited a bunch of friends to watch our first modular prefab house being set.
First off, some terminology: prefab is anything factory-built, so it could be trusses, walls, floors; but modular is when “chunks” of the building (or the whole thing if a tiny house) are built in the factory. We were interested in the efficiency and quality control of prefab, and with modular, we could get windows installed, rough electrical wiring, rough plumbing, air sealing (by using the Zip System for sheathing), cavity insulation, and drywall all done in the factory. In our case, we worked with Hi-Tech Housing of Bristol, IN since they are specifically a custom modular manufacturer, No stock plans here–you just take them whatever you’re interested in building, and they help figure out how to break it into chunks that can be transported on trucks. Once the modules are ready, a “set crew” and crane operator are hired to put it together in the field. (more…)
TBDA is pleased to add another project to the distinguished list of Oak Park, IL architectural “firsts.” Our prefab, modular, Zero Energy Ready Home (DOE) has been built in an Indiana factory by Hi-Tech Housing, and was set in place on August 23, 2017 in Oak Park. It took 3 trucks and one large crane to place the six modules together, and after six hours, there stood a fully enclosed and roofed house ready for finishes. (more…)
This is one of those dream projects: great client, great site, and a design that just fell together naturally. And the team at Mike Von Behren Builders is fantastic–really getting into the project and executing beautifully. As one of our first larger rural projects, this was an opportunity to incorporate larger site moves, and let building and site development embrace the flow of water as well as sun, wind, and views. Our approach has been to use biophilic design principles to shape the project, such as prospect and refuge (for siting and layout), visual connection to nature (not a great challenge on this site!), and presence of water, while conceiving of the architecture as an integral part of the site. (more…)