LivingHomes sustainable prefab houses are judged by their own standard
Back in 2013, Gizmag covered the launch of the C6 sustainable prefab homes from LivingHomes. The residences were designed to be low-cost and to be LEED Platinum certified. Since then, the company has installed one in LA, recently broke ground for another in San Diego and has yet another ready for installation.
The C6 was created in partnership with the non-proft Make It Right organization and architect William McDonough with the aim of being as healthy for inhabitants and the environment as possible. In addition to following LEED design and build principles, it was designed to meet the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star standard.
LivingHomes says that the LEED and Energy Star standards serve primarily as recognized marks of sustainability for people to see. The firm says it has developed its own 6-point standard, however, up against which it says its homes can be better benchmarked.
The Z6 program is said to measure how close each C6 gets to being zero energy, zero water, zero emissions, zero carbon, zero waste and "zero ignorance." Each home is given a percentage score based on all of these factors, with any overall score of 85 percent or above considered acceptable.
Where energy usage is concerned, LivingHomes aims for the C6 homes to use very little energy and for all energy used to be from self-generated or renewable sources. All C6 homes are fitted with solar panels to generate electricity and use low energy lights and appliances, among other energy-saving features.
For water, the aim is to use no potable water for irrigation and at least 30 percent less indoor water than the average home does. According to LivingHomes, a C6 actually manages to use 40 percent less than the average home. Low-flow fixtures are used and grey water from the bath, shower, washing machine, and dishwasher is collected for irrigation.
A goal of clean indoor air and very low levels of harmful gas output are targeted for the emissions aspect of the LivingHomes program. To achieve this, the paint, treatments and materials used are free of emissive pollutants, motion-sensing vents are employed to stop mold forming (also a gas emitter) and outdoor plants are dotted around to absorb gasses.
Related to the goal of minimizing emissions is an aim to keep any carbon produced during the manufacture and transport of materials for the C6 homes low and to offset that which is produced. To do this, reclaimed and recycled materials are used, with materials sourced and manufactured sustainably and locally where possible. A carbon offset for the amount estimated to have been used is then purchased at Carbonfund.org.
Finally, LivingHome's goal of "zero ignorance" seeks to ensure that C6 homeowners are educated about the environmental consequences of their actions. The firm provides a home walkthrough, a printed manual and an energy monitoring system to ensure that residents are fully informed about the resources they use.
The first C6 to be built, the C6.1, was installed in Van Nuys in Los Angeles and was completed in 2013. It covers an area of 1,232 sq ft (114 sq m), housing three bedrooms and two bathrooms. In addition, it features a guest house and two-story pool house, an art studio and a detached garage.
On-site work for the C6 installation in San Diego began last month, with ground being broken this week and work due for completion in June. Like the one in LA, the model is a standard C6.
A third C6 will be installed in Joshua Tree, California, once a buyer has been found. LivingHomes tells Gizmag that it will be 50 sq ft (5 sq m) bigger than the previous C6 builds and the most advanced that has been built. Among its planned features are MoistureShield composite decking, reclaimed wood siding, recycled quartz countertops and a tankless water heater.