Eco-friendly next-generation mobile homes

Summary:Usually, mobile homes are not associated with terms such as long-term quality or environmental friendliness. Now, a professor of architecture at Mississippi State University (MSU) wants to change this. He has developed the concept of the GreenMobile home, an ultra-affordable and ecological-minded, factory-built housing unit. The first prototypes of these homes, which could be used as regular houses or for disaster relief housing, should be built in March 2008. And their cost is expected to be in the $50,000 range. Not too bad, especially if the value of these houses increases in the future as expects the development team. But read more...

Usually, mobile homes are not associated with terms such as long-term quality or environmental friendliness. Now, a professor of architecture at Mississippi State University (MSU) wants to change this. He has developed the concept of the GreenMobile home, an ultra-affordable and ecological-minded, factory-built housing unit. The first prototypes of these homes, which could be used as regular houses or for disaster relief housing, should be built in March 2008. And their cost is expected to be in the $50,000 range. Not too bad, especially if the value of these houses increases in the future as expects the development team. But read more...

Images of the GreenMobile home

You can see above some images of the GreenMobile home (Credit: Michael Berk). Here is a link to a larger version of this picture which reproduces an article published in the Residential Architect magazine in its August 2007 issue. And here is another link to a picture gallery about the GreenMobile home.

This project is the brainchild of Michael Berk, professor of Architecture at Mississippi State University. Its "GreenMobile design meets International Residential Codes (IRC) for structurally sound foundations, involves using better insulation, promotes the use of energy-efficient appliances, and creates interior spaces better suited for natural-day lighting and ventilation. It also includes an option to install Tennessee Valley Authority solar photo-voltaic systems, which convert energy from the sun into electricity -- an option known in the industry as net-metering."

Berk also says that his GreenMobile homes will offer several other advantages. "Energy savings from the home make it a smart choice for people looking for affordable housing and lower utility costs. 'It potentially could make money at the end of the month,' Berk said. Energy isn't the only thing separating the GreenMobile from traditional mobile homes. Berk said his next generation of mobile home will appreciate in value, unlike current mobile homes that depreciate shortly after being bought."

And while Berk was working on this project, several hurricanes devastated areas in Mississippi or in Louisiana. In December 2006, the GreenMobile project was awarded a $5.8 million grant as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Alternative Housing Pilot Program, organized to construct alternatives to FEMA trailers in disaster-affected communities." Here is a link to the FEMA news release dated from December 22, 2006.

The GreenMobile concept also was one of the 2007 Lifecycle Building Challenge winners. Here are some links to additional details, a 1-page poster and a description of the GreenMobile concept. This concept describes briefly the advantages of the GreenMobile home. "The benefits of this concept include the following: 1) units will be energy efficient with limited or no utility costs; 2) lower monthly payments as a result of extended mortgage rates; 3) lower insurance rates as a result of IRC code compliance; and 4) reduced electric utility with net metering, on-site PV electric generation could be a profit center or at least, eliminate or reduce electric utility costs. Ultimately, this combination strategy makes these units very, very affordable!"

This looks very interesting, but will these green mobile homes be really built? According to MSU, it's not sure. "While the new model for manufactured housing has been recognized with awards, industry hasn't yet picked up on it. Working with MSU's Office of Technology Commercialization, Berk seeks a company to partner on the project to mass-produce the GreenMobile, making the award-winning unit a new housing choice."

Sources: Mississippi State University news release, December 20, 2007; and various websites

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Topics: Mobility

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