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The Problem with Green Housing
The problem with most green housing is that it isn't all that affordable. The reason, or at least one of the more pertinent reasons, is that what most Americans want is the average american home, only environmentally friendly. The problem with that is that the average american home was not designed with environmental sustainability in mind, and it does not play that role very well. Most homes are too big and too environmentally costly to build to ever be truly environmentally friendly.
Which is precisely why prefab homes are the greener, smarter option.
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The Green Solution
A green prefab house starts out in a designer's mind. Because it is a prefab house, and because it will, in theory at least, be built over and over again, the designer takes great care in creating a house that uses every single inch of space in the most intelligent way possible, which means that prefab houses can actually be quite small without actually seeming especially small. The upside of this is that they have a small footprint, which means less ecological damage at the building site, and they also use far less materials, which means less resource extraction.
Green prefab houses are also especially exciting because the model allows designers to work in many green design features, such as grey water filtration systems and solar panels, that most houses make an afterthought, rather an integral part of the original design.
Because these small prefab houses are essentially mass produced, it also means that recycled materials can be used in mass. Many recycled building materials can be costly, but producing the same exact house many times over brings costs down for everyone.
Mass produced may seem like a dirty word; who wants to live in the same house everyone else has right? But take a drive down any suburban lane, or walk through any apartment building, and it will quickly become clear that we all live in residences that are, if not exactly the same, then at least very, very similar to everyone elses. In fact, living in a prefab house may be an excellent way to differentiate oneself from the rest of the houses on the block.
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The Shipping Container Houses
One creative way that prefab builders are making the most of recyclable materials is by using shipping containers as the shells of houses. This may sound a little too industrial in its design for most people's tastes, but the creative ways in which designers transform a simple, functional shipping container in to a unique and desirable house would surprise just about everyone.
Those looking to get in to a green prefab house don't, however, have to live in a shipping container. There are many designers out there right now who are building amazing, affordable prefab houses that most of us would be proud to live in, and can live in if we so choose.
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Shipping Container Home: http://www.flickr.com/photos/roludsgn/1036204298/
PreFab House: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nakedcharlton/1471568604/