Michelle Kaufmann Goes Net Zero

Michelle Kaufmann Goes Net Zero

One of three new models from Michelle Kaufmann, the Ridge is designed to withstand cold climates and still meet net-zero energy goals.

Now that LEED is old-hat, architects are starting to talk about net-zero buildings: ones that produce as much energy that they consume. Prefab pioneer Michelle Kaufmann just announced three new prefab designs that are net-zero, offering them through a partnership with Bay Area company Studio 101 Designs. The models start at 422 square feet at a cost of $66,500 ($158 per square foot).

The most interesting of the three is the Ridge, a cold-climate-friendly model that is designed as an official Passivhaus–with triple-pane glazing, an air-tight building envelope, and passive preheating of fresh air–in order to meet net-zero energy goals even under more extreme conditions. LEED is often twitted for its generic, non-localized definition of what constitutes a sustainable structure; a house that doesn’t consume any additional energy year-round would seem to be a pretty good definition of what is sustainable architecture over the long haul.

There are two other net-zero models: the more modular Vista and another one called Contours.

The Vista can be a single-module studio, or configured as a larger residence.

More information on all three is available on Kaufmann’s site. Fully constructed units are available only on the West Coast, but she is also offering design plans and coordination with factories elsewhere in the US.