An Affordable Prefabbed Passive House Line Is Launched

It used to be that a green home was an expensive home. Call it a combination of higher material costs and the need for a little more know-how than the kind that goes into your average tract home — the upshot was that building green was out of reach for a lot of the peopleSlowly, though, that’s been changing, and one of the key factors in increasing the cost-effectiveness of green building has been prefabrication.

A number of different companies have been making a name for themselves with LEED-ready prefabs in recent years, including Blu Homes. Now Jetson Green reports that Bensonwood Homes of New Hampshire — a precision builder best known for high-end timber frame and panelized custom homes — has launched a line of high-performance prefab Unity Homes designed to Passive House standards, out of the box.

Varm, Unity house

image via Unity Homes

This new line of prefabs is based on Bensonwood’s original Unity House, a net-zero energy residence it constructed on the campus of Unity College in Maine that received LEED Platinum certification back in 2008.
The Unity line consists of four unique, flat-packed prefab homes, each of which are engineered to consume 50 to 75 percent less energy than standard new home. Impressively, these homes are made to go up nearly air-tight, and pass the rigorous demands of Passive House certification: triple-paned Loewen windows, high levels of cellulose insulation (R35 walls and R44 roof), buttoned-up building shells, energy recovery ventilators, air-source heat pumps and more. Add a solar power system, and you can kick your new Unity house up to net zero status.
Xylas, Unity home

image via Unity Homes

The Unity line consists of the Tradd, a Cape Cod-style residence (2,056 – 2,452 square feet); the Xyla, and “all-American” single-floor bungalow (1,113 – 1,591 square feet);  the Värm, a Swedish farmhouse-style residence (1,782 – 2,896 square feet); and the Zūm, a contemporary modern home (1,594 – 2,133-square-feet).  Prices for these homes range from just under $200,000 to $450,000 (not counting permits, taxes, site excavation, etc.) More information is available online.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

    • Tedd Benson

      To be clear, Unity Homes are NOT intended to reach the Passive House certification levels of performance. Instead, they are optimized for very low energy loads at a less maximized level of performance. The stated Unity House claim is that these homes will achieve the Passive House airtightness standard of ACH .6@50Pa.