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Sustainable prefab debuts at West Coast Green

Case Studies | January 1, 2008 | By:

The modular, prefabricated, zero-energy mkLotus Showhouse debuted to rave reviews at the recent West Coast Green Residential Building Conference & Expo 2007.

West Coast Green, the largest green residential building conference in the country, took place in San Francisco from September 20–22. It featured over 270 vendors and 250 presentations, including several by mkLotus architect Michelle Kaufman. In all, 10,782 people registered for the conference. An estimated 8,500 attendees toured the Showhouse, which was erected across from City Hall, in front of the Bill Graham Civic Center Auditorium where the vendors and presentations were located. At times, the line to see it stretched across the plaza.

Designed by Michelle Kaufman Designs, an eco-minded Bay Area architectural design firm, and assembled in the firm’s factory in Washington state, the mkLotus boasts 62m2 packed with earth-friendly features. One of the least visible but most interesting of those features is the roof. Solar panels capture enough energy to power the home, while a carpet of native plants reduces rainwater runoff, absorbs carbon dioxide — the greenhouse gas implicated in global warming — and reduces the urban “heat island effect.”

Living roofs typically include a layer of geotextile filter fabric above the drainage layer to strain debris and stabilize the soil. The mkLotus utilized a proprietary BioTrayTM module system provided by Rana Creek Living Architecture.

The mkLotus has a base price of $175,000, which does not include tax, solar panels, green roof, graywater recirculation, or rainwater catchment system. Currently, it is available only in the Western states.

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Shelby Gonzalez is a California-based freelance writer specializing in environmental issues.

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