There are three, interdependent challenges to Florida housing providers: a) Safety; b) Affordability; and c) Energy efficiency.
If we can’t find a way to address all three challenges at the same time, we’re likely to complicate solutions for two of them while we focus only on the third. For instance: We can make houses super-safe and super-energy-efficient while driving costs beyond the abilities of most folks to pay.
We can make houses cheap enough for most people to own by taking short cuts on safety and energy efficiency. But making homes that are safe and energy efficient and also within the reach of most citizens requires addressing the ways these challenges are connected.
Green building requires green community planning. As important as our innovative approach is, we can’t address the larger carbon footprint/climate change issues through housing technology alone – no more than we can address the problem through automobile technology alone.
Going Off The Grid
Creating off-the-grid, energy-efficient housing in “greenfield” suburbs and rural enclaves will still require each adult in the family to commute to separate daily needs in separate automobiles, canceling out many of the energy gains. Over the last 30 years, the number of miles
Americans drive has grown three times faster than the population and almost twice as fast vehicle registrations. Spread-out development-sprawl is the main reason for that.
Research suggests that people who move into compact, walk-able neighborhoods are making as big a contribution to fighting global warming as those who buy hybrid vehicles but remain tied to car-dependent lifestyles. We need to make living in more dense configurations appealing.
Practical Can’t Be Ugly
To succeed, green community planning needs housing alternatives that are not only practical-safe and energy efficient-but also beautiful. Neighbors have to be willing to welcome these new additions to their communities. Even if they can’t explain why, neighbors must instantly associate these new house designs with admired regional vernacular, and they must immediately sense quality in the choice of materials and construction approaches.
Affordable Can’t Be Cheap
The trouble is, quality design and construction costs more than inferior design and construction. Factory-built housing approaches can help deliver higher quality at manageable price points. But up until now, the manufactured home industry has focused on using systems building technology to reduce prices and not to raise design and construction quality. The result is factory-built housing’s image as the last resort for home ownership.
Many communities, including those in hurricane zones along the Gulf Coast, have zoned manufactured homes out of existing neighborhoods for fear of lowering surrounding property values.
In conclusion, our new mission is to re-invent a whole category of manufactured housing that delivers optimum safety, energy efficiency, and curb appeal — while making the most of cost-saving advantages inherent in factory building.