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Going green these days is not only popular; it can be more affordable than buying a standard new home. There are certainly many choices to make when building a house. Prefab, or prefabricated homes, is a new trend for building new homes. Sustainability is a major factor. It typically costs between $150,000 to nearly $426,000 to build a new house, according to the latest numbers from Home Advisor. However, modular and prefabricated homes are generally much cheaper to build than that.

Companies employ a formulaic model so there’s less waste. They include materials to make the structures durable. Construction time is shorter, as well, since the major components of the house are already built. There is also a lower permit value per square foot, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

WaterShed Maryland House 

Most homes in the United States depend on fossil fuels, but this one doesn’t. The University of Maryland designed this structure so that it recycles and filters wastewater from showers, washing machines, and dishwashers. There’s also a rainwater harvesting system, photovoltaic solar panels, and liquid desiccant waterfall for humidity control, plus automatic monitoring of humidity, lighting, and temperature.

The Jungle Shelter 

This is a one-bedroom, 384 square foot prefab house that can resist rain and humidity typical of tropical climates. They installed spray foam insulation in the walls and rigid foam board insulators on the roof. A harvesting system allows inhabitants to use rainwater on site.

LISI House 

This prefab comes with four rooftop solar panels. Winner of the Solar Decathlon 2013 edition, it offers climate control via a heat and humidity exchanger, and energy recovery ventilator. Open on both ends, the interior is airy, and there’s plenty of natural light; but don’t worry, movable curtains make up for the lack of wall space. Plus, this design has attractive vertical gardens where residents can grow food. 

FleX house 

Designed for Florida’s extreme heat, this house is shaded by cypress louvers, attached to the walls and roof. It includes a heat pump, solar panels, and a zoned mini-split HVAC system. To complement its space conservation, the structure has a movable north wall that opens for passive cooling.

Canopy House | Unit 6 Modular House | Tidewater, Virginia 

This wheelchair-accommodating house has a system of folding glass doors that connect its spaces. A solar thermal system stores electricity, which is used to heat the radiant floor and water in a storage tank. It also has an energy-efficient HVAC system and composite wall panels that block heat transfer.


Models range in size from 450 to 2,000 square feet and focus on compactness and efficiency. Customers can choose from active solar systems, or geothermal energy. Features include low-e glass, wooden or steel siding, and in-floor hydronic heating in a sustainable design.


This 513 square foot home has tall windows shaped by a uniquely designed roofline, allowing lots of natural light in. It also has high, spacious ceilings, and a porch!

This comes in studio up to two-bedroom, two-bath models. You can upgrade this prefab design to add energy-efficient insulation and heating. The biggest selling point is the ability to individualize the design at a modest price of $29,900.

Sage House 

A cottage that offers energy-efficiency, bamboo flooring, and efficient kitchen in just over 1,000 square feet. There are large sliding glass doors to open things up. Barn doors separate the two large bedrooms inside, and there is room to incorporate other design ideas as well.

If just a narrow footprint is available, efficient living is steps away with quality windows and efficient insulation. The materials used here are green and focus on environmental responsibility. Plus, the stylish designs fit 40 x 100 foot lots, even in urban areas, with deck space to boot!

This house has an innovative rail system that integrates solar panels right into the roof, installed on a passive cooling system. The occupants receive hot water from the heat that comes from the solar system. The heat is delivered to a tank built with organic phase-chance materials. Large windows allow plentiful light to brighten the interior.

Stanford CORE House 

Stanford University designed this structure on a modular grid. A mechanical system links its core, public, and private modules. It allows owners to configure the house to fit their needs. A kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room are integrated into the prefabricated core. They specifically designed the walls to minimize heat transfer. The heat-recovery ventilator and laundry water filtering system were designed for irrigation.

There’s just one bedroom and bathroom, and no garage, in this 688 square foot house. However, it can be fit with rooftop solar panels and has energy efficient insulation. The designers placed a 9-inch-thick layer of foam under the roof and more foam between the wall studs.


A stylish home that fits on narrow lots, the C6.2 has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Its design offers something different than traditional rectangular models. The model is LEED Platinum level certified. Cradle-to-Cradle inspired materials mean elements of the house meet high standards related to use, health, renewable energy, water stewardship, and other variables.

DALE House | Southern California Institute of Architecture/California Institute of Technology

This Solar Decathlon 2013 entry consists of two prefabricated models. Both sides open up to let in the fresh air, thanks to an integral rail system. They created outdoor space so inhabitants can have a space to hang out between the end trucks. Each structure has a waterproof vinyl exterior, plus 28 solar panels and a solar water heating system. Specialized software monitors and controls all parameters while collecting data on solar energy production and use, as well as indoor temperature levels.

These are just 15 cool prehab home models and designs. Much more are out there and being introduced all the time, so stay tuned as green living becomes more popular and practical!

Sources: Elemental Green, Home Advisor, 24hplans.com