Using Modern Tech To Develop Super-efficient sustainable pre-fab housing designs

Categories: Homes / Dwellings

Baltimore will become a hub for opportunities all thanks to a project of prefabricated and modular building offices for the local nonprofit Parks & People. The structures follow LEED standards. The article was found via Inhabitat. 

The epicenter of the recent Baltimore riots could soon turn into an “epicenter of opportunity” thanks to a stunning new prefab project that recently debuted at Greenbuild. Building Design+Construction Magazine (BDC) teamed up with Zigner/Snead Architects, the U.S. Green Building Council, and Modular Genius to design and build BDC’s annual Greenbuild GreenZone demonstration building: the Green Workforce Development Center, a modular structure for the local nonprofit Parks & People in the Mondawmin community. Designed to LEED standards, the 588-square-foot prefab facility will harvest rainwater, maximize daylighting, and teach the public about energy-saving design.

Every year as part of Greenbuild’s GreenZone, BDC enlists the help of generous sponsors to construct an environmentally friendly building for a local non-profit. This year saw the selection of theParks & People Foundation, a non-profit with over 30 years of experience in revitalizing Baltimore with green space. The non-profit recently moved into a newly restored, LEED Platinum-seeking 9-acre campus in Druid Hill Park. The prefab Green Workforce Development Center will join the campus next spring and increase the percentage of the urban campus dedicated to public use.


“The Parks & People Green Workforce Development Center will showcase modular construction as a sustainable building strategy, alongside the adaptive reuse of existing buildings and energy-efficient new construction utilizing a high-performance exterior envelope,” said Keith Peiffer, RA, LEED AO BD+C, Associate at Ziger/Snead Architects to BDC. Designed as a contemporary counterpoint to the site’s restored 19th-century stone buildings, the new mono-pitched modular structure comprises a large multipurpose meeting room, locker space, kitchenette, washroom, restroom, and large northeast-facing outdoor deck that sits flush with the ground.

Clad in cedar shakes and highly reflective corrugated metal panels that extend up to the roof, the building was constructed from structural insulated panels sheathed in a rainscreen building envelope. Clerestory triple-glazed windows and full-height glazed doors let in natural light and ventilation, and are strategically placed to permit views to penetrate through the house to the outdoors, thus maintaining a connection with nature. Operable Mechosystems shades will automatically adjust in response to cloud cover readings by weather data radiometers installed on the roof.

Energy use is kept to a minimum thanks to low-flow fixtures, LED lighting, and energy-efficient appliances such as the highly efficient variable refrigerant (VRF) HVAC system that maintains comfortable indoor temperatures year-round. A rainwater collection system will be used to irrigate nearby modular micro-farms and for educational purposes. The Green Workforce Development Center, which is expected to open spring 2016, will serve as a flexible educational and workshop space for the nonprofit’s most active programs, including BRANCHES, a green job training initiative for Baltimore’s underserved youth.

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