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A Tiny, Energy-Efficient Prefab Home

2/11/2011 12:00:00 AM


Affordable shelter for everyone is the goal of Michael Katz’s L41 home, built from expandable, stackable 220-square-foot studio modules. “The major objective of the L41 home is to play a part in mass-producing houses that are so affordable that, before the end of this century, all the people in the world can have proper shelter,” the Vancouver, British Columbia-based architect says in the March/April issue of Natural Home magazine. “Affordability, mass production, quality, high design and sustainability is the L41 home manifesto.”

Katz’s energy-efficient homes can stand alone or be stacked and combined for multi- family dwellings. Artist Janet Come co-developed the homes with Katz to ensure a design that’s “delightful, livable, even downright luxurious,” Katz says. Katz plans to have the units on the market this summer. Though prices are being finalized, he says studio models will cost less than $60,000.


Expandable, stackable cubes are the basis of the L41. 

Some highlights:

• The L41 generates and stores solar electricity on-site through photovoltaic and solar thermal heating and cooling cells on its green roof.

• The home’s main construction material, cross-laminated timber, is made by laminating and gluing beetle-kill pine (literally pine trees killed by beetles) under high pressure into panels strong  enough to substitute for concrete. Katz says in British Columbia alone, more than 35 billion cubic feet of beetle-kill trees—enough to build 100 million L41 units—are available.

• Curable, waterproof zinc panels require less energy to produce than most other metals and are often made with recycled material.

• When possible (based on location), geothermal heating and cooling systems will keep homes comfortable year-round.

• Radiant coils in the ceiling provide heat. A heat-recovery ventilator keeps air fresh and improves efficiency.

• The kitchen includes a two-element induction cooktop with a slide-out mini overhead fan, a convection oven that doubles as a microwave, a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer tucked below the counter, and an Asko washer/dryer single unit. 

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