Mother Earth Living

GreenPods: Small, Low-Impact, Energy-Efficient Homes

A builder offers healthy homes and a boost to her local economy.
By Susan Melgren
September/October 2011
Add to My MSN

The 420-square-foot Port Townsend model features a front porch with two built-in benches.
Photo Courtesy GreenPod Development

Content Tools

Related Content

Wabi-Sabi Wednesday: What Do Those Words Mean?

Together, wabi (humility) and sabi (beauty in rust) become more than the sum of their parts--a philo...

Green Architecture Spotlight: Beddington Zero-Energy Development

Natural Home editorial intern Kristin Standley examines the successes and failures of the Beddington...

Eco-Friendly PopUp Houses Ready to Assemble

The PopUp House from House Port, Inc. embodies the definition of model green home as it utilizes sus...

The Herbal Artist: Queen Anne's Lace Flower Jelly

Craft a refreshing jelly that resembles light floral lemonade or grapefruit juice with the delightfu...

Architect Ann Raab strives to give her clients the big picture in a small frame. Founder of Port Townsend, Washington-based GreenPod Development, Raab designs and builds small, energy-efficient, low-impact homes ranging in size from 300 to 800 square feet. Designed as much for indoor air quality as they are for energy efficiency, the GreenPods are finished inside with organic fabrics and nontoxic furniture. “Everything that goes into the houses is under scrutiny and has been researched for its environmental impact, its embodied energy and its effect on indoor air,” Raab says. “It’s not so much a house as it is a lifestyle choice. I can build a healthy house, but it doesn’t mean anything if the homeowner wants to bring in products covered with flame retardants.”

The GreenPods feature many energy- and resource-saving features—solar panels and passive solar design, graywater systems, recycled countertops and green roofs, to name a few. But Raab’s real testament to sustainability lies in her commitment to the local community. When choosing clients and sourcing materials for the pods, Raab limits herself to a 200-mile radius around Port Townsend. She also employs 20 local artisans to make everything the homes need, from cabinets and doors to sinks and even the modular furnishings that make living in the small homes possible. “If we can encourage a lot of local industries instead of buying from the big guys, then we can capture money that’s leaving our town,” Raab says.

For those outside the Washington area interested in the GreenPod designs, Raab offers home plans for sale. In the future, she also hopes to design building kits.

The Good Stuff 

• The 420-square-foot Port Townsend model features a front porch with two built-in benches.

• Homeowners can choose between 100 percent recycled metal or living green roofs.

• Highly efficient structural insulated panels form the home’s exterior.

• Offsite, prefabricated building minimizes waste and site disturbance.

Post a comment below.


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.