Space age technologies are converging here at ground level. Imagine if you could settle into a new zero-carbon emission house, fully equipped and self-sustaining, delivered by truck fully assembled , and set down, without a foundation, on a flat space anywhere. (A two-story design requires a foundation) It sounds like science fiction but 3D ‘printing’ technology is making it a reality – now. A demo model is open for viewing in Seattle, Washington.
One of several new innovators, a company called Haus.me began with European design and opened an assembly plant in Reno, Nevada earlier in 2020. It intends to start deliveries of homes to customers in Nevada, California and Arizona. Three home models are capable of operating off-grid with their own power, water and septic systems. If preferred, they can be connected to municipal services instead. They include some fancy ‘smart-home’ electronic bells and whistles.
Haus.me claims some exceptional performance measures:
- designed for a climate conditions from -20F to +140F. [ –28 to +48 C]
- wall insulation in haus.me is 6x higher than US Dept. of Energy recommendations for northern states and Canada.
- windows save 14x more energy than a regular double-pane window.
- energy efficiency is so effective that haus.me unit can be heated and cooled with solar power only, even in foggy and overcast climates.
According to promotional material, the homes have a lifetime guarantee (house frame & windows). They are made with “Carbon fibre, durable polymers, and 6-panes of guarded glass comprise the exterior surface, while comfortable natural wood is used for the interior.”
This is only one of several 3D printed housing companies offering factory built homes. Naturally, the biggest hurdles to this technology are man-made too. That is, there are no appropriate building codes, construction standards or zoning regulations to open the way for these innovative housing solutions.
Discussion about cost of this type of housing solution has been in relation to conventional housing in urban settings but maybe the real opportunity might be with First Nations in remote communities. Housing in these settlements is chronically deficient, over-crowded and needing repair or replacement. The Canadian government spends more than $200 million a year addressing the problem but continues to fall behind the needs of a growing indigenous population. Add to that, millions more spent trying to provide adequate utility services. Is it time to think beyond boards and pipes? I can imagine three or four of these self-sufficient units arranged together, not as a ‘street’ but clustered as a family compound to properly house multiple generations.
Closer to home, what would this high-tech approach mean for urban landscapes? Could an owner relocate a house and sell an empty lot? Would connection to municipal services still be required? Would we dispense with municipal services for new single-family developments? Would fewer pipes in the ground mean more trees? Would it make smaller communities more attractive, or more accessible, for new home buyers? How would wider adoption of manufactured self-sufficient homes affect municipal services, revenues and expenses?
Skeptical? Besides Haus Me there are some other 3D printing builders such as Apis Cor and Mighty Buildings. Are we ready for the future?