Sustainable Opportunities in Prefabricated Construction: The ecoMOD Project at the University of Virginia

By John Quale.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The ecoMOD project at the University of Virginia (UVA) was established to create a series of ecological, modular and affordable house prototypes. The goal is to demonstrate the environmental and economic potential of prefabrication, and to challenge the modular and manufactured housing industry in the U.S. to explore this potential. In the context of this multi-year research and design / build / evaluate project, an interdisciplinary group of architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, business, environmental science, planning and economics students are participating in the design, construction and evaluation phases of the project. The project is embedded in the curriculum of the university, and is intended to create well-built homes that cost less to live in, minimize damage to the environment, and appreciate in value.

Over the next several years, UVA students and faculty are providing several prefabricated housing units through partnerships with Piedmont Housing Alliance (PHA) of Charlottesville and Habitat for Humanity (HFH). PHA will sell three of the units to low-income families in the Charlottesville area with down payment and financing assistance. One single family house has been built in partnership with HFH for a family in Gautier, Mississippi displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Each completed house is to be monitored and evaluated carefully, with the results guiding the designs of subsequent houses.

Keywords: Prefabrication, Modular, Affordable Housing, Environmental Criteria, Sustainable Design, Architecture, Engineering

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.11-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 538.757KB).

Prof. John Quale

Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

John Quale has been teaching architectural design studios and building technology courses at UVA since January 2000. He initiated and serves as Project Director for the ecoMOD project. ecoMOD is a research and design / build / evaluate project focused on ecological, modular affordable houses. An interdisciplinary initiative, John is leading a series of teams to create four new houses that are pre-fabricated by students off-site, and made available to low-income families. John works directly with local community organizations and neighborhood associations as his students develop the ecoMOD designs. Three of the homes will be sold through a partnership with Piedmont Housing Alliance. One house has been delivered to Gautier, Mississippi for a family displaced by Hurricane Katrina, through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity. John is a LEED Accredited Professional of the U.S. Green Building Council. John served as the coordinator and architecture advisor for the 2002 UVA Solar Decathlon Team, a national design/build house competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The UVA team won 1st Place in the Design & Livability (architecture) event of the 2002 Decathlon, and 2nd Place overall. John and his wife Sara Osborne, a landscape architect, established Q&O Design in 2001.

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