Stanford Professor Builds Custom, Prefab Green Home

Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Mark Jacobsen is the Director of Stanford University’s Atmosphere and Energy Program. His mission is to better comprehend severe atmospheric challenges including air pollution and global warming and to ultimately develop large-scale, clean renewable energy solutions. It is no wonder that, when it came to building his own home near Palo Alto, Professor Jacobsen opted for a zero-emission, green home. But in an unusual twist, he turned to Canadian prefab homebuilders, BONE Structure, to create a home that met his requirements.

Not wanting to build a new home, Jacobsen chose BONE Structure when he was unable to find an existing residence that met his green building criteria. The company helped him design a custom, 3,200 square foot environmentally-friendly house that took a mere 2 weeks to construct on Dr. Jacobsen’s lot near Stanford.

Inspired by the aerospace industry, BONE Structure’s comprehensive 9-step process includes design through construction. They offer a collection of established architectural designs but can also generate plans for custom homes. All of their homes are built upon a 100% steel frame, 89% of which is recycled material. Reminiscent of Erector sets, these homes ‘clip together’, allowing a customized size and layout in addition to an amazingly short construction of only two weeks. The total cost of the home was $1.5 million.

Steel offers a number of green building benefits that far outweigh that of the typical wood frame construction. These include:

  • Durability that last for centuries
  • Produces less waste during manufacturing process
  • Termite-proof
  • Fire-resistance

Two disadvantages of using steel is that it is more expensive than wood and it doesn’t offer the same level of insulating properties as a wood frame. To combat this issue, BONE Structure uses a soy-based foam that envelopes the steel, creating an air-tight seal to eliminate the steel from shrinking and contracting. Because the steel structure is considerably more durable than a wood frame and requires no interior load-bearing walls, the home is ‘infinitely adaptable and reconfigurable”.

According to the company’s website, The BONE Structure® steel system combines the advantages of a post-and-beam structure with an integrated energy efficient solution for the thermal envelope. BONE Structure Homes can easily reach LEED, PassivHaus or Net Zero Energy Certifications. The BONE Structure® steel system combines the advantages of a post-and-beam structure with an integrated energy efficient solution for the thermal envelope. BONE Structure Homes can easily reach LEED, PassivHaus or Net Zero Energy Certifications.”

In addition to its numerous other sustainable features, the zero-emission house generates energy from its solar roof panels, which it stores in a Tesla Powerwall battery, making it a passive home that uses little to no consumer electricity.

Sustainable, green homes are becoming more and more prevalent in the Silicon Valley and beyond. If you are entertaining the option of finding a green or LEED certified residence in Palo Alto or elsewhere, The Dawn Thomas Team can help make this goal a reality.

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