Four Lights is a New Tiny House Company

This week the father of tiny housing and founder of The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, Jay Shafer, resigned from Tumbleweed and started a new company called Four Lights Tiny House Company. Shafer started Four Lights for “more freedom and more manageability,” according to a statement published on The Tiny Life. At Four Lights, Shafer will roll out building workshops, a tiny house village, and portable house plans ranging in size from 100 to 500 square feet.

The tiny house village is a concept in need of execution, if the tiny house revolution is to continue forward. Shafer refers to his clever village as “Napoleon Complex: Cohousing for the Antisocial,” and is in talks with the Sonoma County to make it happen.

Other than the village, which is expected to be complete by 2015, Shafer will introduce additional house plans over the next several months. Four Lights will also have Shafer’s designs for compact furnishings.

Currently, Four Lights has three traditional tiny house plans called The Gifford (112 square feet), The Weller (112 square feet), and The Marmara (284 square feet), which is pictured above. These plans range in price from $199 – $399, not including any discounts for specials or sales, etc.

[+] More about Four Lights Tiny House Company by Jay Shafer.

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Read the original post: Four Lights is a New Tiny House Company

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Philips Has a New A-19 LED Bulb Design

Philips recently announced its next-generation A-19 bulb with a new design that contrasts sharply with the old yellow EnduraLED or the fluorescent L-Prize bulb.  The 60-watt replacement has a white appearance and uses 11 watts while putting out 830 lumens.  It will be available in both Soft White or Daylight color temperatures when released.

The bulb, which was designed to exceed Energy Star specifications, is being released in select New York locations of Home Depot this month.  It will also be available at with a roll-out expected in the beginning of 2013.

Philips continues to aggressively innovate in the LED lighting space.  Most recently, in October 2012, the company released hue, which is a smart, web-enabled LED lighting system that can be purchased for under $200.

[+] More about the new Philips A-19 LED light bulb.

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Excerpt from: Philips Has a New A-19 LED Bulb Design

Reclaimed Barn Siding Studio in Petaluma

Little House on the Trailer is a Petaluma-based company that provides affordable, energy-efficient, and “substantially constructed” houses for today’s mobile home buyers.  For example, the company currently has a “Barn Siding Studio” available for immediate delivery for $24,000.  The 200 square-foot studio was built on wheels and finished with reclaimed redwood planks.  Marin County treats the structure as a shed, according to Little House on the Trailer, but it can be used as an office, backyard retreat, etc.

[+] More about this reclaimed Barn Siding Studio in Petaluma.

Credits: Little House on the Trailer.

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Excerpt from: Reclaimed Barn Siding Studio in Petaluma

Recycled Bottle Bubble Light by Souda

New York City-based Souda, a design and manufacturing company co-founded by Isaac Friedman-Heiman and Shaun Kasperbauer, recently shared a new project called Bubble Chandelier with Jetson Green.  Kasperbauer said the light fixture is made with 60 two-liter, used soda bottles collected by homeless individuals and can collectors in the area.  The company collaborates with and returns a portion of sale proceeds to local Sure We Can to make each chandelier.  Souda has a two-week lead time for the 22-inch item, which runs on a CFL or LED bulb, preferably.  It’s available in clear or green from $780.00.

[+] More about the Bubble Chandelier by Souda.

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Ecotec is a Soy Oil Based Solid Surface

Recently I noticed a new solid-surface called Ecotec on a list of the Best New Home Products 2012 from This Old House.  It’s priced from $15 per square foot, and the manufacturer says Ecotec is “the next generation in solid surface material.“  The product is made with powdered glass content and a urethane derived from soy oil.  Ecotec contributes toward LEED credits and contains 40% recycled and renewable content.

The composition makes Ecotec stronger, lighter, and greener, according to product brochures.

Specifically, it’s 20-25% lighter than acrylic or polyester-based solid surfaces and more scratch resistant.  In addition, Ecotec is made in the USA from a Missouri-based company, highly antimicrobial, fire resistant, and available in an unlimited color palette.

[+] More about soy-based solid surface Ecotec.

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Energy Efficient Windows with Marvin

Over the years I’ve tried to fill in our coverage with more substantive, or how-to, information on topics relating to sustainable homes.  One topic that I’ve been itching to cover is energy-efficient windows, and I’m happy to announce that Minnesota-based Marvin Windows and Doors has agreed to share their expertise with Jetson Green for a series of articles loosely titled “Energy-Efficient Windows 101.”

Before jumping into this new series, I think it makes sense to introduce Marvin because I’m writing these articles based on information, research, photos, and videos that the company is sharing with us.

Marvin, as you may know, started in the lumber business in the early 1900s and gradually moved into making windows when trying to keep employees busy during the slower months of winter.  Now the company is a recognized leader in the window industry and retains its family roots with management made up of third and fourth generation members of the Marvin family.

The company makes windows to order with an extensive offering of clad colors, wood options, and hardware.  For more discerning customers, Marvin can make entirely custom window products and has more than 150,000 options for meeting or exceeding Energy Star requirements.  In short, this is a company that can focus on both design and energy efficiency.

If you have any window questions, leave a comment below.  The first article you’ll see relates to reading the rating label that’s placed on windows.

Photo courtesy: Marvin (picture of Leicester House in North Carolina with a custom configuration of Marvin Ultimate Awning Windows, Ultimate Casement Windows, and the Ultimate Swinging French Doors; copyright Daniel Levin Photography).

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Connect Homes Innovates in Silicon Valley

Connect:Homes is a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of prefab homes founded by Jared Levy and Gordon Stott (formerly with Marmol Radziner) on a mission to reduce the delivery costs associated with modular construction and make sustainable homes more affordable. To make that happen, Levy and Stott spent the last three years designing, prototyping, and patenting a system to cost-effectively deliver prefab homes, and they put their awesome prototype on display at Dwell on Design 2012.

In summary, a large part of the solution is to size the modules to be transported by the intermodal shipping container network. All Connect:Homes, therefore, can be delivered virtually anywhere in the world by truck, rail, or ship.

But to be clear, these aren’t container homes, these are homes shipped on a framework designed for intermodal shipping containers.

Transportation can cost nearly $100,000 cross-country or $400,000 overseas for the typical prefab home, according to Connect:Homes, so designers and builders have been forced to use regional factories that may or may not offer a high-performance build or a desirable selection of finishes or materials.

Not satisfied with the high costs or other limitations, Levy said, “We asked ourselves if you can ship a shipping container full of 64,000 lbs of goods around the world for $5,000, why should it cost you so much to ship a house?Connect:Homes ships 90% completed modules and cuts delivery costs by up to 90% to deliver a more affordable home.

Shipping innovation isn’t the only advance that Connect:Homes aims to bring to factory-built housing. To avoid the cost of renting a 240-ton crane, which Levy said could be up to $15,000 per day, the company will use giant castors to roll modules into place. This is something that only applies to the ground-level modules, but like a skateboard, the home just rolls onto a finished foundation.

The company will test this installation method when sending the Connect:2.1 prototype to the Hillview Community Center, 97 Hillview Avenue, Los Altos, California, for the Dwell Silicon Valley Home Tour starting on November 3, 2012. Visit this page for more detail.

In terms of pricing, Connect:Homes start at $140 per square foot out of the factory and range to $165 per square foot delivered and installed, according to a company statement.

Connect:Homes come with house-wide LED lighting, floor-to-ceiling windows and doors, 100% recycled content glass countertops, in-wall dual-flush Duravit toilets, an insulation package to match any climate (standard of R21 walls, R30 floors, and R45 roof), and other materials that can contribute toward credits for LEED certification.

[+] More about Connect:Homes modular prefab from California.

Credits: Connect:Homes (#1-2); Bethany Nauert, West Elm (#3-4).

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Unity is an Ultra-Efficient Factory-Built Home

Today New Hampshire-based Bensonwood, an innovator in home building, announced the launch of a new brand of prefab homes called Unity Homes. With Unity Homes, the company expects to raise the bar for home construction without raising the price tag, too. There will be four diverse home collections — renderings of which are shown in this article — each with several configurations and two-four bedroom options, and all of the homes will use at least 50% (and up to 75%) less energy than a typical home on the market.

The mission of Unity Homes is to offer the highest quality homes for the lowest possible cost. This will be done to a certain extent through the pre-engineered collections of home designs.

These prefab homes are built in a factory as assemblies and sub-assemblies — typically a panel — using advanced software systems, automated cutting machines, and a streamlined manufacturing process, according to a company statement. All of the fabricated elements are then stacked and packed, again using software to optimize the use of space, and assembled on-site in about one to three days.

The total amount of time required to assemble and button-up a home is roughly 20-60 working days, according to Bensonwood.

In order to deliver ultra-efficiency as a standard feature, each Unity house will have high levels of insulation with R-35 walls (the OBPlusWall) and an R-44 roof, triple-pane windows, an all-electric hot water heater, an air-source heat pump, an energy recovery ventilator, and rigorous envelope assembly to ensure a Passive House level of airtightness to 0.6 ACH @ 50 Pascals or better.

With an added investment in some form of renewable energy, such as solar PV, most of these energy-efficient homes should achieve zero net energy consumption.

In addition, they will be Open-Built, to use a term that’s unique to Bensonwood. In short, various mechanical systems are separated from the structure in order to make future repairs, upgrades, and additions easier.

Unity truly has a broad array of home designs to start with, including the American bungalow (Xyla; size 1,113 – 1,591 SF; from $199,750), classic tall Cape (Tradd; 2,056 – 2,452 SF; from $339,500), Swedish-inspired two-story (Värm; 1,782 – 2,896 SF; from $298,250), and a modern green cabin (Zūm; 1,594 – 2,133 SF; from $298,500). Pricing is generally between $200,000 – $450,0000, excluding land, permits, taxes, site improvements and excavations, and transportation greater than 50 miles.

[+] Visit the new Unity Homes website from Bensonwood.

Credits: Bensonwood.

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Delta Taps the Maker Movement: Giveaway

If you’ve been following the story about my participation in the Delta 2012 Maker/DIY Blogger Event last week — Part I and Part II — you’re probably as impressed with the Delta Faucet Company as I am! You also might have caught the little teaser I gave at the end of my last article about a GIVEAWAY! And oh boy, is it a good one!

One Jetson Green readers will receive a single handle kitchen faucet featuring Delta’s proprietary Touch20 technology! The lucky winner can choose from one of the following styles: Addison, Trinsic or Pilar.

To participate in this giveaway contest for one of these awesome faucets (valued at an average of $600), leave a comment here by midnight MST on Tuesday, July 10, 2012.  Then watch your emails on Wednesday when the winner will be selected.

The rules are: one comment per person; use a log-in that shares your email with Jetson Green; this giveaway is available only in the United States and is void where prohibited. By leaving a comment, you agree to the terms relating to giveaways on Jetson Green.

Disclosure: Delta Faucets invited Jetson Green to Indianapolis and covered expenses during the conference. All opinions are our own. Photo credits: Delta Faucet Company.

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Originally posted here: Delta Taps the Maker Movement: Giveaway

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Delta Taps the Maker Movement: Part I

When I was first asked to represent Jetson Green at the Delta 2012 Maker/DIYer Blogger Event, I knew very little about the concept of makers and even less about our host, Delta Faucet Company. A quick Google search for makers revealed a subculture of out-of-the-box thinkers who share their invention, creativity, and resourcefulness at Maker Faires around the world. Sounds pretty cool, I thought. But what does this “maker movement” have to do with an almost 60-year old plumbing company from Indiana? Along with seven other bloggers, I was about to find out during a two-day, expenses-paid visit with Delta’s makers at their Indianapolis headquarters.

The original Delta maker was company founder Alex Manoogian, who introduced the first single handle lavoratory faucet to the world back in 1954. His company has been innovating ever since, with some of the most exciting technological breakthroughs in the plumbing industry emerging from Delta’s in-house engineers and product developers.

We spent an afternoon with these passionate and industrious fellows, all the textbook definition of a maker if there ever was one! We played with some of their most popular water-saving inventions, feeling the voluminous spray of a low-flow showerhead featuring H2O Kinetics and marveling at those “magicTouch 2O faucets, which stop and start the water flow with a simple tap anywhere on the spout — and from whichever body part is most readily accessible. No need to yuck up your faucet handle with raw chicken hands when your elbow is available!

They even now have completely hands-free activation (known as Touch 20xt) on some faucet lines, which can sense your presence with remarkable accuracy (no faucet dance!), turning on and off immediately after you remove your hands to conserve water. As Senior Product Development Manager Paul Patton put it:

We are very serious about water conservation — but not at the expense of the user’s experience of our products. Our mission is to keep finding and filling the gaps between technology and consumer needs, which makes Delta an exciting place to work right now!

One of the best ways they pinpoint unmet needs is by videotaping and then studying people using their sinks, faucets and showers at home (with their permission, of course!).  When they see common “workarounds” like Big Gulp cups kept in the shower stall for extra rinse power or to wash out the tub, then they know there is an opportunity to fulfill a need. The In2ition showerhead with a built-in handheld is a perfect solution for just those issues! Observing so much wasted time waiting for large pots inspired Multi-Flow and lots of dangling pull-down spray wands led to the invention of the MagnaTite feature.

All this is just the tip of the iceberg of what these innovators have in the works right now! In my next installment, we’ll visit Delta’s Director of Industrial Design Judd Lord and his team in their on-site design studio — where all kinds of cool “making” goes on!

Disclosure: Delta Faucets invited Jetson Green to Indianapolis and covered expenses during the conference.  All opinions are our own.  Photo credits: Lisa Vail.

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Continued here: Delta Taps the Maker Movement: Part I