Making its debut at the 2014 Greenbuild conference in New Orleans was LivingHomes’ 1,500-square-foot modular net-zero demonstration house, which was designed in collaboration with Make It Right, an organization founded by Brad Pitt in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to build homes for people in need. The house showcased the latest in high-performance and healthy living practices, and following Greenbuild, was moved to a site in the Lower 9th Ward, an area hit hardest by Katrina.

 New Orleans, LA
Size 1,550ft 2
Completion 2014 Certification Anticipating LEED Platinum
Program Single-family residence

OWNER Make it Right Foundation
Developer LivingHomes
Designer LivingHomes
Structural Engineer Jerry L. Helms
Mechanical Engineer Unico
Electrical Engineer Palm Harbor Homes, Inc
General Contractor TKO Builders
Modular Factory Palm Harbor Homes, Inc.
LEEDProvider Maureen Mahle, Steven Winter Associates, Inc.
HERS Rater Chip Henderson, Contects
Interiors Nomita Joshi- Gupta, SPRUCE
Sustainability Consultants Delos Living LLC Inspirit-LLC

Systems Andersen Air/Weather Barrier DuPont Tyvek
Roofing Metal Sales Manufacturing Corporation
Exterior Siding Norandex Building Materials Distribution
Lighting Cooper Lighting
HVAC Unico
Insulation Saint-Gobain/ CertainTeed
Paint Benjamin Moore Interior Venting Panasonic
Appliances Frigidaire/ Electrolux
Exterior Decking & Railings Accoya
Porcelain Tile Mosa
Kitchen Cabinets Advanta
Wood Floors Shaw Sheathing Huber Advantech
Counters Cosentino
Wood Framing Roseburg Tankless Waterheater Rinnai
Photovoltaic SolarCity Interior Doors Jeldwen Pressure Treated Framing Yella Wood
Window Coverings MechoSystems
Wall Tiles Mossa Tile Plumbing Fixtures Kohler


“Our prefab homes are unique in that they are not only sustainably designed,” says LivingHomes CEO Steve Glenn, but “architecturally distinct as well.” With its sleek, modern lines, the LivingHome cuts no corners when it comes to design. A comprehensive environmental program means the house is built to LEED v4 Platinum and Energy Star v3 standards, while incorporating Cradle To Cradle–certified products and criteria from the International WELL Building Institute’s certification program. “The goal was to build the best house possible, in terms of health and safety for the families, harmonizing people and the environment,” says Make It Right’s executive director Tom Darden.


The house was adapted from one of LivingHomes’ original modular designs to specifically accommodate the challenging climate of New Orleans. Virtually all elements were designed to keep moisture out, and the house is perched on stilts two feet above what code calls for. Windows feature removable hurricane-resistant screens (an affordable alternative to hurricane-ready windows), cement lap siding that sheds water, and bathtubs and sinks designed with extra-deep basins to provide water storage should a storm threaten to cut off the water supply.


“We’ve built a lot of houses with flat roofs, but we’ve found that pitched roofs are higher performing and lower maintenance, which was a must in this case,” says Darden. The team chose a galvanized aluminum roof with 16-inch Vertical Seam 24 Gauge Panels by Metal Sales. The snap-together panel system features a factory-applied side lap sealant and concealed clip designed to accommodate thermal movement and up to 4-inch blanket insulation. Designed to withstand the severest weather, the roof is not only durable but fire-resistant as well.


The LivingHome was designed to promote the health and wellbeing of its dwellers, according to Glenn. Lighting throughout was engineered to simulate the natural environment and support circadian rhythms for healthy sleep cycles. To maximize indoor air quality, all paints and stains are low-VOC, while antimicrobial, anti-mildew drywall captures VOCs brought into the home. (In addition, bathroom fans are equipped with motion sensors to remove moisture promptly to ward off mold and mildew.) Furniture is free of formaldehyde, polyurethane, and flame-retardants. In the kitchen and baths, a filtration system inserts Vitamin C into the water to reduce contact with chlorine, while seamless countertops reduce the presence of bacteria in crevices.

In the kitchen, a filtration system inserts Vitamin C into the water to reduce contact with chlorine, while seamless countertops reduce the presence of bacteria in crevices.