Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Working Manifesto

In the spirit of Sustainability and Collaboration, we - The BrightBuilt Team - dedicate ourselves:

-To immediately share all concepts, details and systems of the first BrightBuilt project (BB001) with all interested others

-To try to evoke critical thought and invite feedback, with the aim of improving these systems

-To work with builders to offer this first BrightBuilt model, as well as any subsequent prototypes, to others at a reasonable cost and with a greatly reduced construction timeline

-To encourage others to build and test their own BrightBuilt projects as examples of livability, sustainability and attainability

-To create a central online space for learning and interaction among like-minded parties

-To maintain ongoing transparency of operational performance, with the live and historical energy performance of all BrightBuilts continuously visible to all

These are ambitious goals. We look for the collaboration and input of others in the global community. If you are interested in taking part in this grand, and potentially transformative experiment, please sign up at www.brightbuiltbarn.com to be kept in the loop, or simply start commenting below...
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Ann said...

RE: Grandparents mitigating their carbon footprints.....
In an attempt to somewhat mitigate our collectively huge carbon footprint, my husband and I plan to gift solar panels to our CA daughter and family because they have wonderfully direct sunlight that our MN home does not have.
...AND your prefab house in today's (1-15-09) NYT remains of great interest to me. What challenges and costs would you foresee in building, for eg., your LED sample in Sonoma Cty, CA?

pkaplan said...

With help from our colleagues at Petersen Engineering, BrightBuilt was designed to go anywhere. While the mechanical system requirements will change, the delivery is not particularly an issue. Bensonwood has delivered homes all over the country for many years at an extremely high level of quality.

Seismic issues have not been fully vetted for BrightBuilt's structure yet, but that is an easy check. However, with a timber framed roof and walls over 12" thick, I'm not too concerned.


Anonymous said...

I like it but... way too much per sq. ft. It really doesn't matter if someone can make back their investment in energy savings if he/she can't afford to build it in the first place.

Show me one in 1600 - 1800 sq. ft. with a two car garage and a basement at a reasonable price and I'll be impressed. Very much so. (Then it would qualify for construction in the gated community where I own a lot as well.)

The outside "holier-than-thou" contest lights are tacky and snobbish.

It is a nice start and I could live comfortably in it but my family would have to stay in hotels when they visit and my girlfriend would disown me for the lack of room. I hope you are able to progress enough with this concept that the price comes down enough for it to be a realistic option for most people.

Mat D said...

I think the design would be great as a cabin rental, and I would seriously consider it but as usual with all pre-fab projects, the cost doesn't make sense at all. I just finished an OB project with ICF walls, al/wood windows, over 2000 sq feet of cultured stone, etc. for $118/sq foot. I'd be interested in plans for this project and I think there are some serious merits to it, but for the price?

cmahometech said...

I have been looking for the online metering. It is my understanding that I should be able to see the current net use or production of the home. When do you expect to have this up and running?

pkaplan said...

We are working hard to get the online metering visible. The hope is that it will be available in a couple weeks.

As to the cost, you need to figure this a bit differently, perhaps relative to lifecycle, and include time as a factor.

The intent of Net-zero is that there are no energy costs. Plus, BrightBuilt is disentangled to the point where many interior modifications could be handled at a much smaller cost at any given point. There are simply no wires fixed within the walls. And it can be assembled fully finished within a week.

That being said, we do not see this project as an end, but rather a beginning. We invite Mat D's comments and hope to create a coalition of individuals interested in improving this type of project together. We are working quickly to set up an effective forum to have such conversations.

True to open source collaboration, plans and wall section are posted on our website, with more drawings available shortly.


MatD said...

Phil - As for construction, stick built with exterior rigid foam for a thermal break and high density spray foam would probably be my best option to keep costs down but I haven't done any thermal analysis to compare with. I really like ICFs but given where I would build this, it's not as feasible. I think another strong point you have is in the design, specifically the interior finishes. There is a lot of value added to someone like myself being able to purchase an interior finishes package instead of figuring it out myself. Not sure if this would be feasible either. Thought it would probably cost me more, I wouldn't have to fuss with design, placing calls, getting quotes, material sheets, etc.

As an aside, I've been a big fan on your own house that was published in the "Good House Cheap House" book. I was pleasantly surprised to see you were the same person who worked on the BrightBuilt project.

d3sp said...


I am quite interested in this project. More over I'd like to know if you are considering spreading your good intentions abroad, for instance to France.

I live here, and I am working in the sustained development direction. The project like yours are of the great importance and can be the future standards in building.

My partners-architects could be interested in such kind of designs.

The possibilities of doing business together are limitless. Please, drop me an email, if you think it could be interesting for you and your team.

Thank you

Ian said...

Nice job! This is the future of the built environment. For further info on this topic, check out my website:


I do think it will take high fossil fuel prices (again) to bring this into the main stream. If the first cost investment can be matched by energy cost savings this will take off. The mass market doesn't do this for "feel good, save the planet" reasons...it needs to make economic sense. That being said, this is indeed the future!

Chris Chitty said...

I love the concept and the ideals behind the project. Are there any detailed case studies or reports on the building details that let the rest of us know what was required to create a net zero energy open built dwelling? Are these details to be proprietary? Any info would help. Thanks.

Chris Chitty

Robin said...

Chris - Yes, It is our intention to make the details of this building as available as possible, through the website. We are working on that right now - stay tuned, or contact our firm directly if you are looking for some information in a more timely manner.

Anonymous said...

Love the simplicity and sharpness of the design, but OMG...close to $300.00 a square foot? 700 sq. ft., and the labor, shipping, and site costs are not included? Whoever purchases this has way too much money. Feasibility for even the upper-middle class is pretty much nonexistent. You really need to bring costs down to make this realistically marketable, and in this doom and gloom market, I think most people would laugh (regardless of how green the building is.)Nice to look at though.