Three years after being installed as a self-sufficient demo project in one of the original planned communities in the U.S., two years after achieving LEED Platinum certification, and nearly one year after being name one of the top 10 green building projects of 2013
by the American Institute of Architects, New Norris House
, a pint-sized prefab dwelling conceived and designed by students and faculty at the College of Architecture and Design at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, is finally making the transition over from living laboratory to private residence.
Factory-built by Clayton Homes, funded with grants from the EPA, and chock full of eco-friendly bells and whistles, the 1,008-square-foot home
will officially hit the auction block
in early May with minimum bids set at $155,000.
The auction itself will be overseen by the State of Tennessee Real Estate Asset Management given that the current owner of the New Norris House in the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. All proceeds from the sale will be funneled back to the College or Architecture and Design and be used, as part of the college's Design-Build-Evaluate
initiative, to provide seed funding for similar projects in the future.
As I’ve detailed before, there’s a lot to like about the New Norris House particularly with regard to how it was designed as a 21st century response to the original
egalitarian vision of Norris, Tenn
. Erected in the early 1930s by the Tennessee Valley Authority, this proto-New Urbanist company town (it housed TVA employees working on the nearby by Norris Dam along with their families) was envisioned as a completely walkable, self-sustaining utopia that doubled as a showcase for the latest and greatest in domestic amenities (electricity and indoor plumbing between the two biggies) enjoyed by Americans living outside of rural Appalachia. Sold at auction in 1948 by the TVA, the community of Norris is currently a historic district that serves as an affluent bedroom community of Knoxville.
Created by UT Knoxville in celebration of the community's 75th anniversary, New Norris House is geared to "transpose the original vision of a sustainable Norris and embrace the adept, global social network while locating itself with a lightness and vernacular rigor essential to the original TVA vision.”
Valerie Friedmann, a long-time New Norris House team member who helped to design the abode’s water harvesting/reuse systems and who lived in the home during a one-year residency, explains to the Knoxville News Sentinel
: “We were really interested in testing our ideas and learning how sustainable could the house be under normal living conditions. We wanted to know what happens when a real person lives here."
So what sustainable features will the "real person" who buys New Norris house enjoy once they move in?
The laundry list is long and impressive: Solar hot water heating, LED lighting, Energy Star everything, abundant natural daylighting, high levels of insulation, high performance windows and skylights from Anderson, an energy recovery ventilator, a high-efficiency mini-split HVAC system, and numerous interior details crafted from recycled/salvaged/locally sourced materials, including reclaimed white oak floors taken from a 150-year-old barn in Kentucky. Built-in cabinetry and cleverly concealed storage units help to open up floor space squeeze the most of the home's modest square footage.
More on the home's "passive first, active second" design:
In contrast to the TVA’s hallmark achievement — central power, water and waste services for each home — the NNH seeks to first passively manage needs and, second, to manage needs on-site. A previously developed site, the infill project is connected to existing central systems but frequently operates independently where cost effective. The project uses the enduring fascination with the historic cottages and land-use plan to compel home-buyers to consider compact living. At 1008 sf, A New Norris House is less than half the size of the median house and sited on a .30 acre lot. Rightsizing reduced material and operational loads and costs, and shifted funds to quality design and construction, passive strategies and high efficiency systems.
Half the area of a median house, the project reduces delivered and embodied energy and carbon through compactness. A robust envelope (R-30 walls, R-42 roof, R-24 crawl), cross ventilation, useful solar gain, and mitigation of unwanted solar gain maximize passive design and minimize use of high-efficiency mechanical systems. A dormer shutter induces stack ventilation and a solar hot water panel is concealed on its roof. A tankless electric heater boosts stored hot water as needed. A tight envelope and ERV also limit energy use.
The pièce(s) de résistance, however, are the home's water-conserving features
, that in addition to low-flow fixtures, include both greywater treatment and rainwater collecting systems:
The wastewater from such activities as laundry, hand-washing, and bathing is rerouted to water plants. A rainwater cistern also filters water captured from the roof for non-potable uses in the home, such as toilet flushing, clothes washing, and hose bibs. Overflow goes to a second cistern, which irrigates vegetable beds in the backyard.
Friedmann admits to the News Sentinel that the home’s rather stark white cedar exterior may throw some folks, including potential buyers, off: “When people see the exterior, they think it will be very sterile on the inside.” She continues: “The perception is that it will be modern and cold on the inside. We made an effort to incorporate a lot of warm colors into the home and use a lot of natural material and wood.”
Through testing conducted during research-heavy in-home residencies that lasted for a solid two-years, Friedmann and her colleagues found that the high-performance abode, described
by the University of Tennessee as "more than a single-family home; it is the embodiment of the university’s design and research excellence," consumes roughly half the energy as a home of a similar size and consumes 61 percent less water.
Good stuff all around. Best to the New Norris House team as those enthusiastic bids, one would hope, come pouring in ...
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