The last time I checked in with the state of green mobile home park living was back in 2009 with the unveiling and release of the i-House from Clayton Homes. As I pointed out, The i-House, an i-shaped home with eco-friendly bells and whistles both included (tight insulation, a rainwater collecting roof) and optional (bamboo flooring, rooftop photovoltaics), is built specifically for mobile parks, not for urban or suburban lots. Back then I wondered if the mostly blue-collar manufactured home market would readily embrace (read: purchase) a well-designed, decidedly upscale prefab abode with eco-friendly features that costs upwards of $75,000.

As TreeHugger’s Lloyd Alter writes in an August 2010 post about the release of i-House 2.0, a larger, version of the original i-House: “The trailer park is a great model for green housing; you rent the land but usually own a pretty small unit and share a lot of resources, be them recreational or laundry. They are built at a reasonably high density. But the people who live in them don't get green, and the people who get green don't get trailer parks.”

It’s unclear how the i-Home has fared thus far. Preston at Jetson Green claims that the home has been “insanely popular” while other reports are leaning more towards DOA. The i-House aside, one thing is for sure: the interest in not-so-affordable green prefab living outside of mobile home parks has soared over the past couple of years.

And now comes this intriguing development on the green mobile home park front:

As reported in the L.A. Times by Susan Carpenter (be sure to check out her fantastic new Can I Recycle … Column), Marmol Radziner Prefab, a leader in super high-end modular building (we’re talking homes in the $2 million range), is giving affordable green mobile homes a go.

The firm has partnered with manufactured home builder Golden West Homes and the city of Santa Monica to install 20 new homes in the Mountain View Mobile Home Park by the end of March. One hundred and five rental slots strong, Mountain View is owned by the city of Santa Monica as part of the city's affordable housing program meaning that the new homes will actually be rental units. Residents are expected to be able to move into their new digs by April.

The 20 homes range from 400 to 1,000 square feet and in their most basic configuration cost $60 per square foot making them more affordable than the i-House. Outside of this special project, Marmol Radziner Prefab homes start at $200 per square foot with custom designs starting at $400 per square foot. Green features include (and it’s not clear which are included and which are optional) rain barrels, compost bins, rooftop solar panels, solar hot water heaters, EnergyStar appliances, CLF and Solatube lighting, and vertical green screens for gardening.

Marmol Radziner Prefab COO Todd Jerry tells the L.A. Times:

For prefab to really work as a concept and as a business, you need to do it on projects such as this one with repetition and multiple volume. Combining prefab at an affordable price point and doing it with green features, in our opinion, is the ultimate application of prefab. It's the opposite end of the spectrum from where we've been working.
I’m curious to see how this all pans out … it’s certainly the first instance of a colony of green mobile homes within a larger, established mobile home park that I’ve come across. Will Marmol Radziner Prefab continue to design affordable mobile homes for clients that aren't the city of Santa Monica? And I wonder if the folks who end up renting the Marmol Radziner Prefab-designed homes will be current Mountain View tenants looking to upgrade to more efficient digs or completely new (qualified) residents moving into Mountain View from mobile or non-mobile homes. 

Via [L.A. Times], [Curbed LA]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Green mobile home living comes to Santa Monica
Marmol Radziner Prefab, a high-end modular home firm based in L.A., designs 20 affordable prefab rental homes for Santa Monica's Mountain View Mobile Home Park