- Project Name
- Ecological Living Module (ELM)
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- New Construction
- 230 sq. feet
- Year Completed
- Shared by
- Project Status
2018 Residential Architect Design Awards / Custom Home Less Than 3,000 Square Feet / Award
“It takes a conceptual idea and then carries it all the way through. It’s fantastic and fun, but also thoughtful and demonstrates a lot of ideas. I would live there.” —Rosalyne Shieh
New Haven, Conn.–based Gray Organschi Architecture and the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture designed the Ecological Living Module (ELM) for temporary installation at the United Nations headquarters in New York during the summer of 2018. The demonstration house embodies strategies for residential construction that meet the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, can accommodate up to four people, and operates completely off-grid.
Incorporating systems for on-site energy, water, air, and waste management, the 230-square-foot prefabricated unit makes use of vapor-open construction assemblies for floor, walls, and roof. The main level incorporates a small but well-appointed kitchen, bathroom, and living space under the dramatically sloped roof, which rises from a sunshaded glass door at its south end to a height of 16 feet at its north.
All required energy is produced by a combination of traditional photovoltaic panels on the roof and an integrated concentrating solar façade from HeliOptix, which contains small solar cells in the air gap of a double-glazed façade that both generates energy and serves as sunshades to limit heat gain and reduce overall energy needs. Eighty percent of rainwater is captured, stored, and filtered for potable use. All graywater is retained to provide irrigation for a microfarming wall, which if deployed on both long elevations could provide up to 65 percent of the fruit and vegetable servings recommended per family each year. An indoor air-purifying plant wall, located in a narrow double-height space above the kitchen and adjacent to the loft sleeping space, promotes good cross ventilation and is predicted to remove 99 percent of small particulate air pollutants from the ELM’s environment.
While intended specifically as a solution for housing around the globe, the designers note that the module is adaptable for commercial and retail uses as well. They predict that the ELM can be produced for $50,000 per unit when put into large-scale production.
Project: Ecological Living Module, New York, N.Y. /site-variable
Client/Owner: United Nations Environment Programme; United Nations Human Settlements Programme
Architect: Gray Organschi Architecture, New Haven, Conn. . Lisa Gray, FAIA, Alan Organschi, (principals); Parker Lee (senior associate); Andrew Ruff, Assoc. AIA (research coordinator); Dan Kazer (fabrication specialist); Brittany Olivari, Andrew Padron, Larry Beddall, Elaina Berkowitz, Nathaniel Elmer, Kelley Johnson, Joshua Kuhr, Seth Lauderdale, Yanbo Li, Jackson Lindsay, August Organschi, Oscar Scott, Ben Smith, Arghavan Taheri, Aslan Taheri, Joe Weisbord, Jack Wolfe (project team); Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture, New Haven, Conn. . Anna Dyson (director); Hind Wildman (director of communications and research development); Nick Novelli (director of research and engineering); Naomi Keena, Mohamed Aly-Etman (postdoctoral associates); Kipp Bradford, Mandi Pretorius, Phoebe Mankiewicz, Marshall James, Christopher Preusch, Paulo Pinheiro, Sheldon McLeod, George Graham, Adam Katzman, Kunhee Chang, Martin Man, Abena Bonna, Emma Crow-Willard, Valantyn Koziak (project team)
Structural Engineer: Jacobson Structures
General Contractor: Jig Design Build
Consultant and Facilitator: Yale School of Architecture
Solar Energy Consultant: HeliOptix
Indoor Air Remediation Consultant: Fresh Air Building Systems
Size: 230 square feet
Cost: Prototype cost undetermined; estimated at-scale production cost $50,000 per unit
Materials and Sources
Appliances: Avantco, Isotherm
Bathroom Fixtures: Moen
Cabinets: Jig Design build, ABR Construction
Exterior Wall Systems: 475 High Performance Building Supply
Fabrics/Finishes: Norton Upholstery
Glass: Bryant Glass and Shower Doors
HVAC: Fresh Air Building Systems, Future Air, Messana Radiant Cooling
Kitchen Fixtures: Ruvati
Paints/Finishes: Benjamin Moore, Minwax
Photovoltaics/Other Renewables: HeliOptix, Brooklyn SolarWorks
Plumbing/ Water System: Chapel Plumbing, Sun-Mar
Roofing: Keith Howard Roofing
Structural System: Structure Fusion, Nordic Structures
FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
The housing sector uses 40 per cent of the planet’s total resources and represents more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Constructed primarily from locally-sourced, bio-based renewable materials, the module is efficient, multi-functional and engineered to operate independently.
New York, 09 July 2018 – UN Environment and Yale University in collaboration with UN Habitat today unveiled a new eco-housing module, to spark public discussion and new ideas on how sustainable design can provide decent, affordable housing while limiting the overuse of natural resources and climate change.
The 22-square-meter “tiny house” is fully powered by renewable energy and designed to test the potential for minimizing the use of natural resources such as water.
The Ecological Living Module – unveiled during the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development – is constructed primarily from locally-sourced, bio-based renewable materials.
UN Environment’s collaborator, the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture, worked with Gray Organschi Architecture to design, fabricate and install the Ecological Living Module. The unit is efficient and multi-functional, accommodating up to four people, serving both domestic and commercial purposes.
“We clearly need more housing, but the key thing is that we also need smarter housing” said UN Environment Head, Erik Solheim. “The housing sector uses 40 per cent of the planet’s total resources and represents more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. So making them more efficient will benefit everyone, and it’ll mean lower bills too. Innovations like the Ecological Living Module are what we need more of.”
“Adequate housing is at the heart of sustainable urbanisation” said UN-Habitat Executive Director, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif. “The use of proper building materials, better planning and improved construction techniques can make energy use in buildings more efficient. If adopted widely, this practice can create jobs and prosperity with lower greenhouse gas emissions.”
Engineered to operate independently, the module’s built-in systems include solar energy generation using less than 1 percent of toxic semiconductor materials, on-site water collection, micro agricultural infrastructure, natural daylighting, plant-based air purification, passive cross-ventilation, and a range of flexible, adaptable components for living and working.
Around one billion people worldwide currently live in informal settlements, while millions more live in buildings that are not environmentally friendly. Rapid urbanization and economic growth challenge communities to sustainably expand capacity, heightening the need for innovation in building systems and infrastructure.
“Architecture must address the global housing challenge by integrating critically needed scientific and technical advances in energy, water, and material systems while remaining sensitive to the cultural and aesthetic aspirations of different regions,” said Deborah Berke, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture.
The first demonstration unit, located in the UN Plaza in New York City, from July 9-18, contains features relevant to the local climate and context of New York. Future iterations of the module – including one in Kenya, the home of UN Environment – will respond specifically to local climatic and cultural contexts.