Taking a closer look at Clayton Homes’ zero energy i-house

I wrote about Green Bridge Farm, a sustainable community in Effingham County, in a post a few weeks ago.

Yesterday I went out again to Green Bridge Farm for the open house for Clayton Homes’ i-house, a zero energy home that utilizes a variety of sustainable technologies. It seems like kind of a no-brainer that we’ll see A LOT more homes like this in the future.

From the Clayton Homes press release for the event:

The August 12th and 13th open house will highlight the sustainable features that make the Green Bridge Farm i-house a net zero energy residence, the homeowner’s brand new Chevrolet Volt and Earth Comfort System of geothermal heating and cooling. Open house guests will also receive a tasting of the sustainable community project’s fresh produce and a tour of the farm.

Clayton’s ENERGY STAR® qualified i-house recently arrived in the Savannah area and can now be viewed, toured and purchased at Green Bridge Farm. The eco-friendly i-house launched nationally in 2009 when Warren Buffett unveiled the i-house to Berkshire-Hathaway Shareholders Meeting attendees.

While its sleek design and modern furnishings make the i-house easy on the eyes, its main attraction for home buyers are the sustainable options the home boasts, such as:

* Up to 30% reduced energy use
* Solar panels
* Rainwater collection systems
* Low-e windows
* Tankless water heaters
* Low-flow faucets
* Renewable bamboo flooring

Clayton Homes says energy costs for the i-house are less than $70 a month, but that figure drops to less than one dollar per day when the optional solar panel system is installed. By utilizing all available energy-saving features and Earth Comfort System’s geothermal HVAC system, the Green Farms i-house will have no electric bill.

There’s lots more about the i-house here at Clayton Homes.

I could totally live in a house of this design and construction. There are a variety of sizes and configurations possible — and expect Clayton and other companies to expand their offerings dramatically in the years ahead.

A few shots:

A photo I took a few weeks ago of the i-house exterior. "It looks like a trailer," people say, and it obviously has that sort of shape since it's essentially mobile.

The main entrance, which would typically face north. Note the western wall with few windows. That's perfect for avoiding hot, late afternoon sun, but the facade is definitely not one of the home's better architectural features. I could imagine trying to do some sort of green wall there, with vines climbing a frame.

I love the little guest suite, spare bedroom, potential office, etc. It's just off the same porch as the main building. This one is set up as a bedroom, with its own full bath.

Great porch atop the cube-shaped building. It's easy here to see the butterfly roof of the main building that makes it easy to capture rainwater funneled to an underground cistern. Those are solar panels to the left side of the roof.

Here and below: a few shots in the main portion of the i-house

I like the effect created by the butterfly roof.

Part of the energy monitoring system -- it's easy to see how much energy is being used in real time.

i-house resident Charles Davis, president of the Earth Comfort Company, Inc., discusses the home's elements with a guest at the open house.

Davis' Chevy Volt being charged from a station at the i-house.