Building Green, Raising Money


mklotus3.jpgArchitectural design firm Michelle Kaufmann Designs invited us to check out their latest green prefabricated home, which they are assembling in San Francisco this week for the West Coast Green conference. The factory-manufactured ‘mkLotus’ home is the brainchild of architect Michelle Kaufmann and is made of eco materials, like sustainably-harvested wood and cement board, and uses solar panels and a gray water system. We have to admit it’s got style, though this souped-up version goes for a whopping $300225,000 plus tax (that’s not even including the cost of transportation) for a house with the size and feel of a really chic feel-good trailer. [update: the company originally told us 300K but revised the estimate to $225K]

The Oakland, Calif.-based 5-year-old company told us on Sunday that it is currently looking to raise a first round of funding in the range of $15 million to $20 million, and is actively talking with the venture community. While venture investment in a design firm might be unusual, green building companies have been able to raise significant money recently.

Eco drywall maker Serious Materials is in the process of raising $50 million. While numerous green lighting startups are trying to offer alternatives to inefficient lighting technologies.

Prefabricated homes aren’t likely to save the world, but the intention is to offer an efficiently-made well-designed alternative, which has less effect on the building site, and can be made in less time. We chatted briefly with Kaufmann, and the the assembly crew on Sunday, but for a good overview of why the company thinks houses created in a factory are good for the planet, check out this interview with Kaufmann on Inhabitat.


Joel Leitson

Great stuff here!
Modular / prefab homes will offer solutions to the world’s housing shortage for the deprived, under-privileged and low income populations in society by providing a total system for basic, low-cost, quality built housing. The modular housing constructed with sandwich panels is the lowest in cost, most rapidly erected, simplest in design, and most structurally sound basic housing in existence today. Plus, you can ship 21 houses in a 40 foot container.

My 2 cent’s……..Joel


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Jim Beyer

How hard is it to build sustainably for $300,000? At that price, why not just build a reasonable home and then give $200,000 to the Nature Conservancy or whatever?

This is how investment bubbles get started. Too many dollars chasing too few (good) ideas. If you want to get involved with sustainable housing, there is the perfect place to explore these options. It’s called New Orleans.

(And then I invested in some more dumb stuff……)

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