VSL:SCIENCE // The ultimate green house

Some people wear their green credentials on their sleeves. This barn/studio wears its eco-cred on its skirt.

The “Brightbuilt Barn” seeks to be a “net-zero” structure, with no carbon footprint. With triple-glazed windows and heavily insulated, prefabricated walls, floors and ceiling, it’s so snug that it needs no fuel-driven heating plant, even in Maine; a rooftop solar unit provides any needed heat as well as stored hot water, while photovoltaics power the house’s electrical system and send extra juice to the grid.

The 700-square-foot prototype, which runs about $200,000 complete, is suitable for an office/studio or a small one-bedroom house; its modular design can be expanded or doubled for bigger abodes. And whatever its function, it dresses up nicely: Along with being air and bright, it sports LED lights running around its foundation that change colors, glowing red when the house is drawing from the grid, yellow when it’s near neutral, and green when it’s producing a surplus. It’s a bit like those read-outs in hybrid cars, only everyone can see it. The perfect place to park your Prius next to.

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