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Startup partners with architects to create new kind of home with some remarkable features — and the prototype just sold for over $4 million

"It is also designed to outperform a majority of comparably sized homes."

"It is also designed to outperform a majority of comparably sized homes."

Photo Credit: Aro Homes

New York–based architectural firm Olson Kundig and San Francisco–based startup Aro Homes have partnered to create a prefabricated single-family home that they claim produces net-zero planet-overheating emissions. The prototype home, located in Mountain View, California, just sold for $4.2 million.

The pricey home's planet-friendly features include optimal solar orientation, roof-mounted photovoltaics, and gray water reclamation, the latter of which reduces the home's water usage by up to 45% compared to a standard home. Olson Kundig told The Architect's Newspaper that these features would offset the home's embodied carbon within 16 years.

The 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house is built partially offsite, which allows the builders to use less energy than it would take to construct the entire thing on-site. According to Olson Kundig, the process uses 67% less energy than the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2030 Challenge Baseline for energy performance.

"This first Arohome is one of the most environmentally positive houses Olson Kundig has ever designed. It is also designed to outperform a majority of comparably sized homes by providing better than net zero energy performance and overall carbon neutrality — while maintaining a high level of design, craft and material quality," Blair Payson, principal and owner at Olson Kundig, said.

Other firms across the U.S. have also leaned into prefab houses as a method of creating more environmentally sustainable construction practices, including S2A Modular, Clayton Homes, and Deltec Homes. Prefab construction allows the entire process to be streamlined and efficient.

While many of t he homes designed to be environmentally friendly are made as small as possible to use as little energy as possible, Aro Homes is attempting to show that large houses big enough for a whole family can also include features that are good for the planet.

Of course, even if you don't have $4.2 million to drop on a Bay Area four-bedroom, there are still steps that you can take to make your own home's footprint as small as possible. These include weatherizing your house, switching to an induction burner or stove, and installing a heat pump.

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