Work in Progress: the Homes of the Future – Today

posted by David, Griffin York & Krause Public Relations

One of the things I like about PR is that it allows me to stay connected to my news roots by telling some great stories while working with both traditional and social media to help get these stories told.  There’s a project that I’ve worked on for about two years now that I’m constantly telling friends, family and people in my office about, raving about what a great story it is.  Then the other day someone said to me “well if it’s such a great story why not blog about it.”  So here it is.  What I’m so excited about is called the OPEN Prototype Initiative.  The two groups that are leading OPI are the MIT Open Source Building Alliance and my client Bensonwood Homes of Walpole, NH. The over-arching goal of OPI (and it’s ambitious) is to improve the way ALL homes are built in America.  Tedd Benson, founder of Bensonwood Homes and author of several books on home building, is a driving force behind OPI, working with Kent Larson at MIT, who is also an internationally known architect, lecturer and author.

OPI's Unity House is a net-zero home, producing more energy than it uses

Bensonwood and OPI's "Unity House" is a net-zero home, producing more energy than it uses.

Recently OPI completed Unity House, the second in a series of homes the Initiative is designing and building in order to illustrate better ways to build so that homes are more affordable, adaptable and energy efficient.   There are several really amazing elements to the home but some of the most interesting are the facts that it’s net-zero, which means it produces more energy than it uses, it will likely achieve LEED Platinum building standards (highest in the industry) and perhaps most importantly, Bensonwood is bringing three customizable versions of this house to the general market. Now some of my more jaded friends in the media or in the “green” space would see what I wrote above as blatant marketing for these homes and there will be those who question just how “green” Unity House is.  There are also those who will say I’m just excited about this project because they’re a client.  I’m confident Bensonwood and OPI can defend any of the statements we make about their work and believe me, my own enthusiasm is based on the fact that I believe in what they’re doing.  Let me add that one of the reasons that I believe it’s so important that Bensonwood is bringing these homes to market is that they’re doing something.  These aren’t “future homes”they’re ready right now and they’re sharing techniques and innovations with the industry to help enable change and hopefully drive down costs.   Again, there will be those who take issue with some of the techniques, design work or other elements of this project, but that’s okay.  OPI wants to create a dialogue because that is what leads to change, and that’s a good thing.  Heck, our country seems to be really enamored with one guy who keeps talking about “change”…it’s not a bad thing to be talking about a project that wants to create a change for the better starting right at home.

the Benson-designed "Weston House" was featured on a recent episode of "This Old House"

The Benson-designed "Weston House" was featured on a recent episode of "This Old House"

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