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World's First Carbon-Positive Prefab Home Hits the Market

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Green building has entered an exciting new realm. Archiblox, an Australian architecture firm, has unveiled the world's first carbon-positive prefabricated home. The Archi+ Carbon Positive House, currently on display in Melbourne's City Square, is so efficient it can put energy back on the grid.

A photo posted by ArchiBlox (@archiblox) on

How is that possible? The home has all the bells-and-whistles of a sustainable dwelling, including solar rooftop panels, in-ground cooling tubes, sliding edible garden walls to block the sun's rays, an external planter bed to take grey wastewater and filter for toilet flushing, and more. Green Magazine writes that over the home's lifespan, it will emit 1,016 tons of carbon dioxide less than standard or average buildings with the same functionality. That's the equivalent of taking 267 cars off the road or planting 1,095 native Australian trees, the publication says. And because these homes are prefabricated, construction from start to finish only takes 12 to 28 weeks, reducing costs and resources. Archiblox's buildings are made with sustainable building materials that are formaldehyde and VOC free, such as a modular cabinet area with a "shladder" (a shelf and ladder) that leads to a hidden loft that can also be used as an extra bedroom.

"We have no mechanical heating and cooling in the home. We've got cool tubes to pull in cool air from the Earth, which is used to ventilate the house," ArchiBlox architect Bill McCorkell told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We have five kilowatts of solar power on the roof, edible gardens within the house itself, so it can be a bit self-sufficient for food production ... The whole house has been designed to maximize solar gain. There are no fans, it's all just naturally ventilated, cooled and heated."

The living areas, such as this "buffer zone" in the Melbourne house, are awash with natural sunlight and allow dwellers to grow plants and vegetables.

The cost of ArchiBlox's carbon-positive buildings start at $238,000AUD plus taxes, or approximately $185,687USD, for a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom unit measuring around 300 square feet. Although it's a pretty small space (those living in one would join the growing tiny home movement), the price tag is well around the median cost of a U.S. home, which is around $188,900. But that's not evening including the amount of money saved on energy.

In order for us to slash our unsustainable energy consumption, one good place to look is the roof over our heads. And while there certainly are plenty of green buildings out there, including Honda's experimental zero-carbon home sitting on the University of California at Davis, the fact is, the average American home uses up to 10,908 kilowatt hours annually, and we hope more projects like this take off.

More information about the company can be found on their website. Also check out ArchiBlox's installation of a 1 bedroom, 2 bathroom prefab home with a spacious rooftop deck, in the video below:

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"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."

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On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor said nearly 60 percent of the state was abnormally dry, up from 46 percent just last week, according to The Mercury News in San Jose.

The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.

"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.

Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.

"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.

NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.

As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.

"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.

The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.

"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."