WisBusiness: Pea Pod Homes’ color is green

By Kyle Ripple

Despite the decline of both home sales and new home construction around the country, Pea Pod Homes LLC has found an area of the housing market that is growing: green construction.

This Sturgeon Bay, Wis., company specializes in the production of prefabricated homes that capture the energy of the earth and sun. This is accomplished through what the company calls a unique concept and proprietary energy modeling software.

Pea Pod Homes LLC made its debut in Boston, Mass., at the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association’s “Building Energy 08” conference in early March.

Reduced nonrenewable energy requirements of Pea Pod homes are achieved by the development of a circular air flow system that surrounds the living space. This convection system insulates and assists in the heating and cooling of the home.

In every Pea Pod home, one side of the house contains a southerly-facing sunspace that consists of an outer wall of windows and an inner wall composed of six-inch by six-inch pine logs. Sunlight passes through the windows and warms the inner wall.

This sunspace heats the air in this space and causes it to rise to the roof. As the air cools it falls down the north wall of the home to the space below the home where it becomes the same temperature as the ground, only to return to the sunspace to be warmed again.

“This flow of air creates an air temperature within the home that doesn’t fluctuate much,” said Mark Rittle, head of Pea Pod Homes sales and production. “Inside temperatures should remain between the low and mid 70s on sunny days.”

The stored energy in the logs keeps the house heated during the nighttime hours, according to Rittle.

“From our computer modeling, our 2,000 square foot home if built in Green Bay, Wis., will have an annual heating bill of $200,” said Rittle.
Pea Pod homes are made from structural insulated panels. These panels are composed of six-inch polystyrene panels that have an R-value of 22.

“Think about putting ice that remains in a sealed cooler after a hot summer day,” said Rittle. “The cooler probably only has an inch of polystyrene. Imagine living in a house that has six inches of it.”

Besides keeping the home better insulated, SIP panels allow for faster construction. Rittle estimates that the walls of a Pea Pod home will be able to be put together on site after manufacturing in less than two days and completely sealed with windows and doors in only a week.

“Although a Pea Pod home will cost 10 percent more in materials, the savings are immediate in labor,” Rittle said.

Materials costs will fluctuate between different regions of the country, but it is estimated that a 2,200 square foot Pea Pod home will cost $119,486.

Besides providing a home that saves energy, Pea Pod Homes LLC has developed their homes in such a way that additions can be easily made. There are a series of pods that customers can choose from to make a house that fits their needs.

If their needs change and they want to add a great room on to their already constructed house, Pea Pod Homes has a pod that will easily fit onto the home without requiring an architect.
Pea Pod Homes plans to market their building plans and software nationally.

“Consumers are increasingly asking their home builders for green option in their new construction,” said Rittle. “We hope to provide builders with this energy saving choice in their portfolios.”

To find more information about Pea Pod Homes LLC go to www.peapodhomes.com.

Ripple is a UW-Madison student in the Department of Life Science Communication.