Innovation: Brighter Building

The BrightBuilt Barn gives new meaning to green living. Designed by Kaplan Thompson Architects, the 700-square-foot space can be used as a work studio or even a two-bedroom home, and includes 90% prefabricated wood, super insulation, energy- and building-performance monitoring and solar thermal systems. The first model was constructed in Rockland, Maine, in December 2008 with the help of local green builders—and similar designs can now be ordered for construction and delivery within 10-12 weeks around the country. Their claim to fame? The buildings are “net zero plus,” meaning they generate more energy than they use. They are so ultra-efficient, in fact, that no furnace is required. Instead, enough heat is generated by the movement of the occupants and the use of appliances.

“For the future, we wish for a whole new way of building buildings,” says Kaplan architect Jesse Thompson. Innovative features include programmed LED lighting along the bottom of the barn that monitors energy use and gives the building a beautifully otherworldly glow—when at its most efficient the light skirt, appropriately, glows green.