Off the Shelf: John Quale

John D. Quale, associate professor of architecture, "Sustainable, Affordable, Prefab: The ecoMOD Project." University of Virginia Press.

"Sustainable, Affordable, Prefab" combines architectural theory and practice in an illustrated account of ecoMOD, the innovative design/build program that Quale pioneered almost a decade ago. Unlike most manifestos of green design, Quale's book describes a collaborative process that has produced, to date, four elegantly designed and built examples of sustainable affordable housing.

Implementing the principles that produced an award-winning Solar Decathlon project in 2002, Quale and his U.Va. architecture students, working with colleagues in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and with affordable housing providers, created four designs for environmentally sensitive affordable dwellings.

The houses, built with modular units and/or panelized building components, include a two-unit condominium, a post-Katrina home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a historic renovation with an accessible addition and a townhouse configuration that can be replicated and mass-produced for Habitat for Humanity. Each design pays attention to its site and incorporates sustainable materials and systems such as solar hot water and rainwater retention, and strives for zero energy load.

ecoMOD's success of offers multiple lessons for practicing architects interested in affordable, sustainable design or prefabrication; for architectural educators looking for new ways to engage students; and for anyone looking to build a sustainable home.