This is not your father’s mobile home.
Imagine a totally self-contained, 12-volt-powered, zero-footprint modular living space that can be transported anywhere. Completely off the power grid, it doesn’t need a foundation, nor does it require water, sewer, and other hook-ups. It’s equipped with state-of-the-art appliances, sets up in hours, and can be move-in ready in just a few days.
That’s the promise of the EnviraPod, says Alan Hewson, who with business partner David Delardi launched the Valley-based company Enviragen. They recently received patent-pending status for the innovative dwelling concept and plan to soon start mass-producing the nifty “people pods” right here in the Valley.
“The idea was basically to take the newest existing technology — from solar panels to integrated heating and electrical systems — and retrofit and combine them into one unit that’s simple, efficient, and attractive,” says Hewson, of Saugerties, who has a background in solar technology. “We think the EnviraPod can free the way people live, much like the way the Internet and iPhone have totally changed the way people communicate.”
Company cohort Delardi, who also owns Living Arts Landscapes Inc. in Highland, says his landscape-architecture experience piqued his own interest in creating a self-sustainable home that could be marketed to the masses.
“For instance, not being able to easily get services like electricity to remote spots on some landscaping projects, or to places like pool houses, helped get me interested in the idea of making all this possible,” he says.
A glimpse of the kitchen and living areas
The first prototype EnviraPod is now up and running at a private preserve in Highland. “At this point, we’re working on a one-by-one basis, doing custom orders” and building the pods on-site, Delardi says. Their first project took a five-person team about two to three months to finish. “Moving forward, we hope to open a small manufacturing facility nearby in the upcoming months,” Delardi adds. The basic EnviraPod model will run about $40,000 to $60,000; add-ons are included to customer specifications.
Everything about the EnviraPod — from closets to the sleeping loft — is designed to maximize space and save energy. Using eco-friendly materials and systems, EnviraPods feature a state-of-the-art solar panel setup to generate power, with a patented 12-volt whole-house wiring system that includes USB inputs, and an integrated Wi-Fi hot spot. High-performance structural insulated panels — they’re sort of like foam “sandwiches” that trap in heat — are used in floors and walls.
The EnviraPod has lots of creature comforts, too. Purchasers can opt for an audio/video entertainment system; there’s a fully functioning kitchen, and the bathroom includes a composting toilet and hot-and-cold water shower — part of a patented water-collection and storage system with built-in triple filtration. There’s natural bamboo flooring, LEED-certified interior and outdoor lighting, heating and cooling options depending on the climate — even an optional charging station for electric appliances and cars.
The modular pods can be linked together to create spaces ranging from 200 square feet up to about 1,200 square feet or more. At present, Enviragen is mostly constructing them on-site, but Delardi says the company is developing a customized tractor trailer system for easy delivery; customers can also transport the pods in the same way they would move an ordinary trailer or large shed. “We even made sure they would fit highway requirements to fit through overpasses,” Hewson explains.
“This concept is really a game-changer,” says Delardi. “You can literally be off the grid, with a zero carbon footprint. What really amazed me is how little energy you really need to make a house work.”
Since the dwellings are portable and self-sufficient, the sky’s the limit when it comes to possible EnviraPod uses. “Everyone from first-home buyers wanting to save money, to ecologically conscious consumers who want to reduce their carbon footprint, to organizations like parks or nature preserves” can all be possible clients for the pods, Hewson says. They can also serve as guest houses, offices, stores, vacation retreats — even as temporary housing for the homeless after hurricanes, floods, or other natural disasters or emergencies.
“We just want to put the EnviraPod out there and let it take on a life of its own,” says Hewson. “People may end up finding uses for them in ways we haven’t even imagined.”
For more information, visit www.enviragen.com.