Net zero in a box

Apartment owners regularly borrow from other industries. We’re always on the hunt for concepts and models that could effectively transfer to the rental business making life simpler, building revenue streams and more.

The Flex House is perfect as part of a sustainable community. "We live big here in America, but at the same time there's a growing awareness around resource conservation," says Green Builder Media CEO Sara Gutterman. "What I like about the Flex House is we're not asking people to sacrifice; we're just asking people to not use any more than they need."

And so my obsession over Flex House, the newest concept-in-a-box (literally) which made its final on-tour appearance at CES in Vegas last month. Created by California-based modular housing company Shelter Dynamics, Flex House was a traveling prototype of a compact, ultra-smart net-zero home.

Flex House includes a fully integrated, advanced smart home system that streamlines energy use, serves as its own microgrid and produces all of its own energy. The micro house comes with state-of-the-art water conserving products and non-toxic, sustainable materials ensuring a healthy indoor space.

The 760-sq.-ft. unit is a pre-fab construction packed with smart home integrations and sustainability-minded fixtures including: Nexus eWater greywater recycling system, Rachio WaterSense smart irrigation controller that optimizes water use based on weather data, Sylvania smart lighting, Lutron smart shades, Wemo smart plugs, Sensi smart thermostat, and Kwikset smart lock –all integrated through Amazon Alexa, which is controlled by voice or app.

The uber-efficiency-focused design can also support charging an electric vehicle (60 PV panels from JinkoSolar, a battery system from Tabuchi Electric, and EV charging station from Bosch), as well as emissions-free landscaping using lithium battery-powered outdoor tools from Greenworks.

The unit includes a high-performance building envelope, and costs between $85,000 and $100,000 depending on the selected feature package. Many of these features could transfer to apartments, moving a property ever closer to the golden target of net zero.


Green Builder Media and Shelter Dynamics proudly introduce the Flex-House, a small footprint, resilient demonstration home that showcases solar and smart home technology.
Despite its high craftsmanship and customizable design, the Flex House was designed to be affordable. The base model will range from $85,000 to $100,000.
At 760 square feet, the Flex House includes a master bedroom, smaller bedroom or office, bathroom, two living areas, a full kitchen and a flexible “niche.” More than a tiny house, the Flex House represents a realistic alternative to today’s oversized homes–a solution that could work for any number of customers, from young Millennial families to empty nesters.
The kitchen has compact 24″ European-style appliances–excellent for small spaces from Bosch.
The home also features intelligent water products, namely the elegant low-flow plumbing fixtures from American Standard that conserve water, and the advanced greywater system by Nexus e-Water that enables reuse of greywater for landscaping and toilet flushing.
With its cutting edge-solar system from Jinko, the Flex House produces its own power and can therefore be grid-tied or independent.
The advanced smart home hub platform connects voice-enabled controls with a variety of intelligent systems within the same home, including the tunable, dimmable LED lights from Sylvania-LEDVANCE, as well as the Rachio smart irrigation system.