AP Photo/Phil Coale


Boulder, Colorado is taking green housing to the masses. While demand for energy-efficient housing and green materials is growing, it's hard to deny that these resources are often out of the financial reach of many people. But the Boulder County Housing Authority is for the first time building a "near-zero-energy," low-incoming housing development.

Right now, there are only three units for low-income families, but the Paradigm Pilot Project is just a test-run for the county's more ambitious plan—ambitious even for the already energy-conscious region—for a 153-unit green neighborhood.

The houses are made from pre-constructed giant boxes (think Legos) and were trucked in from a factory and joined together on-site. The homes are insulated, have solar panels, and are oriented to maximize available sunlight. The ceiling and floor are made with waste lumber, the yard uses sod with 80 percent drought-tolerant material, and the building is built with a thermal chimney that will eliminate the need for air conditioners during the summer because it circulates air vertically through the house. The list of green attributes continues...

The mass production of the box units yields lower costs, which means if Boulder can buy them, other cities can too. Who's next?