Prefab Sustainable House with Geothermal System, Long Island, New York

About Bates Masi Architects

ArchitectureBates Masi Architects
LocationLong Island, New York
PhotosTy Cole

Greg and Victoria met on a Montauk beach at first when they were teenagers. After many years they decided to leave Manhattan and to return to Long Island where together they wanted to build a sustainable house. The Hamptons hamlet is a perfect place for children during summer. And when they made a decision to have a dwelling where their family with sons, Lucas and Dylan, could escape from the busy city, they definitely knew where it should be.

Paul Masi of Bates Masi Architects is a Victoria’s brother and they decided to work with him. Masi designed a special house for his sister and for his brother-in-law; the main area of the house has a double-height; kitchen, living room and dining room are located in one space connected with outdoors with a large glass pocket doors. Victoria told that they didn’t want to separate the indoors and outdoors. The project was finished in 2008 after two years of works. The house is environmentally friendly; has a geothermal cooling and heating system and a prefabricated foundation. The family got as a result a beach house with the perfect design.

Passive System for Cooling and Heating

During spring and autumn the space of living room, dining rooms and kitchen can be ventilated naturally as it opens on two sides. In summer the direct sunlight is prevented by an overhang and in winter the house has a lot of light and warmth, because it is time when the sun is low.

There are two layers of aluminum woven-coil drapes outside the south-facing large windows above the living room. Due to drapes the house is kept from the overheating in hot months, but when the weather is cooler they allow the sun to warm the space. The texture and appearance of drapes are similar to fireplace netting; they are produced by Cascade Coil Drapery, an Oregon company, and made of recycled scrap metal. The company also supplies the hearth market.

Geothermal System for Cooling and Heating

The house’s geothermal system is open-loop; this system uses 55-dergee temperature of the groundwater for cooling and heating the house. An exterior condenser was not need, as the needed equipment is in the basement utility room. Masi said that here the salt air corrodes them; so they didn’t want to have the condenser and they wanted use geothermal instead.

There are several types of geothermal systems, to heat and cool house they use the constant temperature of Earth, in winter it is warmer than the open air and in summer it is cooler. What kind to choose and is it necessary to install one, depends on some factors.

In the Pryors’ and in other open-loop systems the pipes draw water from the well into the house, then heat pump extracts heat or transfers excess heat to the water before its return to the ground. And in system, called closed-loop, there is some special solution in the pipes; this solution acts as a heat exchanger in buried under-ground pipes. If there is enough clean water that is supplied to the heat pump, an open-loop system is considered to be much more economical, because there is required less excavation.

A pond-loop system has sub-merged pipes in a water. A horizontal-loop system pipes can be buried six feet in the ground. For not large houses, vertical-loop systems may be suitable, but the price of burying pipes deeper than 400 feet down, is pretty high.

The main advantage of geothermal system is that it is more economical than air-conditioning and gas furnaces systems. And it is much more expensive. Every year the owners can save a lot of money, up to 60 percent. Also the upfront cost can be offset by the tax incentives.

Prefab House Design

The foundation of structure is made of concrete insulated panels, which were produced by Superior Walls of Hudson Valley. They were shipped to the building site, craned and bolted together. There was no need for panels to be waterproofed or coated during building process, as the panels are made of water-resistant, dense concrete mix.

Because of a prefabricated exterior walls could have excessively high price, the architects decided to change their plan. But the panels, produced at Cement Board Fabricators’ factory, were used as the rain screen. The prefabricated panels help the house keep comfort temperature by absorbing and transferring heat through gaps made for ventilation between the siding and panels.

In the house Masi used finishes, which are low in toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde and benzene, and volatile organic compounds. For painting the interior walls, there was used Benjamin Moore Aura matte paint. Osmo Polyx-Oil was used for sealing the American walnut floors, this finish includes thistle, soybean, and sunflower oils among its components.

Prefab Earth Sheltered Homes by Green Magic Homes

Prefab Earth Sheltered Homes by Green Magic Homes


Have you ever thought about living in a beautiful, comfortable and eco-friendly apartment? What about a "house under the hill"? The construction of such an unusual property is a bold experiment, but it is fully justified. Dreams where you can forget about high maintenance fees may come true! Don’t you believe? Let’s check!

More land for less money

The American company Green Magic Homes can offer you such a unique chance with modest prices – houses, made of high-quality materials and covered with vegetation. For example, a four hundred square foot earth-ship will cost you just about $14,000 US that is approximately $35 US per square foot. The company also proposes cheaper variants – belvederes that will cost a buyer only $25 US for a one square foot area. Though, this is a less viable option because of its open conception. But this variant also can be considered when choosing a suitable home for you.

Possibilities to expand your living space over and over again

The modules of these Prefab Earth Sheltered Homes are made of lightweight and durable material – a composite laminate. It is easier than ever to compile your home because the modules are assembled from prefabricated panels, mounted on a flat surface. And then with the help of a drill they are linked together through special holes on the edges. You will be pleasantly surprised to find out that the modular structure of such houses allows home owners to assemble at first a small house and then successively expand your living space when it is needed. Green Magic Homes assures its clients that such facilities and equipment as sewer system, plumbing and wiring channels as well as air channels can be added at any stage of construction and the external coverage is wholly waterproof.

Why not to plant greenery on the roof?

When all modules are assembled, the walls of your house will be covered up with soil. Sooner, grass or flowers will grow out in that place. But there is also another variant of such houses. Walls and roof are built into the earth at the very beginning, so that there will be no need to cover the house with vegetation.

The well-known company from Florida, Green Magic Homes, offers everyone to feel themselves like hobbits. You need only to purchase there a modular home, resembling a "house under the hill", assemble it and cover up the top layer with soil. This bears not only an aesthetic burden, but also gives you a chance to save your money on utilities costs. Even in colder climates it plays a big role in reducing the cost of Prefab Earth Sheltered Home heating because soil and grass covering gives the excellent heat insulating properties.

Infinite Design Possibilities

Green Magic Homes prefab technology allows you to generate varios spaces ideal for: permanent houses, camps, cabins, offices, hotel rooms, clinics, classrooms, health centers, lounges for meetings, covered parking, deposits, Gazebos, among many others more.