18. The Instant Smart HouseGet It
The fantasy of off-the-grid living—make that luxurious off-the-grid living—is inching closer to reality. That’s thanks to Max Gerbut, the brains behind a 3-D-printed manufactured house called the mOne. Unlike prefabs, this 400-square-foot unit—with a sleek minimalist Scandinavian look, large windows, and a bright-white interior—arrives fully assembled, inside and out, and ready to hoist in place anywhere. All you need to do is fill the roughly 500-gallon water tank. Solar panels gather enough energy to run the house, from the refrigerator to a high-definition projector.
Gerbut, a window manufacturer with a Ph.D. in robotics engineering and physics, has long been dismayed by what he sees as a lack of innovation in the construction industry, especially compared with other, more forward-looking sectors. “The industry is too conservative,” Gerbut says. “We’ve got advanced smartphone and autonomous-driving Teslas, but why do I still have to live in a cave?” To reinvent the domicile, his Reno, Nevada–based company, PassivDom, has developed a proprietary building composite 20 times better at retaining heat than an insulated wood house. With its composite walls, roof, and energy-efficient windows, the mOne is so thermally sound that you’d use more energy bringing a cup of water to a boil than the house needs to keep itself warm for an hour in winter.
Outfitted with more than 100 interior sensors, it’s got brains, too. Doors automatically close to retain heat, and if you run the tap waiting for a hot shower, that clean water is directed back into the house. Algorithms control heating and cooling, even moving the window shades to block the sun.
So far, a dozen versions of the mOne are spoken for and headed to California, as guesthouses and Airbnb units, and to Arizona for a student residence. Gerbut also sees them as perfect vacation homes in remote locations for buyers who want an energy-efficient house with AI that helps it take care of itself. But it’s not tech for tech’s sake. Says Gerbut: “Smart gadgets inside a dumb cave doesn’t make the cave innovative.”
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