Recyclers see 'i-house' plans

Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Marshall County Solid Waste Director Morgan Thomas, left, is treasurer of the Tennessee Recycling Coalition and is seen awaiting his turn to address a Coalition conference seminar on curbside collection of recyclables. Brent Battliner of QRS Recycling is at right.

COOL SPRINGS -- Lewisburg and Marshall County leaders at the Tennessee Recycling Coalition conference last Thursday saw modular home designs emphasizing green technology.

A prototype of Clayton Homes' "i-house" includes energy-efficient fixtures such as a tankless water heater and flooring made from bamboo, a very renewable resource because it grows so quickly.

Totally unaware of how single-wide mobile homes had been a campaign platform for a Marshall County commissioner elected in 2006, Wes Boyd, an architect with CMH Manufacturing Inc. in Maryville, Tenn., described the "i-house" to several hundred Recycling Coalition members and guests with a Power Point presentation.

Boyd, however, is very aware of the stigma attached to house trailers, a fact of life fought by Clayton Homes. Yet it was Commissioner Scottie Poarch who promised his voters to overturn Marshall County's ban on single-wide mobile homes. Poarch did so within months of his election over Kim Wing, now a restaurateur in Lewisburg who's expressed relief that she's free of the responsibilities she faced while serving as an appointed commissioner.

Boyd's presentation at the Cool Springs Conference Center was developed from Clayton Home's display of the "i-house" at an October home show in Knoxville. The company says the "i-house" will be on the market this May.

The "i-house" is called that because when its floor plans are viewed vertically, they appear to be in the shape of a lower case letter i. The dot on top of the vertical line, as depicted on the floor plans, is a "flex room" that's flexible enough to be an office or bedroom with a bathroom. The roof of that part of the "i-house" is an elevated deck.

Another deck is between the flex room and the rest of the house for outdoor living, Boyd told his audience without noting that decks are required under Marshall County building codes for mobile homes.

The "i-house" has a wide v-shape roof which, if enough customers want the fixtures, could collect rainwater to be used for irrigation and stored in a gray water tank, thereby conserving the use of city water, Boyd said.

Sewer bills are based on water consumption.

Heat pumps without ducts, new technology for wall boards and double-pane windows are part of the "i-house" design that's "almost over-insulated," Boyd said.

"It's unique," he said. "It's not for everybody."

"It's interesting," Lewisburg Councilwoman Quinn Brandon said of the house. "I just don't know how much it will cost."

The 990-square-foot prototype -- built with kitchen cabinets, a high-efficiency dishwasher and other fixtures bought at retail prices -- cost $250 per square foot, or a total of $247,500, according to Boyd. That includes solar panels. Boyd refused to disclose Clayton Homes' price for an "i-house" this spring.

Clayton Homes had a "special" last year for an 872-square-foot home that sold for $29,900, Boyd said.

Beyond promoting recycling, Marshall County's Solid Waste Department director says the Tennessee Recycling Coalition provides "nuts and bolts" educational programs on the subject for government and business groups.

It promotes the reuse of what's collected for recycling. As part of that, Thomas says the coalition speaks of industrial scrap, instead of waste because it may be reused instead of discarded.

Thomas' presentation during a conference seminar was on single-stream recycling. It's what's being expanded from the southwest quadrant of Lewisburg to the rest of town this spring. It allows paper, plastic and metal to be collected together and sorted later.

Also at the conference were Barbara Woods, chairwoman of Lewisburg's Curbside Recycling Committee, and County Commission Chairwoman Mary Ann Neill.