Treehugger Debate: Is Prefab a Greener Way to Build?


I’m still not quite sure how it happened and why I agreed to it, but I will be participating in a live debate on this Thursday on the greenness of Prefab.

I guess this all started when I wrote a guest blog post for Jetson Green titled Prefab is Not The Answer to Affordable, Modern & Green Homes. Lloyd Alter from Treehugger who has prefab experience picked up the post and quickly some disagreements to my reasoning and a few others ended up chiming in with their own responses. All of these posts are linked to at the bottom of the Jetson Green post if you’re curious for the background.

Anyways, the debate will be between Michelle Kaufmann and myself and will be broadcast live at 3:30PM EST. The big difference between Michelle and I is that she is a successful developer of prefab homes, designs and companies while I am just a dude trying to build a few cool homes in Philly before my wife kicks me out of the house for wasting all of her time and money. Besides that, we probably have a lot in common and I look forward to her tearing me to shreds on a public forum. If you’d like to witness my humiliation, tune in in real time this Thursday.


  1. Wes says:

    Wow, this is awesome!
    She’s going to be tough competition – but we’ll be pulling for ya.
    Good luck – can’t wait to hear the debate on Thursday!

  2. Todd Oskin says:

    Sounds awesome!
    If I were a betting man, I’d bet on you!

    P.S. – Any way you can record this, so i can listen to it in non-real-time? (I’ll be in West Virginia rock climbing)

  3. Well you should not fret, because you are right, but not because prefab is not a greener way to build, but because the way prefab is done in the US is not particularly efficient nor lean. It takes more than building under roof. Staying dry, and warm, and not loosing days to rain – yes, that all helps. But the real opportunity for building green prefab is designing the process to allow you to build more value into the house for less cost.

    Prop yourself up by reviewing my blog post de-constructing the practices in American Modular factories.

  4. Ian Watson says:

    Just saw the news that you’ve ditched on the debate. I guess a baby is a good enough excuse. Congrats!

  5. […] an online debate between prefab’s sweetheart, Michelle Kaufmann, speaking for the affirmative and Chad Ludeman of Postgreen Homes speaking for the negative. After some heated online blogging this last year, […]

  6. Chad Ludeman says:

    Thanks Ian. The debate is back on tomorrow.

  7. Hey, I enjoyed the debate! I agree with Greg that you’re right. Michelle’s “products” aren’t inexpensive enough to get traction. She protests that when comparing apples to apples, prefab is less expensive, but you build an orange that she can’t build in a factory. The most important example of this is that you can use the slab for the finished floor. She has to build and then ship a whole bunch of floor. You save on floor materials AND foundation costs. Oh, and nobody in the prefab world will be shipping an R50 12″ double stud wall chock full of cellulose anytime soon.

    And it was very classy not to mention that MKD closed in 2009 yet Postgreen is thriving.

  8. Chad Ludeman says:

    Thanks Kevin! That was a long piece to watch. There was much tongue biting and so much more detail we could’ve gone off on. My mates got mad at me for going too easy on the subject.

    The most frustrating topic was cost. There is just no comparing the prefabs being marketed online for $200 – $400 PSF for boxes only to all-in site built for less than $150 PSF. No comparison. You are correct. We (and others like us) are building much greener homes on half the budget than most of these modern & green prefab companies out there. Period.

    If prefab was cheaper, then the big production builders would be doing it. They are not.

    Yes, prefab is greener in Europe, as I stated. They are also building a much higher quality and more expensive product. Again, if you double the budget, you will get a greener product. That doesn’t mean prefab is greener than site built. Enough words. I’ll let the market stats over the coming years do the rest of our talking.

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