Why Free and Premium:
FreeGreen offers both Sponsored and Non-Sponsored or clean House Plans. Our goal in this offering is to give our users choice. You can either download our Non-Sponsored Premium Plans as soon as they are released for a nominal fee (currently $19.95 a year for unlimited downloads) or wait for us to line up sponsors, and only download our Free House Plans. Now downloading over 36,000 free house plans a year, and with hundreds of Premium Members we believe that we are now truly changing the residential housing landscape.
Our Premium Users also get access to our house plans editable CAD files, $1000’s of exclusive vendor product discounts, and 50% off all house plan customization work done by FreeGreen. With this Premium Membership is a great way for FreeGreen to offer valuable (Non-Sponsored) resources to our users for a price that is unheard of in the house plan industry.
Our theory around our Free House Plans is as follows:
No longer are homes made from simple raw materials. Today’s homes are assembled from a complex combination of existing products and service providers. With this transition in home assembles, product placement has become a natural part of the home design process (especially in green homes). From choosing cabinets that work with your kitchen, to making sure your insulation performs well and contributes to good indoor air quality, it all comes down to the products that we choose. FreeGreen has taken advantage of this progression in construction reality to create a symbiotic environment where the placement of our sponsor or vendor products allows us to create better, more usable house plans for our users, while giving us the ability to offer those same house plans for free. That said, we are not shy in saying that: FreeGreen would not exist without paid placement from product manufacturers, and all product or service provider placements should be considered advertising. In the same way that television has used advertiser revenues to bring us our favorite programs for free, FreeGreen, is using house plan product placement to promote and disseminate green design for free.
In order to avoid product bias, we present every product and material in a fair and clear light. Users can see ratings from established third-party green certification programs such as LEED and NAHB for each product (good or bad), or research performance through our energy modeling reports. Our goal is to show you a multitude of material and product possibilities through various lenses, including quality, health, and energy performance.
We encourage users of this website to help us develop new designs. Feel free to tell us about the products and features you would like to see in our upcoming plans.
"Green" means different things to different people, and there are numerous 3rd party standards which help shape this concept within residential building. At FreeGreen we do not want to create another competing prescriptive standard. Our goal is to give our users house plans which simultaneously provide design and product options that meet or exceed existing third party standards, while giving users choice and options in the realm of cost, style, and environmental commitment. As an example, all of our homes are designed to perform 30% to 50% better than prescriptive building code energy performance. The level of home performance depends on the “package” of products that a user chooses.
For every product that is specified into a FreeGreen plan we show and describe that products performance from various perspectives including their point ratings in the LEED-H, and (once released) NABH Green Building standards.
About Our Designs:
At FreeGreen we believe that design should be a collaborative interdisciplinary process in which multiple objectives are synthesized into a single solution. That’s why the FreeGreen design team has educational and professional backgrounds spanning architecture, engineering, construction, and finance. We understand that one design does not fit all and it is our intent to produce a variety of designs that will meet not just the needs of the statistically average consumer but also begin to address some of the common niche needs in the housing market. We want to represent the average consumer with specific needs who cannot afford a custom architect but doesn’t want to live in a generic suburban home. We want to design for the small builder who’s is looking to develop a few lots a year. We want to design for niches like empty nesters that are downsizing, small families who want healthy and durable homes and large families with small budgets.
Our focus through 2010 is on smaller to midsized homes. Our goal stylistically is provide diversity of choice to while educating consumers about how different design concepts could improve the qualities of one’s life. We try and focus as much as possible on simple fundamentally sound design principles to produce affordable and durable homes that still provide a better fit than typical suburban options. We highly encourage our users to contact us and tell what types of designs they want to see.
One of the things that separates FreeGreen from other stock plan providers is the extensive visualization. We understand that not everybody is an architect who can visualize a 2-dimensional floor plan. We produce 3-dimensional renderings to give an idea of what the interior of the homes could look like. We produce energy reports detailing how these designs would perform in different climates. Within the design documents we provide multiple detail options to allow the builder to adapt the design to different site and climate requirements. These designs can be followed meticulously or sampled from the choice is up to you.
Do I Have To Use FreeGreen Products?
No. The products and service providers placed into FreeGreen plans are a suggestion. Both we, and our advertisers expect that for every user some products in our plans will be used and some will be switched out. This is OK, and encouraged. At FreeGreen we stand behind every product placement that we make, and are very supportive of our advertisers, but as always the ultimate decision is up to you and your builder.
FreeGreen’s founders are an energetic, young, progressive, and diverse group of designers, engineers, and businesspeople. It is this variety of expertise that has helped us develop our core belief: “Good home design comes from a collaborative effort in which aesthetics, performance, and value are constantly discussed, debated, and maximized.” This mantra of collaboration has permeated every part of our business. From our HR policy of only enlisting designers who have a long-term focus on green plus real-world construction experience, to our unique dedication to involving HVAC engineers and building science experts in every aspect of our design process, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to design better homes.
Our founders have been working together solely on residential green design and construction projects for more than five years. During that time together they have designed and constructed (with their own hands) a national award-winning off-grid home, designed solar-powered green homes ranging in size from 700 to 7,000 square feet, conducted residential energy modeling for Fortune 500 companies, and consulted to heads of state on various foreign energy policies.
This passion for green design and positive societal change has been passed down to each member of our staff, and can been seen it is evident in our work and designs plans. We look forward to sharing our enthusiasm with you and helping you create the green home that’s right for you.
FreeGreen is currently lead by Dave Wax, chief executive officer and Ben Uyeda design director. The strength of this team is in the diversity of their academic and professional backgrounds. Dave brings an MBA along with finance and business consulting experience. Ben with Master of Architecture from Cornell University leads the FreeGreen design team. The common ground and motivating force behind FreeGreen is the desire to create a stronger and more profitable connection between the mainstream housing market and the architectural community, resulting in a more progressive and diverse built environment.
David Wax, Chief Executive Officer
David Wax began his career working in the Energy Practice at Deloitte Consulting. Post his six year tenure at Deloitte, Dave attended, and received his MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell University. While getting his MBA Dave helped manage and raise all necessary funds for the 2005 Cornell Solar Decathlon Team. After graduation, Dave quickly turned his Solar Decathlon network and passion for the green housing industry into a residential Architecture and Engineering Firm named ZeroEnergy Design (ZED). Dave and his co-founders furiously grew this business, and turned their first profits in 2006. Today, ZED is a leading green design and engineering firm which has worked on over 60 projects, both in the United States and abroad. In 2008, with help from his ZED co-founders, Dave spun out what is now FreeGreen.
Ben Uyeda, Design Director
After Graduating from Cornell University with a Master of Architecture Degree in 2005 Ben co-founded Zero Energy Design (ZED). As a design principle Ben focused on sustainable housing projects both in the US and abroad. Ben’s interest in designing sustainable housing for developing nations has taken him to a multitude of countries including Nigeria, Dominica, and Panama. In 2006 Ben was asked to speak before the prime minister of Dominica about the possibility of using environmentally sensitive building practices to revitalize the local economy.
Ben has received an award from AutoDesk for ZED’s professional commitment to sustainability through the design of the built environment. His work has appeared in notable publications such as Architectural Record, Popular Mechanics, and Solar Today. Ben has also made television appearances on HGTV.
Ben has taught in the architecture departments of both Cornell University and Northeastern University. During his time as a visiting lecturer at Cornell, Ben developed an original curriculum for teaching architecture students how to critically evaluate sustainable design strategies.
Ben has worked to address social issues such as homelessness and environmental sustainability by integrating fundraising and coalition building techniques into architectural processes. Never one to shy away from danger Ben dedicated a period of time to living on the streets of Brooklyn documenting various aspects of the homeless condition. This endeavor is part of an ongoing campaign to address some of the deficiencies of permanent shelters. His experiences also inspired the 2008 documentary film, A Hole in a Fence.
DESIGN REVIEW BOARD:
FreeGreen has assembled a team of licensed and accredited professionals to review its designs. The unique nature of our business model allows an attention to detail previously only available to large budget projects. The FreeGreen Design Review Board represents experienced industry professionals from the fields of, architecture, engineering, and building science.
Why FreeGreen Is Good For Architects
Point 1: In 2006, 400K to 600K homes were built using stock house plans. This represented somewhere around 33% of all builds. Although the macro numbers are lower today the percentages are the same. Since the end of WWII custom architects have never been involved in more than 5% of all housing starts. FreeGreen wanted to make a positive impact (in our case energy efficiency and green) on as many houses as possible. We looked at the house plan market and saw an opportunity for us and Architects around the world to effect 100,000’s of house starts with very little start-up capital.
Point 2: As of January, 2009, the average new home costs about $190K right now so at a 5% to 8% commission (for custom Architects) this means Architects get about $12K per house design. All Architects know how long good design (meaning thinking about site, client needs, neighborhood, historical issues, etc.) takes. This makes this $12K per house design business model very tough. This is why custom architects have shifted to customers with high value (expensive) projects. It is natural and fine, but it leaves a hole. This hole needs to be filled by something, which post WWII became stock plans. If FreeGreen can use our business model to make these stock plans better then we have been successful. Bottom line, FreeGreen is not competing against custom Architects; we are filling a hole that they just can’t serve in their current form.
Point 3: In our Open Source program (going live in January) designers and Architects will be able to post their own green designs to the Open Source section of our website. Our staff will review these designs using various green standards (LEED, Energy Star, NAHB) and our own knowledge to make sure that they meet a certainly standards and levels of quality. Architects can name their own price for their designs, and change it at anytime. They will control all of the text, images, and CD’s associated with the design. Most importantly they will be able to upload their own profile which will be associated with their design as the designer \ Architect not, the specific design is always be the focus. All customizations will come to the designer not FreeGreen. FreeGreen will pay for, and manage all printing and fulfillment.
We believe that Open Source is a great way for Architects and designers to make extra money, gain valuable customizations, and even new commissions and notoriety. We are here to promote green design and green designers. We are not here to ruin the future of Architecture.