This house does it all, yet, it occupies a very small footprint. The Ecological Living Module (ELM) is built for a family of four as an affordable solution for the more than one billion people around the world without access to secure, comfortable, affordable housing.

In its pursuit to bring housing to people in places that are hard to reach and have very limited resources, ELM also is self-sustainable. It is built from locally sourced, bio-based renewable materials and operates on solar energy and on-site water collection, where potable water can be captured from air humidity. Which, again, makes the ongoing management and performance more affordable and limits the overuse of natural resources.

The house takes a mere four weeks to manufacture and only two days to install after it is delivered to the site by a truck.

The ELM was the result of a collaboration between United Nations Environment, United Nations Habitat, the Yale University school of architecture, the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture, and Gray Organschi Architecture.

Lisa Gray, partner at Gray Organschi Architects, has focused her career on altruistic design that gives back to the community in many ways. Her designs express the cultural and social ambitions of the community as well. She also is the founder and principal designer of Gray Design, an interior design serving residential projects and public institutions.

In this podcast, Gray speaks with HIVE RE:think podcast host Philip Beere on the catalyst for the ELM project, the success and the future direction.

It’s not hard to see why the project was selected as one of the HIVE Top 50 Innovations in housing. The focus on renewable energy means that it is equipped with the ability to capture enough solar energy to meet the needs of four occupants. A focus on health and well-being, which can be a lower priority in some parts of the world, means a purification system that improves the indoor air quality and increases the microbiome diversity within the home. In addition, a micro-farming wall provides better access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

United Nations Environment and United Nations Habitat

The overall performance of the home can be monitored via a sensor network and data display. But, it’s not just the home’s performance that can be measured. This project also has a reduced carbon footprint, making it a much more thoughtful solution to the huge global affordable housing crisis at a time when extreme weather events are threatening many places where housing is in need.

The group predicts that the ELM home could be produced at scale for about $50,000. It also is already thinking about the next evolution of the design and wants to develop the concept into an adaptive design that can flex to site-specific needs through both its architectural design and its environmental systems.

The ELM and other HIVE Top 50 Innovations will be celebrated at the HIVE conference, scheduled December 4 and 5 in Austin, TX. Register now to meet with these and other leaders in housing innovation.