Restore Neighborhoods Los Angeles (RNLA) is a nonprofit organization that invests in housing for the underprivileged families of Los Angeles. In 2011, they sent out a request, challenging architects to create affordable and sustainable designs intended for lots located in the city’s South Central area, one of the most crime ridden parts of the city. In the end, they selected a net-zero, prefab design submitted by Habitat for Humanity and Minarc, a Santa Monica–based architecture firm known for its innovative, energy-efficient kit houses. A net-zero house or building is a building with zero net energy consumption and zero annual carbon emissions, meaning the energy use of these homes is completely offset by the energy produced via solar panels and other energy-creating methods.

John Perfitt, executive director of RNLA explained that they “very much want to introduce new design ideas and new technologies to low and moderate-income districts. We think that good design and new construction methods can, over time, have a very positive influence on restoring neighborhoods.” The houses, which cost as little as $150 per square foot to produce could lead to a re-evaluation of how all the homes in the LA region—which is heavily affected by smog—are built and maintained. Learn more about the project on

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Category: Architecture