Lead Performer: VEIC – Chittenden County, VT
-- Solar Home Factory – Geneva, NY
-- Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge, LA
-- National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Golden, CO
DOE Total Funding: $845,498
Cost Share: $271,007
Project Term: July 2020 – July 2023
Funding Type: Advanced Building Construction FOA Award

Project Objective

There is an acute national need for affordable housing, in rural and urban areas alike. Zero-energy modular (ZEM) homes are emerging as a new housing option; they are quick to build and affordable to occupy. ZEMs combine the benefits of no to low monthly energy bills with the cost efficiencies of off-site modular construction. All-electric and highly efficient, ZEM homes are often outfitted with rooftop solar arrays and use about as much energy as they produce each year. This project will create a ZEM multifamily construction system, including designs for a ZEM factory and ZEM multifamily units. The units’ design will meet DOE’s stretch goal of 50 percent more efficient than code at no additional first cost. The project will also create a ZEM workforce training module. A strong dissemination strategy for all of the deliverables (collectively, a blueprint) will spur growth of a national ZEM market and drive market demand. 

The project has four main tasks:

  1. Creation of ZEM Evaluation Protocols: Protocols to evaluate the construction system during design, through construction and operation, post-occupancy.
  2. Creation of the Construction System: Creation of an integrated system that will optimize the multifamily building design, maximize efficiency of construction, be cost-competitive, and offer high levels of energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and unit quality.
  3. Quality Management System Workforce Development Curriculum: Design of a ZEM factory quality management system (QMS) and workforce training manual. Local technical programs will incorporate these materials into their current curricula.
  4. Dissemination: Compilation of the evaluation protocols, construction system plans, and QMS training materials into an open-source package (the blueprint).

Project Impact

This project supports BTO's objectives for significantly reducing energy consumption and costs of new construction, and to holistically address the current shortcomings of the U.S. construction industry. This project will also offer a hub to transition BTO-sponsored high-performance technologies from the laboratory to the construction industry.


DOE Technology Manager: Cedar Blazek, Cedar.Blazek@ee.doe.gov  
Lead Performer: Alison Donovan, VEIC