Clayton Homes may be able to rule the cheap, energy-efficient single-family home market with the i-house, but ZETA (Zero Energy Technology and Architecture) Communities is angling to dominate the affordable, energy-efficient multi-family home market. The San Francisco-based building design start-up is opening its first prefabricated “net-zero” demonstration house in Oakland, California, in the next two weeks. The house will be designated as net-zero due to its ability to produce as much energy as it consumes.
According to ZETA, the demonstration home features a passive solar design, energy-efficient windows, super-strong insulation, and a control system that manages on-site energy usage. As a result, the building produces an energy load that’s only 60% of what a standard similarly-sized home would use. ZETA’s home saves on construction costs, too–it’s cheaper and twice as fast to build the multi-family house in a factory than to build it on-site. A factory-built ZETA home also generates half the waste of an on-site home.
Instead of selling directly to home buyers, ZETA will market itself to architects and developers by taking existing building plans and figuring out how to build them in modular pieces. ZETA-designed buildings will, for example, always use a single “utility core” for heating and cooling pipes as well as an in-home controller to manage energy systems. Despite these common features, ZETA claims that it can construct buildings in a variety of styles, ranging from European and American traditional to modern.
Even though its demonstration home has yet to be completed, ZETA is in high demand. The company has a number of projects in its pipeline, including a 30-unit student apartment.