When we last caught up with ZETA (Zero Energy Technology and Architecture) Communities, the prefab green building startup was putting the final touches on a net-zero modular demonstration home in Oakland, California. Now the home is complete, and ZETA has moved on to bigger things–literally. The company announced on Friday the inauguration of a Sacramento-based 91,000 square foot net zero energy factory, dubbed “z-Fab”.
Z-Fab is actually a defunct modular home factory repurposed by ZETA into a net zero housing production facility. Sacramento has had a wave of housing manufacturing plants close in the past four months, and ZETA plans to hire many of the laid-off workers and train them in the art of green home building. “We see this as a symbolic reemergence of the green economy,” explained Naomi Porat, ZETA’s CEO.
ZETA already has a number of projects in the pipeline that will benefit from the production facility, including apartments, senior housing, student housing, and an environmental stewardship center for the Presidio Trust. Pre-fab construction will probably save project developers cash, but Porat points out that time saved is the key advantage. The entire production process for an upcoming ZETA-constructed 30 unit student housing in Berkeley, for example, will take three months. On-site building will take just two to three weeks. Utility cost savings go without saying–ZETA homes use 40-60% less overall energy than traditional homes. And with California set to require all new housing to be net-zero by 2020, ZETA is all but guaranteed to see continued demand for its buildings.
The z-Fab factory is expected to pump out 300 units per year. ZETA’s current customers all all in California, but the company hopes to expand elsewhere soon. “The timing for ZETA is opportune because the housing market crashed and developers are open to new ways to build,” Porat said. “Years ago it would be difficult to get their attention. But the only time people are open to change is in a recession.”