Mighty Buildings and partners led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) have been awarded a $5 million GFO-22-305 grant from the California Energy Commission to develop, test, and demonstrate zero-carbon or near-zero-carbon, cost-effective, modular and manufactured homes that can be readily deployed, particularly in under-resourced communities.
The companies intend to develop three advanced prefabricated low-carbon townhouses in Bay Point, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area, which will benefit low-income families (80% AMI or less) via partner Habitat for Humanity. Mighty Buildings will construct the homes’ walls using its innovative 3D printing technology at its Oakland factory, and construction assembly is expected to be completed within a few days at the site location. The project’s research aims to drive long-term value in affordability, sustainability, resilience, and speed of construction via new features that can positively transform the industry, including:
- A “cool room” concept: Utilizing solar PV paired with a small battery, in tandem with a highly efficient envelope design and equipment, the homes will each feature a high-efficiency, mini-split heat pump system. The “cool rooms” will reduce peak loads by shifting to low-power operation during times of acute grid stress and by shifting the peak load from a concentrated single peak period in the evening to multiple scattered peak periods throughout the day. The goal will be to provide greater resilience through events like power outages and extreme temperature events while generating more consistent billing cycles and a 10-year lower total cost of ownership (TCO);
- Advanced 3D printing manufacturing techniques: The project aims to introduce new methods of offsite 3D printing manufacturing, as well as a new energy-efficient panel, which are expected to have the highest level of offsite completion in the industry;
- Onsite structural/waterproofing test kits: advanced testing equipment will be introduced to the manufacturing site, serving to accelerate innovation and certification cycle times;
- Energy and general manufacturing cost model: LBNL plans to develop a first-of-its-kind model based on Mighty Buildings manufacturing inputs that could be applied more broadly toward future projects utilizing prefab, modular and panelized industry solutions;
- Training program: In collaboration with Mighty Buildings, Habitat for Humanity will create an in-person and digital training program to upskill labor and teach the basics of panelized prefab construction;
- Reduced 10-year Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): The homes will target a 25% reduction in costs against a similarly sized home based on their zero-carbon and near zero-carbon footprints over a ten-year period, helping to pave a path for more affordable and resilient modular homeownership from underserved communities. The partners anticipate that these savings will grow to as much as 35% when scaled on larger projects.
“We are thrilled to embark on this groundbreaking project. Our collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Habitat for Humanity reflects our commitment to innovation, sustainability, and our community,” said Scott Gebicke, CEO of Mighty Buildings. “The support provided by this grant goes beyond building three townhomes; it’s actively shaping the future of construction in California. We envision a future where affordable, resilient, and energy-efficient homes are the standard, not an exception.”
The homes are expected to be built much more quickly than traditional construction. For developers, the shorter build time and the associated interest savings are estimated to enable construction by as much as 20-30% more housing units. For home operations, the total utility savings is estimated to be as much as 40%, with even greater savings expected for larger multi-family units due to scale. The partners plan to continue to develop their strategy and addition of new partners through 2024 with production slated for later that year.
To learn more about Mighty Buildings and track updates on this project, visit www.mightybuildings.com.