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Modular Homes

Modular Homes

  • EcoClassic Homes. A New World Home master licensee, the company offers energy-efficient, sustainable homes integrating traditional and regionally inspired design with green products. It provides a variety of LEED-certifiable housing options for detached single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes, and multifamily options. It is also designing a line of live/work homes with commercial space on the ground floor and residential space above. The company claims it can produce a move-in ready home in about 100 days. 855.602.8898. www.ecoclassichomes.com.

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    EcoClassic Homes. A New World Home master licensee, the company offers energy-efficient, sustainable homes integrating traditional and regionally inspired design with green products. It provides a variety of LEED-certifiable housing options for detached single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes, and multifamily options. It is also designing a line of live/work homes with commercial space on the ground floor and residential space above. The company claims it can produce a move-in ready home in about 100 days. 855.602.8898. www.ecoclassichomes.com.

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    EcoClassic Homes. A New World Home master licensee, the company offers energy-efficient, sustainable homes integrating traditional and regionally inspired design with green products. It provides a variety of LEED-certifiable housing options for detached single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes, and multifamily options. It is also designing a line of live/work homes with commercial space on the ground floor and residential space above. The company claims it can produce a move-in ready home in about 100 days. 855.602.8898. www.ecoclassichomes.com.

  • LivingHomes. The company just launched its C6 LEED-Platinum line of affordable homes in Long Beach, Calif., designed in collaboration with the Make It Right Foundation. C6 homes combine what the company calls its Z6 Environmental Goals (for zero energy, water, emissions, carbon, waste, and ignorance) as well as Cradle-to-Cradle inspired materials. The three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,232-square-foot models start at $179,000, not including transportation and site, permit, and construction costs. 310.581.8500. www.livinghomes.net.

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    LivingHomes. The company just launched its C6 LEED-Platinum line of affordable homes in Long Beach, Calif., designed in collaboration with the Make It Right Foundation. C6 homes combine what the company calls its Z6 Environmental Goals (for zero energy, water, emissions, carbon, waste, and ignorance) as well as Cradle-to-Cradle inspired materials. The three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,232-square-foot models start at $179,000, not including transportation and site, permit, and construction costs. 310.581.8500. www.livinghomes.net.

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    LivingHomes. The company just launched its C6 LEED-Platinum line of affordable homes in Long Beach, Calif., designed in collaboration with the Make It Right Foundation. C6 homes combine what the company calls its Z6 Environmental Goals (for zero energy, water, emissions, carbon, waste, and ignorance) as well as Cradle-to-Cradle inspired materials. The three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,232-square-foot models start at $179,000, not including transportation and site, permit, and construction costs. 310.581.8500. www.livinghomes.net.

  • ZETA Communities. Tierra del Sols 1,268-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath, net-zero energy homes located in San Francisco come with photovoltaic energy; Energy Star appliances, lighting, and windows; low-flow plumbing; heat recovery whole-house ventilation; and nontoxic, recycled, and sustainable finishes. 415.946.4084. www.zetacommunities.com.

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    ZETA Communities. Tierra del Sols 1,268-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath, net-zero energy homes located in San Francisco come with photovoltaic energy; Energy Star appliances, lighting, and windows; low-flow plumbing; heat recovery whole-house ventilation; and nontoxic, recycled, and sustainable finishes. 415.946.4084. www.zetacommunities.com.

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    ZETA Communities. Tierra del Sol’s 1,268-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath, net-zero energy homes located in San Francisco come with photovoltaic energy; Energy Star appliances, lighting, and windows; low-flow plumbing; heat recovery whole-house ventilation; and nontoxic, recycled, and sustainable finishes. 415.946.4084. www.zetacommunities.com.

  • Epoch Corp. In 2011, this Pembroke, N.H., firm became the first modular plant certified Green Approved by the NAHB Research Center. All of its custom designs are ready to be certified at the Bronze level; however, most are certified at Silver, Gold, or Emerald. The company has also built a number of LEED-Platinum homes. 877.463.7624. www.epochhomes.com.

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    Epoch Corp. In 2011, this Pembroke, N.H., firm became the first modular plant certified Green Approved by the NAHB Research Center. All of its custom designs are ready to be certified at the Bronze level; however, most are certified at Silver, Gold, or Emerald. The company has also built a number of LEED-Platinum homes. 877.463.7624. www.epochhomes.com.

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    Epoch Corp. In 2011, this Pembroke, N.H., firm became the first modular plant certified Green Approved by the NAHB Research Center. All of its custom designs are ready to be certified at the Bronze level; however, most are certified at Silver, Gold, or Emerald. The company has also built a number of LEED-Platinum homes. 877.463.7624. www.epochhomes.com.

  • Simplex Homes. The company won the 2012 Jerry Rouleau Award for Excellence in Marketing and Home Design in the category of Green Modular Building, for its work on the net-zero Bancroft Green Luxury townhouse infill project in Center City, Pa. Features include staggered exterior walls with R-33 mineral wool insulation, R-42 in the ceilings, geothermal heating and cooling, heat recovery ventilators, dual-flush toilets, and low-flow fixtures. The bricks for the facades and stoops are reused from the building that was torn down prior to redevelopment, and the rubber rooftop and backyard pavers are recycled from old tires and manufactured locally. 800.233.4233. www.simplexhomes.com.

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    Simplex Homes. The company won the 2012 Jerry Rouleau Award for Excellence in Marketing and Home Design in the category of Green Modular Building, for its work on the net-zero Bancroft Green Luxury townhouse infill project in Center City, Pa. Features include staggered exterior walls with R-33 mineral wool insulation, R-42 in the ceilings, geothermal heating and cooling, heat recovery ventilators, dual-flush toilets, and low-flow fixtures. The bricks for the facades and stoops are reused from the building that was torn down prior to redevelopment, and the rubber rooftop and backyard pavers are recycled from old tires and manufactured locally. 800.233.4233. www.simplexhomes.com.

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    Simplex Homes. The company won the 2012 Jerry Rouleau Award for Excellence in Marketing and Home Design in the category of Green Modular Building, for its work on the net-zero Bancroft Green Luxury townhouse infill project in Center City, Pa. Features include staggered exterior walls with R-33 mineral wool insulation, R-42 in the ceilings, geothermal heating and cooling, heat recovery ventilators, dual-flush toilets, and low-flow fixtures. The bricks for the facades and stoops are reused from the building that was torn down prior to redevelopment, and the rubber rooftop and backyard pavers are recycled from old tires and manufactured locally. 800.233.4233. www.simplex homes.com.

  • Palm Harbor. This 1,720-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath HUD-Code home will redefine your concept of manufactured housing. Beyond the neo-traditional exterior that would fit in any neighborhood, this Energy Star home installed in a Florida retirement community features R-33 blown-in insulation in the ceilings, R-23 hybrid closed-cell foam (2 inches of foam with a R-11 batten) in 2x6 exterior walls, and R-11 in the floors. Other energy-saving features include a 14 SEER air conditioner with a Compu-Temp mastic-sealed duct system, reflective foil roof decking, and low-E insulated vinyl windows. 813.752.1368. www.palmharbor.net.

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    Palm Harbor. This 1,720-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath HUD-Code home will redefine your concept of manufactured housing. Beyond the neo-traditional exterior that would fit in any neighborhood, this Energy Star home installed in a Florida retirement community features R-33 blown-in insulation in the ceilings, R-23 hybrid closed-cell foam (2 inches of foam with a R-11 batten) in 2x6 exterior walls, and R-11 in the floors. Other energy-saving features include a 14 SEER air conditioner with a Compu-Temp mastic-sealed duct system, reflective foil roof decking, and low-E insulated vinyl windows. 813.752.1368. www.palmharbor.net.

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    Palm Harbor. This 1,720-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath HUD-Code home will redefine your concept of manufactured housing. Beyond the neo-traditional exterior that would fit in any neighborhood, this Energy Star home installed in a Florida retirement community features R-33 blown-in insulation in the ceilings, R-23 hybrid closed-cell foam (2 inches of foam with a R-11 batten) in 2x6 exterior walls, and R-11 in the floors. Other energy-saving features include a 14 SEER air conditioner with a Compu-Temp mastic-sealed duct system, reflective foil roof decking, and low-E insulated vinyl windows. 813.752.1368. www.palmharbor.net.

  • Method Homes. inHaus Developments Dave deBruyn chose the company for his net-zero White Rock project in Vancouver, British Columbia, because he admired the speed and efficiency of the modular process. The three-bedroom, four-bath homes are pending LEED-Platinum certification, featuring no- and low-VOC finishes; FSC-certified wenge cabinetry; a HEPA air filtration system; integrated air-exchange, air-to-air heat pump technology for heating, cooling, and hot water; hydronic in-floor heating; solar thermal hot water preheating; and optional solar energy. 206.789.5553. www.methodhomes.net.

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    Method Homes. inHaus Developments Dave deBruyn chose the company for his net-zero White Rock project in Vancouver, British Columbia, because he admired the speed and efficiency of the modular process. The three-bedroom, four-bath homes are pending LEED-Platinum certification, featuring no- and low-VOC finishes; FSC-certified wenge cabinetry; a HEPA air filtration system; integrated air-exchange, air-to-air heat pump technology for heating, cooling, and hot water; hydronic in-floor heating; solar thermal hot water preheating; and optional solar energy. 206.789.5553. www.methodhomes.net.

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    Method Homes. inHaus Development’s Dave deBruyn chose the company for his net-zero White Rock project in Vancouver, British Columbia, because he admired the speed and efficiency of the modular process. The three-bedroom, four-bath homes are pending LEED-Platinum certification, featuring no- and low-VOC finishes; FSC-certified wenge cabinetry; a HEPA air filtration system; integrated air-exchange, air-to-air heat pump technology for heating, cooling, and hot water; hydronic in-floor heating; solar thermal hot water preheating; and optional solar energy. 206.789.5553. www.methodhomes.net.

  • Keiser Homes. Designed by Kaplan Thompson, the firms Modular Zero line was inspired by a site-built Passive House home by Dan Kolbert Building & Renovations in Portland, Maine. Designed as a moderately priced, zero-energy home, it sells for about $200,000. The company will adapt the home to climate- and site-specific requirements to maximize passive solar heating and cooling. Energy features include super-insulated construction (R-40 walls and R-60 roof), optional photovoltaic solar panels, solar hot water, high-efficiency hydronic heating (heat pump), energy-efficient triple-glazed windows, and airtight construction. Water conservation features include low-flow showerheads and faucets, and indoor environmental features include low-VOC paint, adhesives, and sealants, and nontoxic interior finishes. Sustainability features include FSC-certified wood products, recycled-content resilient flooring, 50-year siding, and a 40-year recyclable metal roof. 888.333.1748. www.keisermaine.com.

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    Keiser Homes. Designed by Kaplan Thompson, the firms Modular Zero line was inspired by a site-built Passive House home by Dan Kolbert Building & Renovations in Portland, Maine. Designed as a moderately priced, zero-energy home, it sells for about $200,000. The company will adapt the home to climate- and site-specific requirements to maximize passive solar heating and cooling. Energy features include super-insulated construction (R-40 walls and R-60 roof), optional photovoltaic solar panels, solar hot water, high-efficiency hydronic heating (heat pump), energy-efficient triple-glazed windows, and airtight construction. Water conservation features include low-flow showerheads and faucets, and indoor environmental features include low-VOC paint, adhesives, and sealants, and nontoxic interior finishes. Sustainability features include FSC-certified wood products, recycled-content resilient flooring, 50-year siding, and a 40-year recyclable metal roof. 888.333.1748. www.keisermaine.com.

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    Keiser Homes. Designed by Kaplan Thompson, the firm’s Modular Zero line was inspired by a site-built Passive House home by Dan Kolbert Building & Renovations in Portland, Maine. Designed as a moderately priced, zero-energy home, it sells for about $200,000. The company will adapt the home to climate- and site-specific requirements to maximize passive solar heating and cooling. Energy features include super-insulated construction (R-40 walls and R-60 roof), optional photovoltaic solar panels, solar hot water, high-efficiency hydronic heating (heat pump), energy-efficient triple-glazed windows, and airtight construction. Water conservation features include low-flow showerheads and faucets, and indoor environmental features include low-VOC paint, adhesives, and sealants, and nontoxic interior finishes. Sustainability features include FSC-certified wood products, recycled-content resilient flooring, 50-year siding, and a 40-year recyclable metal roof. 888.333.1748. www.keisermaine.com.

Building Science and Certification

Energy Star offers manufactured and modular home builders a certification that allows them to certify their products as Energy Star Qualified, pending on-site air-seal testing when multiple sections are assembled to create a single structure. The CertifiedGreen Modular Home Program is administered by the Systems Building Research Alliance (SBRA), certifying modular homes that comply with the off-site construction portion of the NGBS; full certification is dependent on site development compliance and final on-site testing. The NAHB Research Center will verify a factory’s claim of building green under its Green Approved listing.

Modular homes have an initial certification advantage of 4 points in the LEED for Homes rating system (under MR 1.5 Off-site Fabrication), due to inherent manufacturing efficiencies, with added points for advanced framing and other elements easily incorporated into the factory building process, and points for recycling. Under NGBS, 13 points are awarded under Section 601.5 (4) Modular Construction for the portion of the building prefabricated and located above grade.

Most of the manufacturers we spoke to will certify to any national standard in response to client demand. Epoch Homes of Pembroke, N.H., offers customers a certification menu; the company’s Eco Collection comes pre-engineered to the NGBS Silver level, and clients desiring higher-level certification can customize by choosing upgrades from a certification checklist. Some manufacturers, such as Seattle-based Method Homes, build only to LEED standards, “Since all of our homes are sustainable, this is not an upgrade,” says co-founder Brian Abramson. San Francisco’s ZETA does not always certify but builds only net-zero homes, focusing on net-zero community developers as primary clients.

Price and Predictability

The architects and developers we spoke with cite a 10% to 15% price benefit with modular construction when specifying green finishes and high levels of energy efficiency. They also emphasized that the fixed costs and scheduling offered by factory home builders have become increasingly important in the current economic environment, where clients may not have the resources to pay for unexpected change orders and delays. “The biggest difference between the site-built and modular approach comes with cost control and speed. Our clients fear the uncertainty of conventional construction,” says Kaplan, while admitting one tradeoff he has found in working with modular construction is the inability to make design changes on the fly.

Some manufacturers, such as Clayton Homes, have focused on serving the affordable market for high performance with moderately priced models one income step up from the traditional HUD-Code home. Clayton’s i-house, which features a photovoltaic system, a highly insulated and tight shell, and Energy Star windows, doors, lighting, and appliances, comes with an all-costs-in base price under $150,000, or about $93 a square foot. Despite the low price, O’Connor says the modern-styled, high-performance i-house “was meant to attract a buyer that would have never walked into our showrooms before. They came in Volvos and Audis, and they walked away with a whole new concept of what a factory home represents,” says O’Connor. This challenges the concept that high efficiency comes only with high prices, and, bucking the new normal, all of the green factory home builders we spoke to reported record profits during the housing bust from 2008 through 2011.

Fernando Pagés Ruiz is an EcoHome contributing editor.