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Let Modular Construction be Your Gateway to a Zero Energy Ready Home

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In today’s new homes there are often many missed opportunities to leverage advanced technology for superior energy efficiency and home performance. Modular construction helps leverage opportunities during the off-site home construction process that aren’t available to homes that are traditionally built onsite. This can be attributed to many factors. Some of which include: building a home from the inside out (meaning sheathing goes on last), no rain and/or moisture getting into the home during construction, and the overall quality assurance environment that is fostered when building indoors in a controlled environment. Let’s review the seven important areas of a Zero Energy Ready (ZER) home.

The High-Performance Thermal Envelope

The roof, walls, windows, doors, and foundation combine to form your home’s enclosure. During the construction of your home, there is one chance to get it right before it’s locked in for the rest of your home’s life. ZER homes use guidelines from the Department of Energy (DOE). That’s why your ZER home is built using leading expert recommendations for advanced thermal protection that provide significant utility bill savings along with enhanced comfort and durability.

Areas covered include:

High Performance Windows – These windows used advanced technology to keep out heat in the summer and keep it in during the winter. However, they promote natural light into the living space year round. 

High-Performance Insulation – Insulation provides a tight thermal blanket to keep your home warm and quiet.

Draft Protection – The thermal envelope not only protects from air movement but also blocks dust, pollen, noise, and moisture.

Whole House Water Protection

Damage from weather and moisture is one of the homeowner’s biggest concerns. Since there is one shot at getting critical details right during construction. Using modular construction is a big first step in the right direction. Moisture entering a home during construction can become trapped. This moisture then turns up in the form of mold and mildew. Proper installation of windows, doors, and roofing. Making the home dry by design is a critical first step in protecting a home from water. The often missed second part of the equation is interior moisture control. Protecting the home from leaks, and interior moisture build up through proper ventilation and drains.  

RELATED: Building Science for Dummies

High Performance Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

In a ZER home, comfort is about more than just a set-point thermostat and a builder grade system. A ZER home is about the comfort that comes from even temperatures and moisture control between rooms and on each floor. The key is to be able to be comfortable in and enjoy your home year-round.

Important items include employing advanced technology components and controls to delivery of lower heating and cooling bills. Make sure to locate heating and cooling ducts inside the thermal envelope as opposed to the typical attic or crawlspace installation. Keeping them inside means higher comfort and lower energy bills.

High Efficiency Components

Once you take care of creating a tight thermal enclosure and a super-efficient heating and cooling system, the next place to look for energy performance improvements is with the components inside your home. These include:

Whole House Health (Air Quality)

You typically spend more time in your home than outside your home. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that indoor air has 2 to 5 times more contaminates than outdoor air! The first step in getting indoor air quality under control in new homes is by selecting the right materials from the beginning. 

Maintaining air quality is done using fresh air systems. Be sure to check and replace filters regularly. Use high capture filtration technology to ensure the best indoor air quality. In addition, make sure adequate ventilation is in place. Trapped moisture in addition to contaminates needs to be removed from your home.

Solar Ready Construction

Every ZER home is so energy efficient it can offset all or most annual energy consumption with renewable energy. That’s why homes without solar are typically built so a solar electric system can be easily added whenever you are ready.

Using modular construction, prepping a home for solar is relatively straight forward. During the design of the home, the conduits can be located so solar panel wiring can easily be connected to the home electric panel box. While the home is being engineered the load bearing capacity for the solar panels on the roof can be calculated and any additional strengthening of roofing members can be done in preparation for the future solar. Planning can also be done at this time to ensure space is available around the electric panel to mount and connect any required solar components.

Modular and ZER Brings Added Peace-of-Mind

With modular construction, you know your home is built using a level of efficiency that only factory construction can provide. When you add in the requirements and process for implementing a Zero Energy Ready home the combination becomes unbeatable. Everything you buy today is built in a quality controlled factory. When you add in Zero Energy Ready that means your home is certified to three different programs: DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, Energy Star Certified Home, and EPA Indoor airPLUS. These programs are inspected by independent raters. And when it comes time to sell your home, you can rest assured that ZER homes are worth more.

About the Author
Ken Semler

Ken Semler

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Hi, I am Ken Semler the founder of Impresa Modular. I am passionate about our company and the homes that we provide. Modern modular construction enables us to deliver healthy, safe, and energy-efficient living spaces. Impresa Modular is a licensed/registered/certified builder/contractor in almost every state. I believe that modular homes provide the best way to deliver virtually unlimited design flexibility at the greatest value.

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