Net-zero homes are cost-efficient for homeowners by limiting energy consumption and thus, cutting energy bills, but they’ve traditionally been costly to build. Luckily, prefab startup Vantem seeks to change that by building prefabricated modular units with a proprietary design that sandwiches an insulating layer between two structural boards. Once a solar panel is added, the weather resistant units also become net zero, Fast Company reports.
The company recently received a Series A round of investment from the Bill Gates-founded firm Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which it will use to build 15 factories across the U.S. over the next seven years. According to Vantem CEO Chris Anderson, the buildings are roughly 50% faster to build than standard construction and around 20% less expensive, but are 30% less expensive compared to traditional net-zero construction.
“You can think of it kind of like an automotive production line where these units are moving down this production line, and different elements are being put in,” [Anderson] says. “The bathroom, the floor, the walls are being painted, the roofs are being put on. By the time it hits the end of the production line, it’s completely finished with the electrical and everything. Essentially, 80% of the job of what you would typically do on the job site is complete by the time that unit leaves the factory door.”
At the site, workers take care of remaining steps, like pouring the foundation or, in the case of an apartment building, attaching the modular units together.