Machine Design

Zeta Communities build prefabricated “green” homes that generate as much energy as they use.

Engineers and developers at Zeta Communities in San Francisco (www.zetacommunities.com), are building prefabricated two and four-story townhouses and condominiums that feature extra-thick windows, denser insulation, and a host of other energy-saving features, as well as solar panels to generate electricity. They claim a single unit generates as much energy as its occupants will use, making it a “zero-energy” home. And building modular homes in a factory lets the company streamline construction, control quality, avoid weather delays, and reduce waste by 30%. But the cost, energy, and carbon footprint involved with shipping the prefab structures from the firm’s plant near San Francisco takes a bit of the green off the housing units. (A developer can buy a two-bedroom townhouse, including shipping, installation, mechanical systems, and appliances, for about $258,000, according to the company.) The homes meet California building codes and efficiency standards.

Edited by Stephen J. Mraz

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