The minimum energy performance goals for Net-Zero Energy Homes will be Zero Energy Ready per the Department of Energy's Zero Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Homes (ZERH) program, with the goal of a Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) certification on the factory and designs.
Energy usage will be significantly reduced (by >60%) so that the home is ready for installation of clean energy production for remaining energy demand.
If the budget, orientation, and financing is available for clean energy production, such as onsite solar, it will be included. The result will be net zero energy use over the course of a year.
Offsite construction is an alternative solution that can help Milwaukee meet a large demand for affordable housing.
Net-zero energy housing can be built indoors in a factory-like setting. The finished products are then covered and transported to new locations where a builder assembles them. These homes are not mobile homes, but rather a home that is built off-site.
Because the home can be built indoors, it can be completed in a matter of weeks as opposed to months. These homes also do not experience the typical on-site delays caused predominantly by the weather conditions.
Off-site, zero-energy buildings offer greater housing opportunities for low-income families by lowering both the cost of construction and holding costs for developers due to faster pace of construction.
One of the challenges that the City of Milwaukee faces when it comes to affordable housing is that traditional construction costs are too high for development in the city and difficult to finance. Because the the offsite housing building process leads to rapid development, high construction costs do not need to be factored in.
Rapid deployment of affordable housing will increase the availability of equitable housing in Milwaukee relative to the current backlog in demand. In addition, zero-energy designs will decrease the energy cost burden for families.
Photo credit: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee - Designer Dongmin Yun
Another key component of the net-zero energy housing strategy is to create job opportunities for people of color who have been shut out of the job market.
Since houses will be built in factories instead of on-site, development occurs year round. Without weather as an inhibiting factor, workers have the opportunity to continue building throughout the year.