• Refine Search

  • All Results

Factory constructed homes

Residential Net-Zero Energy Construction

Housing is a critical piece of Milwaukee’s infrastructure, with impacts on our economy, environmental sustainability, human health, and quality of life. The Environmental Collaboration Office, in collaboration with other City housing agencies, aims to develop a new model for efficiently and affordably producing new net-zero energy homes in the City of Milwaukee as a part of the forthcoming Climate and Equity Plan.

This planning effort aims to address multiple public policy issues:

  • Climate change
  • Housing affordability
  • Human health and safety
  • Racial equity
  • Housing aesthetics
  • Flood resilience
  • Neighborhood revitalization
  • Job creation

Zero energy homes will be a significant contributor to reducing overall carbon in the Milwaukee, and a key strategy in meeting climate action targets.

Federal Resource: Zero Energy Home Program

The U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Homes (ZERH) program builds from U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR® standard. ECO encourages these higher standards for new home construction. EPA’s ENERGY STAR® program also provides excellent informational resources and is the trusted certification for appliances, HVAC systems, and more. A Zero Energy Ready Home is a high-performance home that is so energy efficient that a renewable energy system could offset most or all of the home’s annual energy use. 

Open AllClose All
  Available Tax Credits

Table of credits


Zero Energy Ready Homes requires rigorous technical specifications, including high-efficiency insulation, ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances, LED lighting, advanced HVAC systems, Indoor airPLUS (IAP) Certification to minimize indoor air pollutants, and to be ready for solar, electric vehicle charging, and heat-pumps.

Read the Resource Flyer

  Mandatory Requirements


Component Mandatory Requirements  Resources/Further Guidance
ZEHR V2 (Rev. 1) National Rater Checklist 1.1  Rater completes the DOE ZERH Single Family Homes Version 2 (Rev. 1) National Rater Checklist. National Rater Checklist Version 2 (Rev. 1).
ENERGY STAR© Single Family New Home Baseline 2.1 Certified under ENERGY STAR© Single Family New Homes Version 3.2. DOE ZERH are also ENERGY STAR© homes. The approved third-party rater will also conduct a review for ENERGY STAR© certification.
Envelope 3.1 Ceiling, wall, floor and slab insulation meets or exceeds 2021 IECC UA; 3.2 Windows meet high performance requirements based on climate zone. Exterior insulation improvements to IECC 2021 standards require the use of continuous exterior wall insulation and ENERGY STAR©-rated windows among other components.
Duct System 4.1 All heating and cooling distribution ducts and heating and cooling air-handling equipment are located within the thermal and air barrier boundary. All heating and cooling ducts and air handeling equipment must be within the building insulated envelope.
Water Heating Efficiency 5.1 Hot water delivery systems meet efficient design requirements; OR 5.2 Water heater and fixtures meet efficiency criteria; OR 5.3 Home is certified under WaterSense Labeled Homes Version 2.0. Hot water systems need to meet specific efficiency and design requirements. Installed fixtures must also meet Water Sense criteria.
Lighting & Appliances 6.1 All builder-supplied and -installed refridgerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and clothes dryers are ENERGY STAR© certified; 6.2 100% of builder-installed lighting fixtures and lamps (bulbs) provided are LEDs; 6.3 All installed bathroom ventilation fans are ENERGY STAR©-certified.

Major appliances and bathroom ventilation fans must all be ENERGY STAR©-certified.

All lighting systmes must be high efficiency LEDs.

Indoor Air Quality 7.1 Certified under EPA Indoor airPLUS; 7.2 Energy efficient balanced ventilation (HRV or ERV) is provided in Climate Zones 6-8. EPA Indoor airPLUS is an additional set of criteria to improve air quality through the use of best practice construction methods and ventilation systems, including low VOC materials, ducted kitchen exhaust, and ASHRAE 62.2 ventilation rates.
Renewable Ready 8.1 Provisions of the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Single Family Homes Version 2 (Rev. 1) PV-Redy Checklist completed. Being ready for future Solar PV is required. Projects must follow the checklist. PV-Ready Checklist Version 2 (Rev. 1).
Electric Vehicle Ready 9.1 One parking space is provided per dwelling unit that includes a powered 208/240V, 30A receptacle installed in the dwelling unit's private driveway. The electric service panel identifies the branch circuit as "Electric Vehicle Charging." Homes must be ready to provide electric vehicle charging.
Heat Pump Water Heater Ready 10.1 Individual branch circuit outlet is installed, energized, and terminates within 3 feet of each insalled fossil fuel water heater; 10.2 A space is located within the home or garage that is at least 3' x 3' wide and 7' high surrounding or within 3 feet of the installed fossil fuel water heater to faciliate future heat pump water heater installation. While all electric operation is not required, homes need to be ready for future installation of heat pump equipment that includes the following: 1. Having a dedicated outlet installed, 2. Designing a space in the home or garage that will faciliate future heat pump water heater installation.
Heat Pump Space Heater Ready 11.1 Individual branch circuit outlet or conduit is installed to facilitate future wiring for a heat pump installation. Circuit or conduit is labeled as "For future heat pump." Homes need to be prepared for future heat pump space heating by having a dedicated outlet installed.

City Housing Strategy

  • Financing
  • Energy Performance
  • Building Process
  • Affordability
  • Job Creation

City of Milwaukee Net-Zero Energy Home Financing Plan Cover

Read the City of Milwaukee's Net-Zero Energy Home Financing Plan funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Zero Energy Home design to reduce energy use by more than 50% and produce the remaining energy demand with clean energy sources

The minimum energy performance goals for Net-Zero Energy Homes will be Zero Energy Ready per the Department of Energy's Zero Energy Ready Home 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.

Homes built offsite in a factory setting


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.

Design Concept of Offsite Constructed Home

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

Workers creating housing in a factory


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.

Read the Preliminary Modular Housing Workforce Training Strategy

Learn about Milwaukee's Economic Development Profile for Locating Factory Operations

This site is powered by the Northwoods Titan Content Management System