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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.

ARP Vendor Service Contract for All-Electric, Affordable Net-Zero Energy Homes Project

The City of Milwaukee issued a Request for Proposals for All-Electric, Affordable Net-Zero Energy Homes for qualified teams to design and build net-zero energy homes using Advanced Building Construction (ABC) methods, such as modular or panelized construction. In addition to building model homes that will be sold to the public (one single family and one duplex), the project aims to also attract an ABC manufacturer to the City of Milwaukee. 

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

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