Early in the project, the team determined that we would use prefabricated construction methods to build as much of the home as possible off site. Prefabrication allowed the team to understand, optimize, and implement key features in the building envelope that would be costly using stick construction, but which were crucial for achieving the net-zero performance goals of the house. These features include continuous insulation and a panelized construction that allows joints to be completely sealed after assembly, creating an extremely well-insulated and leak-free exterior for the house.

The team panelized the walls and the roof of the house, meaning that sections were built in units that will be tied together in the field during assembly. The studio used a comprehensive computer model of the house to design and manage the prefabrication process, and then built the panels at APDesign’s off-campus fabrication facility. By the end of the summer of 2019, the studio completed the house’s 24 wall panels and 26 roof panels, along with modular plywood casework that will function throughout the interior of the home.

The home’s insulation and construction methods will allow it to use less than 1/5 of the energy used in a typical new home. While the home’s energy footprint is small, the home has much more to offer than a typical home, with daylight throughout the house, vaulted ceilings, and durable interior materials that will include recycled porcelain countertops and high-quality wood products. The energy-efficient heating and cooling system will deliver constant, filtered fresh air to maintain indoor air quality and health. Photovoltaic panels on the roof will produce an estimated $0.40 surplus for every $1 of energy used. In summary, the house is not just about lifting a burden on household budgets: it’s about creating a home environment that is healthier and more livable.

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