Mighty Buildings, a leader in 3D printing construction technology, announced that they, along with their partners have been awarded a $5 million GFO-22-305 grant from the California Energy Commission to develop the greenest affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mighty Buildings’ partners include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Habitat for Humanity.
The funding will help the partners develop, test, and demonstrate zero-carbon or near-zero-carbon, cost-effective modular and manufactured homes that can be easily deployed, especially in underserved communities.
Greenest Affordable Housing
The companies plan to build three advanced prefabricated low-carbon townhouses in Bay Point, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area, for low-income families (80% AMI or less) through partner Habitat for Humanity. Mighty Buildings will construct the homes’ walls at its Oakland factory using its innovative 3D printing technology, and construction assembly is expected to be completed within a few days at the site location.
The research for the project aims to drive long-term value in affordability, sustainability, resilience, and construction speed through new features that can positively transform the industry, such as:
- A “cool room” concept: The homes will each feature a high-efficiency, mini-split heat pump system, which will be powered by solar PV and a small battery, in conjunction with a highly efficient envelope design and equipment. The “cool rooms” will reduce peak loads by switching to low-power operation during times of high grid stress, as well as shifting peak loads from a concentrated single peak period in the evening to multiple scattered peak periods throughout the day. The goal will be to provide greater resilience during events such as power outages and extreme temperature events, while also generating more consistent billing cycles and a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) over a 10-year period.
- Advanced 3D printing manufacturing techniques: The project aims to introduce new offsite 3D printing manufacturing methods, as well as a new energy-efficient panel, with the highest level of offsite completion in the industry.
- On-site structural/waterproofing test kits: advanced testing equipment will be introduced to the manufacturing site, allowing innovation and certification cycle times to be shortened.
- Energy and general manufacturing cost model: LBNL intends to develop a first-of-its-kind model based on Mighty Buildings manufacturing inputs that could be applied more broadly to future projects utilising prefab, modular, and panelized industry solutions;
- Training programme: Habitat for Humanity will create an in-person and digital training programme in collaboration with Mighty Buildings to upskill labour and teach the basics of panelized prefab construction.
- Reduced 10-year Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): The homes will aim for a 25% cost reduction over a ten-year period based on their zero-carbon and near-zero-carbon footprints, paving the way for more affordable and resilient modular homeownership from underserved communities. When applied to larger projects, the partners anticipate that these savings will increase to as much as 35%.
“We are thrilled to embark on this ground-breaking project. Our collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Habitat for Humanity reflects our commitment to innovation, sustainability, and our community. The support provided by this grant goes beyond building three town-homes; it’s actively shaping the future of construction in California. We envision a future where affordable, resilient, and energy-efficient homes are the standard, not an exception.”– Scott Gebicke, CEO of Mighty Buildings
The homes are expected to be built much faster than traditional construction methods. The shorter build time and associated interest savings are expected to allow developers to build up to 20-30% more housing units. Total utility savings for home operations are estimated to be up to 40%, with even greater savings expected for larger multi-family units due to scale. The partners intend to continue developing their strategy and adding new partners until 2024, with production beginning later that year.
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