Mark Jacobson, a professor at Stanford University, California recently commissioned the Canadian firm Bone Structure to build him a prefab net-zero home. And the result is shaping up to be quite astounding. He chose the company because of their proven ability to minimize construction waste, dust and disruption to neighbors, as well as the flexibility and versatility of its steel frame construction method.
The home measures 3,200-sq ft (297-sq m), which is quite large for a net-zero home. The columns and beams needed for framing were precision laser cut at a factory before being transported to the build site and assembled. In this way they were able to make the most of the oddly shaped lot on which the home is built, and achieve an interior layout, which would simply not be possible using traditional construction methods.
Constructing the frame was done in only a few days by five workers using just battery-powered drills and a single type of self-tapping screw, which were used to attach the columns and beams. The next step was installing the electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems, which was made easier by the precut openings in the frame. Once this was achieved, precut insulation panels were clipped into place between the steel columns. Polyurethane foam insulation spray was used to seal the building and act as a vapor barrier. According to the company, a shell like this leaves practically no waste, is fully recyclable and creates a tight, energy-efficient building envelope.
The home is still being constructed, though it will be available to tour on June 24-26. Once completed, the home will be powered solely by electricity (i.e. no gas or other sources). They will install heat pumps for air and water heating, use an induction stove, and all the necessary power will be provided by rooftop-mounted solar panels, with the excess energy stored using Tesla batteries.
Bone Structure is planning to build 50 more homes in the area in the next year.