VEIC Author
Alison Donovan
Partners & Clients

VEIC had the opportunity to assess the viability of Zero Energy Modular (ZEM) homes as an affordable housing solution which could be advanced by NYSERDA for the benefit of the State’s low-moderate income residents and to support the achievement of its ambitious clean energy and carbon reduction goals.

The scope of this study included:

  • Researching the existing manufactured home inventory and annual sales of new manufactured homes in New York,
  • Assessing the regulatory and policy landscape governing manufactured homes,
  • Analyzing existing home mortgage products for appropriateness to ZEM homebuyers in multiple contexts,
  • Understanding what energy efficiency, renewable energy, and affordable housing incentives are available which could offset the cost of ZEM homes for low-moderate income homebuyers,
  • Interviewing affordable housing advocates and developers to gauge appropriateness of and interest in ZEM,
  • Calculating the costs and benefits of ZEM to assess long-term affordability, and
  • Collecting information about local programs and service providers that could support ZEM development, including modular factories.

The overarching finding of our research and stakeholder engagement is that zero energy modular construction would help address the need for affordable housing in New York state. Furthermore, this study confirms that there is significant interest in and a market for ZEM. This study particularly focuses on the opportunity ZEM presents as an alternative to manufactured housing and single family home construction, though zero energy modular construction can be applied in other contexts such as multifamily construction as well. ZEM also presents workforce and economic development opportunities to grow the green building market in the State.

When released in early 2019, Volume 2: ZEM Factory Initiative will help potential business owners and social entrepreneurs understand how to most efficiently and effectively set up and operate a modular factory that builds ZEM homes to meet the demand identified throughout this report.

VEIC recommends that NYSERDA proceed to developing a ZEM pilot program which builds from the research and recommendations provided in this report. The pilot should be funded to run for at least three years and be designed to leverage the myriad resources identified, while also developing additional resources and capacity where necessary, such as modular factories.

While NYSERDA will be on the cutting edge in moving forward such a pilot – a space we know NYSERDA commonly occupies - they would not be going it alone as their neighbors in states like Vermont and Massachusetts have past and present experiences with developing and implementing ZEM programs to draw upon. VEIC stands at-the-ready to support NYSERDA in further developing a ZEM initiative for New York.

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