How to Slash GHG Emissions from Housing by 60%Feb 16, 2022

Blokable, the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), have released a report detailing actionable pathways to developing net zero energy (NZE) housing without increasing costs, yet still reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The newly released report, Decarbonization During Predevelopment of Modular Building Solutions, independently evaluates Blokable’s near-term roadmap for the advanced manufacturing and development of all-electric, NZE, multi-family housing. In the study, NREL compared Blokable’s prototype designs with its scaled up, full production engineering model. The study found that by 2030, compared to conventional housing construction methods, Blokable’s model for the manufacturing and development of NZE housing can decrease total lifecycle GHG emissions by 60%, reduce construction material waste by 91%, and avoid the release of 2.4 million tons of CO2 equivalent. Moreover, when Blokable adopts this model, it can achieve these metrics without any added manufacturing or development costs.

The NREL technical report emerged from Blokable’s participation in the IN² technology incubator and platform, which is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by NREL. As a program participant, Blokable received $250,000 in non-dilutive funding and hands-on technical assistance for additional technology development and validation. Blokable then installed a single Blok module on NREL's Golden, Colorado, campus for performance testing and experiments by NREL.

“Working with Blokable gave us a different perspective on how building system innovation can be applied in a new way by using a different business model,” said NREL Senior Research Engineer Shanti Pless. “Blokable was selected for the IN2 program because of its mission to address housing affordability and energy efficiency simultaneously. Our research quantifies how much the building sector could benefit from the learning effects of advanced manufacturing, which yields compounding energy and material efficiencies without increasing costs.”

“In the U.S., there are only 36 rental homes available per 100 extremely low-income households, and these households also bear the brunt of climate and energy risks,” said Blokable Co-CEO Nelson del Rio. “This is why Blokable has spent five years developing a business model and building system that would address both housing affordability and energy efficiency. NREL helped us evolve our building design to exceed engineering best practices and building code performance metrics. Their research showed us that by adopting our model, we can manufacture NZE housing without adding new costs – thus scaling up a dramatically more efficient form of housing for society.”

“Construction costs will continue to rise faster than incomes into the foreseeable future. Unless we invest and innovate right now, the housing crisis will continue to worsen, the cost to governments will continue to grow, and people and the planet will suffer,” said Blokable Co-CEO Aaron Holm. “The development sector and supporting building industry have lagged behind other industries in achieving efficiency gains through technological innovation and standardization. The NREL report demonstrates that it is possible to leverage the learning effects of manufacturing to dramatically reduce both the economic and climate costs of housing creation. It means that Blokable can rapidly develop NZE housing that is substantially more energy efficient, at lower costs than conventional approaches.”

The Blokable Building System is designed and engineered for manufacturing and to consistently produce high-quality, low-cost, connected housing. Each volumetric “Blok” is a standard component that can be stacked and assembled in multiple configurations. Manufacturing 95% of the building in the factory significantly reduces per-unit build times and costs.

Blokable’s pilot project, called Blokable at Phoenix Rising, is an all-electric, permanent low-income housing community near Seattle, Washington that Blokable developed for 50% less than the regional cost per door. At the same time, this state-of-the-art housing development costs 60% less to heat and cool, which lowers lifetime operating costs as well as annual utility expenses for tenants. Each unit is quiet, all-electric, efficient, and ventilated with fresh air, using energy recovery ventilation to mitigate bacteria, molds, and other unhealthy air particles. Blokable at Phoenix Rising was developed and manufactured by Blokable to be a comfortable, safe, and healthy living environment that saves tenants money and offers them housing stability for years to come.

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