With the goal of mass-producing net-zero homes, a Canadian building and design firm has introduced a revolutionary steel construction system to the U.S.
The introduction comes as builders look for ways to meet Title 24, which requires all new homes in California to produce as much energy as they consume via renewable techniques such as solar or geothermal by 2020.
A custom home under construction in Stanford, Calif., will serve as a test case for the framing technique developed by Quebec-based design/build firm BONE Structure. It uses a patented light-steel building technology to create homes built from columns and beams that are laser cut in a manufacturing plant and delivered to the site for assembly. A five-person assembly crew can assemble the shell of the 3,200-square-foot home in days, using only battery-powered drills and self-tapping screws to secure the steel columns and beams in place.
Electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems are easily connected thanks to precut openings acting as “highways” within the structure. Precut insulation panels clip into place between the steel columns and polyurethane foam insulation is sprayed on the exterior that tightly seals the building and acts as a vapor barrier. Together, the steel structure, insulation panels, spray insulation, and the roof create a tight, energy efficient envelope, says Charles Bovet, BONE Structure, U.S. vice president.
“Our shells are net zero ready, meaning they are extremely energy efficient and with the addition of a small solar system they can produce more energy than they consume,” says Bovet.
Homes built with the new technique can have a very large open plan interior space and double height ceilings, he adds. The home’s shell produces near zero waste, is made of 89 percent recycled steel, and is 100% recyclable, seismically resilient, and safe from damage by termites and mold, according to the firm.
BONE Structure expects to build 50 new homes in California in 2016 and plans to soon produce 1,000 residences per year, says Bovet. The company also collaborates with architectural firms and other outside professionals and has a network of authorized builders composed of general and specialized contractors, project managers, and developers across Canada and California.