Fast Company's Adele Peters takes a closer look at Asheville, N.C.-based building company Deltec Homes, which has been developing a line of net-zero houses for the past decade.

Although they weren't called net-zero homes back when Deltec first began conceptualizing them, the company realized the potential of renewable energy in residential applications from its beginning and focused on creating affordable, prefabricated housing that doesn't require any electricity from the grid. They have since designed nine different models of houses. Each cut out two-thirds of the energy used in a typical home of the same size, and the rest is powered by rooftop solar. Deltec plans to add two or three more models later this year.

"You know when you talked to people 10 or 20 years ago about a modular home, a panelized home, a prefab home, they generally saw that as a lower product than a site-built home," says Deltec president Steve Linton. "But I think in the last decade or so there's really been a paradigm shift in people's perception of that—where they realize they're getting so much more now than they can get by doing it the old way. I think about all of the products that we use in our daily lives, and really houses are the last product that isn't, for the most part, built in an advanced manufacturing facility."

Read more >