By Moriah West, Head of Sales, Next Modular

Sustainable modular homes built off-site and assembled on-location offer numerous benefits that can lighten your environmental impact. Careful design, efficient construction processes, and the selection of eco-friendly materials and appliances all come together in affordable, sustainable, and low-carbon housing options.

Expansive factory floor showing modular homes under construction; ladders and scaffolding; aisle way shows overhead lighting and worker distant
Two workers at modular home factory install insulation in wood framing.
Two workers, one on a ladder, install insulation and sheathing under siding at modular home factory
Long view of modular home: two symmetrical modules being positioned on-site by crane; blue sky and dirt lot with mound of topsoil at right

Just to clarify: prefab refers to any building or building component that is manufactured in a factory prior to final assembly at the construction site. Whereas modular refers to a home built from self-contained units like building blocks. A modular structure is at least 70% finished in the factory prior to delivery to the construction site. All modular homes are considered prefab homes; not all prefabs are modular. A manufactured home, also referred to as a mobile home, is completely constructed in a factory then shipped to the site.

Here we’ll explore the sustainability benefits of prefab construction techniques in modular homes.

Modular homes are energy efficient

With technological advances, modular homes are now more energy efficient than ever. Because modular homes are factory-constructed and fit together with tight tolerances, insulation in walls, floors, and ceilings keeps air from leaking in or out. “Tight” insulation saves energy on heating and cooling. It also makes your home more comfortable by cutting down on drafts and moisture buildup.

Sustainable modular homes are designed more holistically, and can be sited to maximize sunlight without overheating. Highly efficient HVAC systems, such as heat pumps, and advanced, ENERGY STAR lighting and appliances can integrate with renewable energy upgrades. Geothermal systems use the earth’s natural heat to supplement heating and cooling needs. And solar panels can supplement or substitute for electric power from the grid. Installing solar panels with a solar battery can reduce dependence on fossil fuels, lower your monthly electric bills, and provide power in an outage or other emergency. Ultra-green modular homes that produce excess solar electricity, net positive energy, are paving the way to a net zero carbon lifestyle.

Modular homes reduce construction waste

Compared to traditional homes, modular homes are built using prefabricated components manufactured in a factory that maximizes efficient use and reuse of materials. The prefab components are then transported to the construction site for final assembly. Sustainable modular homes can reduce construction waste by up to half, saving money and preventing materials from ending up in landfills. Plus, modular homes use less energy during construction than traditional homes that require more labor traveling daily from across the region, materials deliveries, and use of heavy machinery on-site. (Your neighbors will thank you.) Note that a modular home factory is a safer environment for workers, as well.

You can create the eco-friendly home of your dreams

One of the most significant advantages of investing in a modular home is that you can customize it to your specifications. If you want a truly green lifestyle, you can minimize your carbon footprint without sacrificing comfort or style. With beautiful materials like bamboo, recycled wood, and adobe bricks to energy-efficient features like low-flow plumbing fixtures and solar panels—modular homes can be completely customized to meet your environmental goals. 

You can choose a tiny one-floor living space, but modular homes come in all shapes and sizes while remaining sustainable. If you need a second story to accommodate upstairs bedrooms or an office, focusing on functionality will ensure that the space meets your needs.

Do sustainable modular homes hold their value?

Modular homes offer several financial advantages over traditional “stick-built” houses. By using prefab construction techniques, modular homes can be built more quickly than conventional construction, which can mean significant cost savings for homeowners, landlords, and investors.

But the question persists: because of the unconventional way modular homes are constructed, do modular homes hold their value? Yes. Definitely. Well-maintained modular homes on privately owned property will rise in value, just as much as traditional stick-built houses. Modular homes are appraised for the same attributes as traditional stick-built homes, like the curb appeal, square footage, and neighborhood appreciation. High-end finishes and energy saving systems and appliances will continue to serve future owners, adding additional value.

Comparing a modular home to conventional construction, you can’t tell the difference. Modular homes are built with the same level of craftsmanship as site-built homes. And materials can be even more durable because they’re assembled in a controlled factory environment rather than exposed to the elements during construction.

Home and property loans work the same for modular homes as for site-built homes. With the relatively lower cost of building a modular home, you may find it easier to finance. Finally, with easier customization at the factory, you can add amenities and features that suit you and add to resale value.

Custom modular home with beautiful interior design, high ceilings, fireplace, expansive view of waterway
Double-height modular home with unique windows, outdoor living and dining areas on lower deck; upper deck with white vertical railing, nautical detail at apex; green lawn in foreground and waterway and sky reflected in windows
Well-appointed kitchen in double-height modular home: attractive interior design, shows hallways to upper and lower rooms

Rental properties

Sustainable modular homes make excellent rental properties, as high-end, efficient models become more common. (Of course, do you research to ensure that you buy low and rent high.) You may even attract a tenant motivated by eco-friendly living. Property management software can help interested tenants find your property, and help communicate with existing tenants about recycling and ongoing smart consumption strategies.

Depending on lot size and permitting, modular construction can also be used for ADUs or expansion of existing living space. These can sustainably accommodate a growing family, multiple generations, or renters. Sustainable modular homes are ideal for all sorts of homeowners who want to minimize their environmental impact without sacrificing comfort or style.

Head and shoulder image of smiling women in plaid jacket - Moriah West

The author: 

Moriah West is head of sales at Next Modular. She has an extensive background in urban planning and 4 years of experience in modular home construction. Mixing the two together, she’s an expert in helping clients find the home of their dreams.

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Interested in eco-friendly homes on a budget? See how ecological is economical in “18 Inexpensive Sustainable Homes Almost Anyone Can Afford.”