What is a modular home?
A modular home is a prefabricated home that is made of multiple modules or sections that are manufactured and substantially assembled in a manufacturing plant. These pre-built sections are transported to the building site and constructed by a builder to meet all applicable building codes for site-built homes.
How can a modular home earn the ENERGY STAR?
A home earns the ENERGY STAR by meeting strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. EPA. The guidelines applied to modular homes are the same guidelines applied to site-built homes1. There are two ways a modular home can meet these guidelines and earn the ENERGY STAR:
- Each modular home is rated by a third-party Home Energy Rater (or equivalent). The Home Energy Rater must coordinate with the plant and the site builder to verify those ENERGY STAR-related features of the home that are installed both in the plant and on-site.
- Utilize the verification procedures described below which involve a plant certification process to certify that a plant has incorporated ENERGY STAR requirements into its in-plant inspection procedures and can consistently produce modules that can earn the ENERGY STAR, as well as an on-site inspection process where a third-party consultant visually checks that all ENERGY STAR requirements have been met. The plant certification process as well as oversight and enforcement of all quality assurance requirements related to designing, producing, and installing ENERGY STAR certified modular homes is the responsibility of a Quality Assurance Provider (QAP). The Systems Building Research Alliance (SBRA) has been approved by EPA as a national (QAP) for ENERGY STAR certified modular homes. For SBRA's compliance procedures for certifying modular homes for the ENERGY STAR label under ENERGY STAR Version 2.5 requirements, go to www.research-alliance.org. A PowerPoint presentation (1.8MB) is available that highlights ENERGY STAR's Version 2.5 energy efficiency requirements and SBRA's compliance process for modular homes to earn the ENERGY STAR label under ENERGY STAR Version 2.5.
Verification Procedures for ENERGY STAR Certified Modular Homes2
The following verification procedures can be followed for modular homes to earn the ENERGY STAR label. These procedures include three main elements:
- Plant Certification
- Builder Qualification
- Compliance Verification
To produce modules for homes that, when constructed, can earn the ENERGY STAR, a manufacturing plant must first demonstrate to the satisfaction of a qualified and Quality Assurance Provider (QAP)-approved third-party consultant that it has the ability to consistently produce homes that comply with the ENERGY STAR requirements with respect to all work conducted in the plant. This results in the plant being certified by the third-party consultant to produce modules that can earn the ENERGY STAR. All work of the plant is conducted under the oversight of the third-party consultant who is a specialist in factory building with expertise in energy efficient construction.
To become certified the plant must develop procedures that address:
- Education - Plant personnel must be properly trained in all ENERGY STAR requirements and procedures. Plant staff and the third-party consultant must document all in-plant and on-site ENERGY STAR requirements and procedures and provide this information to all plant personnel as well as to builders that the plant utilizes to build ENERGY STAR certified modular homes.
- Designs – All modular home designs developed by the plant or by the third party to be used in producing ENERGY STAR modular homes must be reviewed and approved by the third-party consultant as meeting ENERGY STAR requirements. (Prescriptive Path or Performance Path)
- QA/QC process - The plant must develop compliance verification documentation and processes including the integration of ENERGY STAR provisions into the plant’s QA/QC process and have these third-party reviewed and approved
- Inspecting and testing - As a condition of plant certification, the plant must have its homes third-party inspected and tested both in the plant and on site to establish the plant’s ability to routinely build compliant homes.
- Maintaining plant certification - The plant must be periodically re-inspected by the third-party consultant to confirm that proper procedures remain in place and to resolve production-related problems if and as they arise.
- Becoming an ENERGY STAR Partner - All plants participating in the production of modular homes to be constructed onsite as ENERGY STAR certified homes must be ENERGY STAR partners
- To participate in building ENERGY STAR certified modular homes under these procedures, builders have to first demonstrate the ability to consistently meet ENERGY STAR requirements by establishing specific on-site inspection and testing procedures that includes the use of an independent third-party who can visually verify and document that each home has met all program requirements prior to earning the ENERGY STAR label, and that also includes a process for addressing non-compliance issues. These procedures must also include reporting requirements for builders to report their ENERGY STAR activity to the QAP. Builders must also be ENERGY STAR partners to use ENERGY STAR's partner-only logo and to be listed on ENERGY STAR's Partner Locator.
Compliance with ENERGY STAR requirements for each home must be verified both in the plant and at the site following procedures that are established by a QAP. These procedures must address home compliance both in the plant and at the site as follows:
- In-Plant Inspection and Verification Procedures. Plants must comply with their third-party-approved QA/QC process and label each home that is to be ENERGY STAR certified with a unique identifier recognizable by the third-party field inspector. This identifier indicates to the field inspector that all ENERGY STAR requirements in the plant have been met.
- On-Site Inspection and Verification Procedures. A third-party consultant must inspect, test and certify homes installed and completed by the builder on site, as well as report qualifying homes to the QAP. The QAP approves and monitors this third party, who must possess qualifications appropriate for the task as defined by the QAP. Site testing follows a sampling protocol, reflecting the fact that the manufacturing plant has been certified and has demonstrated the ability to consistently produce homes that comply with ENERGY STAR requirements.
How to Promote Your ENERGY STAR Modular Homes
ENERGY STAR provides its active partners the opportunity to utilize the ENERGY STAR brand in promoting homes that earn the ENERGY STAR label. Modular manufacturing plant and builder partners must adhere to ENERGY STAR's Brand Identity Guidelines when promoting ENERGY STAR certified modular homes. These guidelines describe how the ENERGY STAR name and marks may be used in promotional materials. In addition, ENERGY STAR distributed a letter (657KB) and a quick logo-use reference guide (2.0MB) to all ENERGY STAR modular plant partners that provides clarification on how plants can use the ENERGY STAR brand.