A Scalable Method for Decarbonizing Modular Building Solutions: Preprint

Zoe Kaufman, Noah Klammer, Ankur Podder, Shanti Pless

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The decarbonization movement emphasizes the shift in focus from energy efficiency to directly reducing global-warming impact. Blokable, LLC, a vertically integrated modular builder with an all-electric portfolio, worked with NREL on a roadmap to decarbonize its high-performance building product at a relative cost advantage by utilizing the learning curves of mass production. Previous decarbonization literature focused on either i) lifecycle assessments, or ii) efficiency measures. These decarbonization exercises were bespoke to individual building projects and did not consider positive feedback loops of builder experience or process repetition. Vertically integrated, prefab builders possess the unique ability to leverage learning and repetition to decarbonize their design-build-operate process. This collaboration between Blokable and NREL resulted in a decarbonization strategy utilizing the company's scaling and production efficiencies, on-site renewable energy and storage, and the projected evolution of building components over time based on trends and emerging legislation. The method developed here encompasses a growing business model, lifecycle carbon assessment, and projected changes in product and grid emissions over time due to existing trends and emerging legislation. This methodology incorporates learning-curve efficiencies gleaned from scaled manufacturing, as well as open-source tools integration for energy and carbon accounting. The output projects and compares cost and carbon savings per modular unit as production increases to 10,000 dwelling units annually over 15 years. The resulting roadmap illustrates a path to roughly 60% carbon savings and beyond-net-zero-energy performance at no incremental cost by 2030. The methodology can be mapped to other integrated or productized builders for methodical decarbonization.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2022
Event2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings - Pacific Grove, California
Duration: 21 Aug 202226 Aug 2022


Conference2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings
CityPacific Grove, California

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5500-84598 for paper as published in proceedings

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5500-82516


  • affordable housing
  • Blokable
  • code
  • decarbonization
  • embodied carbon
  • embodied emissions
  • embodied energy
  • emissions
  • LCA
  • life cycle assessment
  • lifecycle assessment
  • modular
  • net zero
  • up-front carbon
  • ZNE


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