The Energy in Modular (EMOD) Buildings Method: A Guide to Energy-Efficient Design for Industrialized Construction of Modular Buildings

Shanti Pless, Ankur Podder, Zoe Kaufman, Noah Klammer, Conor Dennehy, Naveen Kumar Muthumanickam, Stacey Rothgeb, Joseph Louis, Colby Swanson, Heather Wallace, Cedar Blazek

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Industrialized construction has immense potential to address the growing need globally to build and upgrade the building stock to be affordable, energy-efficient, and resilient. It can also help achieve the United States' goal of a 50% reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. Despite this potential, and the ever-increasing push for electrification and decarbonization of households in the United States, industrialized construction has not yet been leveraged specifically to help address these challenges and accelerate the pathway to meet these goals. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) aims to claim this missed opportunity by focusing on delivering affordable, grid-efficient net-zero energy (NZE) modular buildings for underserved communities to ensure an equitable transition to the future of clean energy, accelerate decarbonization of the built environment, and support the development of a high-productivity construction and energy efficiency workforce. The Energy in Modular (EMOD) method is our approach to designing, producing, and delivering affordable, net-zero energy, low-carbon, and healthier buildings at scale. The following energy efficiency strategies are part of the scope of this guide: envelope thermal control, envelope infiltration control, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, smart controls, and solar plus storage. We draw synergies between design for manufacturing and assembly, process optimization, retrofit technologies, and digitization. Our goal is to influence the improvement and production of buildings to increase performance, enhance energy efficiency, and reduce GHG emissions. This guide documents the research and development efforts initiated by a set of design objectives to "modularize" a set of energy efficiency and low-carbon strategies into a housing unit while preserving and enhancing energy efficiency benefits and decarbonization pathways. This guide is intended to serve as a framework for housing developers, housing agencies, architects, energy experts, and process engineers or factory operator personnel who are critical to today's modular builder teams. This guide focuses on specific energy efficiency strategies, decarbonization pathways, and associated processes as part of NREL's research efforts. Stakeholders may substitute other means, methods, and technologies for the ones evaluated in this study.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages64
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5500-82447


  • affordable housing
  • all-electric buildings
  • construction
  • decarbonization
  • design
  • electrification
  • energy efficiency
  • industrialized construction
  • mechanical pods
  • modular buildings
  • net-zero energy
  • solar plus storage


Dive into the research topics of 'The Energy in Modular (EMOD) Buildings Method: A Guide to Energy-Efficient Design for Industrialized Construction of Modular Buildings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this