Modular Net Zero Carbon House: Prototype Development for Mass Customisation

Birte Christina Renger, Victor Bunster, Masa Noguchi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


Modular construction and prefabrication are increasingly gaining significance due to their potential for cost savings, improved energy efficiency and quality control, as demonstrated by various examples around the world. Due to the repetitive nature and volume of mass production, design quality can become a challenge and sustainability is often neglected, particularly in large-scale projects. This has recently led to the development of mass customisation/personalisation strategies being applied to housing and to the establishment of the international Zero Energy Mass Custom Home (ZEMCH) Network. The objective of this paper is to present a modular Net Zero Carbon Housing approach developed under these premises and illustrated with three project examples. The concept won the Sustainable Housing for Life Design Award 2015 and is currently being developed for industrial deployment with a prefabrication manufacturer. The design is highly flexible and adaptable to different locations and user needs and thus attracted interest at the University of Melbourne for it to be taken up as a prototype for Australia within the ZEMCH Network. Inspired by biomimicry, the concept is based on passive solar principles, natural materials and minimised building footprints, combining enclosed modules and connecting decks/breezeways to embrace the Australian outdoor lifestyle. A lifecycle approach determines the point in time when embodied carbon is paid back. Design variations in different climate zones have been simulated in order to compare lifecycle carbon and relative construction costs. The proposed holistic sustainable design approach shows promising ways to achieve cost effective mass customisation because a limited number of prefabricated elements allow for a variety of different configurations. This enables a personalised design to suit individual social needs and response to local site- and climate conditions. The lifecycle performance target aims at net positive contributions to the surrounding social- and ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationZEMCH 2018 International Conference: Proceedings
EditorsHing-wah Chau, Cynthia dos S. Hentschke
Place of PublicationMelbourne, Vic, Australia
PublisherZEMCH Network
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)978-0-7340-5486-9
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventZEMCH 2018 International Conference - Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 29 Jan 20181 Feb 2018


ConferenceZEMCH 2018 International Conference
Internet address

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