Company News & Press

April 28, 2017

iUnit apartment arrives at the National Renewable Energy Lab

iUnit Brings 380-Square-Foot Modular Apartment to the ESIF to Evaluate Advanced, Multifamily Construction.

Roughly 38 million people in the United States live in buildings that contain five or more units, totaling almost 18.5 million households. Increasing energy efficiency in America's multifamily apartment buildings, however, faces a number of challenges. Such challenges are largely due to immediate bottom-line approaches for multifamily construction, limitations to large photovoltaic (PV) systems, and a lack of access to data for residents, appraisers, and investors.

Recognizing this, Denver developer iUnit is working with NREL researchers at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) to employ the lab's apartment-in-the-loop research capabilities and energy modeling tools for enhanced energy efficiency while creating a modular apartment technology development platform for construction. The team aims to understand how a reduction in apartment-scale energy loads combined with energy storage can be scaled up to whole-building energy management. Researchers are also investigating energy storage opportunities that may be available to optimize PV integration at a whole-building scale.

Modular construction is considerably faster than building from the ground up because developers and contractors can assemble fully furnished units and ship them to the site, ready to install. Such processes can significantly cut time for construction, enabling a faster return on investment for property owners and making energy and cost savings data more readily available through deployment. Additionally, efficiency strategies can be more carefully installed where such expertise is concentrated. With an increasing demand for urban areas to accommodate growth in U.S. cities, modular apartment factories across the country may also benefit by revitalizing a niche manufacturing base and recruiting skilled workers for advanced, net zero, multifamily construction.