Plant Prefab, the first Certified B Corporation™ building technology company dedicated to sustainable design, materials, and operations, announced it had signed a long-term lease to open America’s first automated factory devoted to efficiently and sustainably building multifamily developments and custom single-family homes. The new 270,000-square-foot facility will be situated on 17 acres in Bakersfield, California, and will serve as the company’s third factory.
Plant Prefab is the first Certified B Corporation™ building technology company dedicated to sustainable design, materials, and operations. The company’s patented Plant Building System™ utilizes advanced digital modeling and fully customizable Plant Panels™ and Plant Modules™ to help architects, developers, general contractors, and individuals design and build multifamily and custom single-family homes 20-50% faster than site-based methods. The system provides better quality control, design flexibility, time, cost, and material efficiency than any other offsite or on-site construction method. Plant Prefab has two factories in California and a design studio and show-home in Santa Monica. With a mission to build a better world by design, the company was the first housing prefabricator to announce a net-zero goal and achieve carbon neutrality in their operations in 2020.
Slated to break ground in January 2022, the facility will be purpose-built to manufacture custom-prefabricated panelized and modular building components efficiently. The factory will be the company’s first automated facility, using sophisticated machinery driven by digital modeling data to achieve even greater production velocity and quality assurance and efficiency unmatched by any other custom housing manufacturer. It will serve as Plant Prefab’s first regional production hub, expanding its service area to the entire Western United States and employing up to 440 people. Construction on the $30 million factory is expected to wrap in late 2022.
“The launch of our hub is a critical milestone in Plant Prefab’s broader mission to make architectural, sustainable housing more accessible. It allows us to expand our capabilities from single-family and small multifamily housing into high-volume, large-scale developments – including student, affordable, and market-rate housing for real estate, hospitality, and corporate developers,” said Steve Glenn, Founder and CEO of the company. “Materially expanding the end markets we serve helps address critical housing issues in supply- and labor-constrained markets. Our expanded capabilities will allow us to provide an even faster and more predictable, repeatable and sustainable building solution for both developers and consumers.”
The hub facility will allow for the complete industrialization of Plant Prefab’s patented Plant Building System™️, which combines advanced engineering with specialized Plant Panels™️ and Plant Modules™️ to build custom housing 20-50% faster than traditional building methods with up to 30% waste at a 10-25% cost savings in labor-constrained markets. The engineering-driven digital modeling tools and processes fuel the efficiencies, which the company has optimized over the past five years. Bridging the gap between design and construction, their digital modeling coordinates the routing of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing through the structure. This vastly reduces rework and delays, standardizes the production of custom housing projects into panelized and modular building components, and advances state-of-the-art finish applications in manufactured wall production.
Plant Prefab’s production hub will enable a step-change in speed to market, with production velocity anticipated to be 15 times that of the company’s existing facilities. The hub will be capable of producing 900,000 square feet of living space per year – the equivalent of 800 dwelling units. The facility’s panel production lines have been specially designed to accommodate each project’s unique dimensions, performance standards, and finish specifications. The facility will produce modules complete with all finishes, fixtures, and appliances for minimal on-site finish work.
The new production hub also enables a step-change in sustainability. The facility is being built to Plant Prefab’s strict environmental standards to minimize energy and water use and safeguard employee health. Energy-efficient lighting, appliances, and mechanical systems, coupled with high-performance windows, water-efficient fixtures, and utility monitoring, will minimize resource consumption, while solar power will offset electricity consumption. These efficiencies are critical to meeting their goal of achieving carbon-neutral operations by 2028.
Like all their other factories, the hub facility will build client projects using healthy and sustainable building materials, including wool-based insulation and recycled drywall, as well as zero-VOC paints, stains, and sealants. The facility will also build to extremely tight tolerances, producing high-performance wall assemblies that ensure optimal energy performance for the home’s life. In fact, in 2020, Plant Prefab-constructed homes outperformed California’s Title 24 energy efficiency standards by 10.4%, on average, while those designed by the Plant Design Studio outperformed efficiency standards by an average of 30%. Since its founding, dozens of their projects have achieved LEED for Homes Platinum or Gold certification, making the company one of the most experienced designers and builders of healthy, sustainable, high-performance homes.
Plant Prefab’s design and estimating teams are now engaging projects for the new Tejon Ranch facility, which expects to begin production in January 2023. The hub launch will be well-timed to help the company accommodate rising demand from a growing list of clients, as production contracts have grown by more than 175% in the past year alone. Looking ahead, the company expects to replicate its hub-and-spoke production model, allowing it to scale efficiently to meet demand across urban infill markets in other regions across the country, including the East Coast.