High-Performance Manufactured Housing
Today’s manufactured housing looks similar to conventional site-built housing and is regulated by federal quality and safety standards. It represents seven percent of the U.S. housing stock and is a major source of unsubsidized housing for low-income households. While generally considered to be affordable housing, the energy-inefficient older models (built before the federal “HUD Code”) are among the most expensive in the nation to heat. They also contribute disproportionately to greenhouse gas emissions which cause climate change. New models, while significantly better, have the potential to use even less energy – making them more affordable and reducing some of the 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions created by the building sector.
High-performance manufactured housing is a new generation of HUD-Code housing that begins closing the quality gap between conventional and manufactured housing – while maintaining affordability. “Life-cycle affordability”, or low first costs and low operating costs, is the essential element of high-performance manufactured housing. High-performance housing also is attractive, functional, water-efficient, resilient to wind, seismic forces and moisture penetration, and has healthy indoor environmental quality. There are several examples of high-performance manufactured housing in use, but they maintain a small share of the market.
The federal government has taken some steps to improve the quality and performance of manufactured housing, but further action is needed to drive the market. Recommended federal actions include:
- Implement Section 413 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop up-to-date energy efficiency standards for the HUD Code, based on technical feasibility and cost effectiveness.
- Provide active oversight of the HUD Code, updates, and compliance resources.
- Update requirements for ENERGY STAR-qualified manufactured homes so that ENERGY STAR continues to represent above-code energy efficiency standards.
- Finish the process of updating federal procurement specifications manufactured housing to address energy efficiency, indoor air quality and other issues.
- Use voluntary “reach codes” that exceed legal minimums, combined with compliance incentives to provide guidance on best practices and to pull the market toward better quality and performance.
- Educate consumers to raise awareness of high-performance manufactured housing and improve its image.
Other critical issues to be addressed include obstacles to financing for manufactured home buyers and the need for integrative, whole-building planning and design tools.
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