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California Energy Commission Awards $5M to 3D Printed Homebuilder Mighty Buildings

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Mighty Buildings, the Oakland-based additive construction (AC) firm specializing in prefabricated, climate-resilient homes, has been awarded a $5 million GFO-22-305 grant from the California Energy Commission. In partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Habitat for Humanity, Mighty Buildings will deploy the funds to develop, test, and demonstrate the use of its AC technology to provide cost-effective, zero-carbon or near-zero-carbon homes to under-resourced communities.

Mighty Buildings plans to develop and construct three prefab townhomes, which upon completion will be located in Bay Point, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The homes are intended to go to low-income families, defined as those making 80% or less of the area media income (AMI).

The project’s details include a number of specific objectives that Mighty Buildings and its partners aim to achieve, in order to exhibit advantages that are unique to the company’s core tech. These include plans for Habitat for Humanity to create a workforce training program that combines in-person and digital training, the introduction of new offsite 3D printing techniques intended to maximize the portion of construction done offsite, and the incorporation of new, on-site structural/waterproofing test kits for the completed homes.

As has become expected when Mighty Buildings is involved, the most exciting features of the project are the aspects surrounding clean energy. Each home will come equipped with the combination of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and a small battery, enabling “cool rooms” designed to shift peak loads from one concentrated evening period to “multiple scattered peak periods through the day”.

In addition to increased climate-resilience, the purpose of the cool room concept is to help lower the homes’ 10-year total cost of ownership (TCO). LBNL will also develop a novel model based on assessing the cost of manufacturing and energy of Mighty Buildings’ prefabs, with the goal of applying that model for modular prefabs on a larger scale.

The world’s first net zero energy 3D printed home, completed by Mighty Buildings in the fall of 2022

In a press release about the $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission, the CEO of Mighty Buildings, Scott Gebicke, said, “We are thrilled to embark on this groundbreaking project. Our collaboration with [LBNL] and Habitat for Humanity reflects our commitment to innovation, sustainability, and our community. The support provided by this grant goes beyond building three townhomes; it’s actively shaping the future of construction in California. We envision a future where affordable, resilient, and energy-efficient homes are the standard, not an exception.”

The site of Mighty Buildings’ project at the Bucky Dome Home in Carbondale, Illinois

After completing the world’s first net zero energy 3D printed home and naming Scott Gebicke its CEO in Q4 2022, Mighty Buildings has — somewhat quietly — had a big 2023. The company built a new factory in Mexico, landed a $52 million funding round that will help it expand into the Gulf region, and announced a project to construct a visitors’ center/museum at the R. Buckminster Fuller and Anne Hewlett Dome Home in Carbondale, Illinois.

Mighty Buildings’ business model should give it a major edge in the AC market, especially when it comes to the company’s potential for scaling up quickly. Don’t be surprised if you hear about even more ambitious projects from Mighty Buildings in 2024.

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