The method by which homes are being built today differ from years past. With designs moving away from the “McMansion” layouts that were popular years ago and toward more environmentally friendly, energy-efficient plans, homebuilders are preparing for the next generation of homebuilding.

In particular, prefab building and energy-efficient designs pair nicely. One example will be on display at this year’s Greenbuild Conference, which will take place in San Francisco November 14-16. The prototype for Paradigm, the new series of prefab homes built by Method Homes,www.methodhomes.net, Seattle, Wash., will be net zero for both energy and water.

The home includes rainwater harvesting, energy-efficient HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), lighting, and a solar photovoltaic that will generate power during the conference. Visitors will be able to compare the actual energy consumed versus the amount of energy generated.

Net-zero energy homes have been receiving quite a bit of attention as of late, and this prototype shows how a combination of design and technology can help homes consume less energy than they make.

Another example: The Solar Homestead, which is a self-sustaining home that uses solar technology to produce energy. This dwelling was designed by students and faculty in the Department of Technology and Environmental Design at ASU (Appalachian State University),www.appstate.edu, Boone, N.C., and was recently introduced to the market by Deltec Homes,www.deltechomes.com, Asheville, N.C.

Since the home is a panelized building kit, it can be shipped anywhere in the world. With a building enclosure and solar technology, this net-zero home can produce as much energy as it consumes. With customizable options, owners can adapt the design to meet their personal net-zero living goals.

As home designs continue to change, along with the methods by which they are built, technology will continue to be front and center in the movement, helping create and deliver energy-efficient, net-zero homes.