Vantem is a start-up construction company founded in 2020 by Bill Gates. It specializes in manufacturing high-efficiency, net-zero housing units at low embodied carbon and competitive prices. The company uncomplicates construction while reducing costs and delivery times. On account of this, Vantem utilizes highly efficient ceramic-like tiles to make prefabricated units and by extension build new housing quickly and cheaply. The North Carolina-based start-up has already made over 280,000 square meters of modular units designated for single-family homes and apartment buildings in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, and the Caribbean. 

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Cost-Effective Net-Zero Housing by Vantem_©www.archdaily.com

Net-zero homes signify ultra-efficient apartments or houses that produce the same amount of energy as they use. These buildings cost less than standard housing since they save on energy bills. Every aspect of a net-zero home, including the mechanical systems, renewable energy systems, and the building envelope works together as a system to set the seal on peak performance. Nevertheless, they frequently require advanced building technologies and engineering, thus involving high construction costs. In this respect, Vantem’s chief focus is to change this dynamic by employing modular construction technology. To this end, Bill Gate’s start-up uses panels with a proprietary design that sandwiches an insulating layer between two structural boards to build their notorious cost-effective net-zero housing.

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Schematic Representation of a Net-Zero House_©www.blog.chba.ca

Vantem’s buildings are energy efficient, affordable, and able to resist hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires. The company describes the outer material they use as ceramic-like and analogous to the tiles that covered the nose of the Space Shuttle. They are also fireproof and highly insulated.  Besides, it is the addition of solar panels that enables them to become cost-effective net-zero units. The North Carolina-based start-up assembles its apartment buildings or houses in a factory to cut costs to a greater extent.

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Vantem’s Affordable Housing_©www.archdaily.com

Affordable housing is housing that is deemed inexpensive to those whose household income is at or below the median as rated by the local or national government through a recognized housing affordability index. Given this, affordable housing is a global need that must be addressed without delay. However, if we keep knuckling down to traditional building methods, we scarcely solve one problem while other issues surface rapidly. Oppositely, Vantem is committed to addressing both challenges on an all-inclusive scale.

Vantem was first launched in the Caribbean and South America. After many years of testing, building proofs of concept, and code approvals, the company has devoted the last three years to constructing around three million square feet of housing. In each location, the start-up collaborates with local developers to build a new factory. Meanwhile, developers bring a pipeline of projects and hence can save money and time on construction. At present, Bill Gates’s company aims to expand in the United States over the next seven years with factories capable of constructing approximately 100,000 square meters of homes every year. Although in some cases many homes are devoid of solar installations, there is a possibility of converting them at a later point. Accordingly, Vantem intends to build as much net-zero housing as possible.

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One of Vantem’s Completed Apartment Blocks_©www.globalconstructionreview.com

The start-up was determined to bring together a group to figure out a way to make construction more productive, with a strong emphasis on energy efficiency. CEO Chris Anderson asserted that Vantem builds their cost-effective net-zero houses with large structural panels, replacing dozens of pieces, layers, and steps with one simple part. The company makes the entire box of the prefabricated modular units out of these panels which do not require any further reinforcement with steel, wood, or anything else. Moreover, they can be shipped to job sites that are conducted as if construction has been operated there for more than a hundred years. Vantem buildings are around 50% faster to build than standard construction and around 20% less expensive. Brought into comparison with typical net-zero construction, the company’s houses and apartments might be 30% less expensive. In the course of the next three or four years, the start-up plans to build 3,000 units of affordable housing in one project in Uruguay.

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Factory-Based Construction of the Net-Zero Housing Units_©www.archdaily.com

Net-Zero Kit Homes with Vermont-Based Vantem Panels

The first affordable net-zero energy kit homes were released under the name of SmartHomze with an estimated cost of construction of 150 dollars per square foot (permits, site work, and foundation are not included). SmartHomze are remarkably more affordable than typical green homes ranging between $200 and $250 per square foot. They are also more in line with construction expenses for an average new home. Among the main energy-saving components of SmartHomze are the urethane foam panels that have the highest of any insulation currently available. Additionally, the SIP panels can provide 242 points for the National Green Building Standard or an additional 72 points for LEED. Although SmartHomze are designed to be installed on a pier, they can be constructed on a slab or conventional foundation as well.

SmartHomze are initially available in five sizes

  • SmartHomze 560 – The Dover – 20’x28’ (560 square feet). It has one bedroom, one bathroom, a wraparound porch, and a storage loft. 
  • SmartHomze 750 – The Bedford – 20’x28’ (750 square feet). The space consists of one bedroom, one bathroom, a wraparound porch, and a sleeping or office loft.
  • SmartHomze 900 – The Woodstock – 20’x28’ (900 square feet). The house has three bedrooms, one bathroom, and a wraparound porch.
  • SmartHomze 1200 – The Mason – 28’x32’ (1200 square feet) with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a wraparound porch.
  • SmartHomze 1700 – The Sharon – 28’x32’ (1700 square feet) has three bedrooms, 2-1/2 bathrooms, and a wraparound porch.
Net-Zero Kit Homes_©www.ilovemodern.com

References:

  1. Florian, M.-C. (2022) Vantem, a Startup founded by bill gates, is building cost-effective net zero housingArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/985384/vantem-a-startup-founded-by-gates-is-building-cost-effective-net-zero-housing (Accessed: July 22, 2022).
  2. Joe (2022) Start-up Vantem plans 15 modular housing factories for USGlobal Construction Review. Available at: https://www.globalconstructionreview.com/start-up-vantem-plans-15-modular-housing-factories-for-us/ (Accessed: July 22, 2022).
  3. Peers, A. (2022) This Gates-backed startup is building net-zero housing in factoriesFast Company. Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/90767172/this-gates-backed-startup-is-building-net-zero-housing-in-factories (Accessed: July 23, 2022).
  4. Tech. Docs (2021) Vantem › Energy-Efficient Prefab Simplified. Vantem. Available at: https://vantem.com/resources/tech-docs/ (Accessed: July 23, 2022).
  5. Vantem › energy-efficient prefab simplified (2021) Vantem › Energy-Efficient Prefab Simplified. Vantem. Available at: https://vantem.com/ (Accessed: July 23, 2022).
  6. Mitchelides, S. (no date) Vermont-based vantem panels introduces $150 sq. Ft. Net-zero kit homesIlovemodern.com. Available at: https://www.ilovemodern.com/vermont-based-vantem-panels-introduces-150-sq-ft-net-zero-kit-homes/ (Accessed: July 24, 2022).
Author

Najlaa believes that writing, art, and architecture enunciate one’s inner voice. Through a process of research carried out with scrupulous attention to detail, she seeks to ease curiosity with a pen, and tame the incessant questions of Why and How.

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