Home Types

What are the different types of energy efficient or green homes?

Not all homes are created equal… and that especially goes for non-traditional homes that offer varying degrees of energy efficiency, green and performance levels.

Think you have a high-performing home? Ask your real estate agent these three questions.

Traditional Homes

Traditional homes are the most common type in North Carolina.  They are generally built using wood frame construction with siding, brick, stucco and other exterior materials.

Energy Efficient Homes

Energy efficient homes use less energy than others and are generally certified, verified or rated by a third party during the construction process, or as part of an energy audit, to ensure that they really do use less energy than others.

Green Homes

In addition to being energy efficient, green homes are more environmentally-friendly than others and are oftentimes certified or verified by a third party.  Green homes may use construction materials that are environmentally-friendly, sourced from more localized sources and contain less chemicals, like VOCs in paint or carpet, than others.

Net Zero Energy Homes

Net zero energy homes are built using energy efficient practices so that, when renewable energy sources like solar PV are added, they either use as much energy as they produce (net zero) or may actually generate more energy than they use (net positive).

Prefabricated or “Prefab” Homes

These homes include modular and panelized homes:

  • Modular Homes come in a variety of types and sizes but all are constructed using prefabricated building systems. These homes are highly customizable and can be more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly than traditional homes due to their controlled construction techniques and efficient material availability.  Modular Homes are built in factories and then transported to a lot where they are permanently placed (note: not mobile).  Modular Homes can be built in a factory in one state to meet not only national building and fire codes but also state and local codes.  Once on-site, a local builder performs the final work to complete the house.
    • Click here for more information from the Modular Home Builders Association.
    • Click here for more information on the energy efficiency and performance aspects of Modular Homes from NAHB’s Building Systems Council.
    • Click here for ENERGY STAR’s guidelines and tips for Modular Homes.
  • Panelized Homes are built from foundation, flooring, wall and roof systems that are built as individual components in a climate-controlled facility and then assembled on-site. Doing so allows Panelized Homes to be built to high quality standards and precise measurements, out of the weather elements.  Click here for more information on the energy efficiency and performance aspects of Panelized Homes from NAHB’s Building Systems Council.
  • For more information on these types of homes, visit:

Manufactured or “Mobile” Homes

These homes are built in factories like prefab homes, but instead of being permanently attached to a lot using a fix foundation, are built on trailers or wheels and therefore able to be moved.  Due to their mobile characteristic, manufactured homes are generally not energy efficient or long-lasting.

  • Click here for tips on how to improve the energy efficiency and performance of manufactured homes from the Department of Energy.
  • Click here for information on North Carolina’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) that offers financial support and weatherization for manufactured homeowners.

Click here for an article detailing the differences between Pre-Fab and Manufactured Housing.

Tiny Homes

Tiny homes are mobile or permanent mini homes that are generally 250 square feet in internal floor space.  They can be built in factories or on-site and moved around via trailers or flatbed truck as needed.  Many tiny homes are built to be air tight, energy efficient and environmentally-friendly to lower their impact on not just the environment but also the homeowner’s budget!

Concrete Homes

Concrete homes take the traditional use of concrete blocks or poured concrete foundations one step further by incorporating concrete into most aspects of the foundation, wall and sometimes roofing systems of homes.  Doing so makes them more durable and resistant to extreme weather conditions that traditional homes.

  • Click here for more information on the energy efficiency and performance aspects of Concrete Homes from NAHB’s Building Systems Council.

Log and Timer Frame Homes

These homes offer high efficiency in the use of natural and commonly sustainable building materials from trees:

  • Log Homes are one of the most efficient ways to build due to low waste from construction techniques that use nearly all parts of the log, which are harvested from trees, a renewable building resource. Log Homes are built with stacks of logs and joining materials that create sturdy, thick and well-insulated wall, roofing and flooring systems.
    • Click here for more information on the energy efficiency and performance aspects of Log Homes from NAHB’s Building Systems Council.
    • Click here for ENERGY STAR’s guidelines and tips for energy efficient log homes.
  • Timber Frame Homes are built from large wood posts and beams that form the structural support of the home and require no interior load-bearing walls. The timbers are joined by connecting a mortise (hole) on the end of one timber with a corresponding tenon (tongue) that fits precisely and tightly. Mortise-and-tenon joinery can be cut to accommodate varying angles, complexities and design of a timber frame.
    • Click here for more information on the energy efficiency and performance aspects of Timber Frame Homes from NAHB’s Building Systems Council.