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A Kit-to-Part Solution to Lower Energy Burden and Increase Housing Affordability

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Research Team

Our Motivation:

“The AEC industry is increasingly becoming aware of its social impact and responsibility. To this end, basic multidisciplinary research aiming to bolster MEP systems in modular construction has the potential to reduce the energy burden and optimize the use of natural resources. DfMAI proved particularly useful to achieve these goals as it builds on a well-known concept in manufacturing to include installation, particular to this industry, necessary to enhance on-site productivity.”


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Research Contribution

Theory that addresses uncertainties associated with site installation of centralized energy-efficient MEP systems. 

Developing a methodology for the optimal integration of energy-efficient MEP systems in modular construction using design for manufacturing, assembly and installation (DfMAI).

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Practical Problem

MEP systems constitute a large portion of costs and are difficult to track.

Modular multifamily and hotel projects are reliant on centralized systems for MEP needs.

These systems hinder any opportunity to move more work from the site to the off-site factory, and continue to be a part of the on-site work scope.

Conceptual Problem

Reduced value from industrialized construction of modular apartment or hotel units in a controlled factory-built environment.

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Use off-site MEP Pods, which afford a parallel opportunity to increase a project’s sustainability

Test simulation using a digital twin

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Added Value For The Industry

A Kit-of-parts prototype based on proposed DfMAI methodology.

A developed DfMAI matrix to optimize interaction of system components.

Guidelines on how to better integrate MEP Pods into current construction systems.

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Cooperation Partner

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Year 2021

Research became awarded: A Kit-of-Parts Solution to Lower Energy Burden and Increase Housing Affordability


Jun. 2021

Started internship at NREL

Foundation for the “DfMAI of MEP” methodology to help move towards a unitized Pod solution for energy-efficient MEP that serves each apartment or hotel

Aug. 2021

Industry-wide survey

Collected data from CIFE members, prefabrication companies, and companies looking to enter the prefabricated construction market.

Sep. 2021

End of internship at NREL

Developed DfMAI Matrix for system interaction

Dec. 2021

Abstract accepted (Journal of Construction Engineering Management)

Title: Design for Manufacturing, Assembly, and Installation of MEP Pods in Off-Site Factories for Modular Multifamily and Hotels

Year 2022



Feb. 2022

Began development of digital twin

Automated data collection, performed statistical analyses, and ran simulations

May 2022

Paper submission

Develop kit-of-parts prototype based on paper findings

Nov. 2022 

BENEFIT proposal

Application for federal funding




If you want to participate in the project, please reach out to Wilfrido Martinez-Alonso (

Research Update & Progress Report