In around a year’s time, a vacant lot near the Outlets at Tejon will be buzzing with activity.
Inside a new 270,000-square-foot factory, the components of new homes will be manufactured each day. The factory’s owner, Plant Prefab Inc., hopes the factory will pave the way for a cleaner and cheaper model for home construction.
On Thursday, Plant Prefab executives held a small groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the future factory, which will one day employ around 440 people.
“We’re focused on building extremely sustainable, healthy, high-quality homes, much more efficiently,” said Plant Prefab CEO Steve Glenn. “For those of us who care about climate change, we’ve got to build buildings in a more efficient way, from an energy perspective, water perspective and resource perspective.”
According to the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based intergovernmental organization tasked with advising countries around the world on energy issues, the building and construction industries released 39 percent of industry-related emissions in 2019.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says energy use related primarily to the heating of commercial and residential buildings makes up 13 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas output.
To that end, Plant Prefab’s $30 million factory will use automation to construct prefabricated homes with 30 percent less waste than traditional construction in 20 percent to 50 percent less time. In addition, the company claims its homes cost up to 25 percent less than ones in traditional markets.
“Building in a more environmentally responsible way is in the core DNA for us,” Glenn said, adding that the factory will also address the state’s housing crisis with its ability to build homes relatively quickly and cheaply. “I think we are focused on a couple different areas.”
Plant Prefab allows customers to design their own homes or select from a collection of renderings. Its design studio is based out of Santa Monica.
At its most productive, the Kern County factory will be able to produce the equivalent of 900,000 square feet of living space per year, which the company concludes is the equivalent of 800 “dwelling units.”
With other factories in Rialto and Ontario, the Kern County location is the third factory opened by Plant Prefab, greatly expanding its output. The company chose Kern County after a multi-state search for its relatively low cost and access to transportation and workers.
The company received a tax rebate from the Kern County Board of Supervisors worth up to $6.6 million over 30 years.
If all goes well, Plant Prefab could also contribute to the housing needs attributed to Tejon Ranch’s residential and commercial projects like Grapevine.
“We are pleased to welcome Plant Prefab to the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center,” Joseph N. Rentfro, Tejon Ranch Co.’s executive vice president of real estate, said in a statement. “We offer a state-of-the art commercial/industrial center strategically located between Los Angeles and the Bay Area, with efficient access to the Interstate 5. Given the location, Plant Prefab will be able to reach the entire Western U.S. and have room for future growth.”