Why ZenniHome chose to build its factory on the site of an old coal plant
ZenniHome’s sustainable factory for prefab homes is on the site of the decommissioned Navajo Generating Station coal plant near Page, Arizona.
ZenniHomes are designed to help make living well simple. Your Denizen or Citizen has a light footprint, both in size and carbon impact. With smart design and robotic furniture from Ori, your 320 or 640 square-foot home functions like a much bigger dwelling. And ZenniHome’s built-in green technology, including solar power, saves both money and eco-stress.
But your ZenniHome’s environmental journey doesn’t begin the day you move in. No, your Denizen or Citizen was designed for eco-cred from birth. We believe it matters how prefab homes are built. The factory behind factory-built homes should be just as sustainable as the homes themselves.
That’s why ZenniHome has chosen to manufacture its models on the site of the decommissioned Navajo Generating Station (NGS), near Page, Arizona. Our new home base is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. We’re minutes from the shores of Lake Powell and close to the staggering natural beauty of Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Here, we’re reminded daily of why we want to build ethically, sustainably and smartly—for the planet and for its people.
Sustainably built prefab homes
The Navajo Generating Station was a coal-fired plant that started creating power in 1974 on Navajo Nation land outside of Page.1 In the decades since its founding, green technology improved and environmental regulations increased. Local activists pushed for cleaner power sources and the plant’s owners reportedly struggled with its financial viability.2 Under these compounding pressures, the NGS closed in 2019. Its three huge smoke stacks were demolished in December 2020.1
Around 750 NGS employees, most from the local Navajo and Hopi communities, were left to look for other work—often in places far from home.1 Coconino county was out $40 million in property taxes when the coal plant closed,3 the Navajo Nation lost $50 million in annual revenue, and the Hopi lost 85 percent of their annual budget. Community leaders are calling for more assistance and support to help the community transition out of a coal-based economy.2
Enter ZenniHome. The company’s founders were looking for an alternative to Chinese manufacturing at the same time the communities around NGS were searching for industries that could recharge their local economy. ZenniHome toured the decommissioned NGS site with leaders from the Navajo Nation, Coconino County and Page. Together, they envisioned a new use for the old coal plant, one that could benefit the earth and the surrounding community:
- A plant that prioritizes employing Native American craftspeople—especially women—who lost work when the NGS closed.
- A plant that commits to paying $15 an hour—at the very least—with competitive wages for skilled labor.
- A plant that takes steel recycled from the coal plant’s demolition and uses it to create beautiful, prefab green houses.
- A plant fueled by hydropower and built for energy efficiency.
- A plant that can partner with other local businesses and attract more like-minded, innovative start-ups to the area.
- A plant that can support vocational training and educational collaborations for young people in the community.
- A plant that can help meet urgent housing needs in its own neighborhood.
- A plant that could learn from, not take from, the Diné and Hopi people.
Within months, ZenniHome had signed a contract with the Navajo Nation and began outfitting its state-of-the-art prefab factory and hiring local builders. ZenniHome is looking forward to creating a long-lasting, fruitful relationship with the area’s communities, based on our shared values of sustainability, creativity and respect. The new plant’s first Citizen and Denizen models will be shipped out in ____ 2022 . Where coal used to reign, now smart prefabs homes are supreme.
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