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Building America Update Newsletter

Building America Update Newsletter

Welcome to the Building America Update, a monthly newsletter. Read this month's feature story, or select the other newsletter topics below for more information. You can also Subscribe to receive the email version of Building America Update or browse newsletter archives.

Feature Story

The ARIES Collaborative, a Building America team led by the Levy Partnership, has a project that focuses on evaluating a high-performance Integrated Design approach to low energy, affordable housing.

Photo of men with shovels in front of Habitat for Humanity sign.One of three houses to be built during the project, the Habitat for Humanity Metro West Greater Worcester (MWGW) house in Massachusetts is part of a research project that will help address the need to make major reductions in space conditioning energy use (≥ 50%), while holding the line on home affordability. Specifically, the project will combine an ultra-efficient thermal envelope, a low capacity, highly efficient mechanical system, an innovative distribution system and affordable ventilation—and set in motion steps to rapidly move this innovation to market.

ARIES will work with Habitat MWGW to construct, monitor, and evaluate this prototype home, assessing performance relative to project energy and affordability targets, and identifying and addressing any occupant-related performance issues. Cost and constructability issues will be documented and opportunities for reducing cost and improving quality recorded. Documentation of the building process and labor and material costs will enable future design optimization.

The home will be instrumented to record performance and comfort metrics including room temperatures, relative humidity, buffer-space temperatures, outdoor conditions, equipment runtime, and energy use. Occupants will be educated on home operation, and the home will be monitored for a heating and cooling season with the results compared to simulations to verify performance. A report will be prepared describing to what extent the occupied test homes meet energy and comfort criteria. Performance-improving design and operation changes will be suggested as well.

Pictured is the groundbreaking with MWGW staff and project partners on Nov. 8, 2016, in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Upcoming Deadline for Latest Funding Opportunity

To move the industry toward higher efficiency and more innovation, the Department of Energy (DOE) Building Technologies Office (BTO) released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), Building America Industry Partnerships for High Performance Housing Innovation – 2017.

"We are looking for more Building America project teams to tackle the remaining technical challenges that slow the adoption of envelope and HVAC system innovations needed to mainstream high-performance homes in both the new construction and home improvement industries," said Eric Werling, DOE Building America program director. "We're building on the work we began in 2015 and 2016 to address as many of the remaining gaps and objectives in the Building America Research to Market Plan as we can with available funding."

This work will contribute to achieving BTO's goal of reducing the energy use intensity of new homes by at least 60% and existing homes by at least 40%, relative to the 2010 average for homes in each of the seven climate zones, with a focus on reducing heating and cooling loads.

This FOA has two topics.

  • Topic 1: Building America Technology to Market Roadmaps: Selected Objectives
  • Topic 2: Baseline Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Field Study in Occupied New U.S. Homes

The full application submission deadline is February 1, 2017, by 5 p.m. ET

To apply, visit the DOE website.

Read more about the Building America Program and sign up for future newsletters.

Building America Webinar: Air Sealing Best Practices and Code Compliance for Multifamily Area Separation Walls

Join the DOE Building America Program as experts provide an overview of area separation wall assembly construction in multifamily buildings, air sealing methods, and code compliance requirements. Continuing education credits can be earned.

Air sealing of area separation wall assemblies is an identified barrier that limits the ability of builders to cost effectively achieve higher energy efficiency and quality levels in multifamily housing. Area separation wall assemblies that are tested and certified by UL have not been designed or tested for air tightness, and air leakage through these assemblies can be a barrier to achieving air leakage limits mandated by the International Residential Code and International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The 2012/2015 IECC mandates 3 ACH50 in climate zones 3-8 measured air leakage requirements for all units within multifamily buildings.

Current efforts to engage with UL may address these challenges and provide a mechanism for code acceptance of air sealing methods for these area separation wall assemblies. Join us on this webinar to learn more about these challenges and current efforts to resolve them. The speakers are:

  • Pam Cole, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Ari Rapport, IBACOS
  • Robby Schwarz, EnergyLogic.

Continuing Education Credits Earned on Completion of the Live Webinar

  • 1.5 LU/HSWs will be reported to AIA CES for AIA members.
  • 0.15 CEUs for ICC members, must self-report to ICC with the Certificate of Completion.

Day: December 15, 2016
Time: 1 p.m. ET

Register now.

Stump the Building Science Chump Webinars

This new webinar series from the DOE Building America Program, Stump the Building Science Chump, challenges professionals in the residential construction industry to ask building science questions that stump the building science experts! We want to know what problems are most vexing to you and your teams. It's our program goal to help provide solutions—or develop them where they don't already exist.

Our first expert was Dr. Joe Lstiburek, the founding principal of Building Science Corporation. Our next chump will be a builder, so continue to submit your questions to

We will feature the best questions during the upcoming webinar. Our experts will answer your questions and provide resources to help you solve the toughest building science challenges.

Your questions should be clear and concise and should focus on challenges related to the building science of achieving high levels of energy performance in new and/or existing homes.

Keep current on upcoming Building America webinars by visiting the Meetings web page.