497-231: Defining How Houses SHOULD Be Built

Meeting Days/Time
Tuesdays/Thursdays from 5:00 to 6:15 pm
Steve Beck (CAEE) (sbeck.creo@gmail.com)
Appropriate Disciplines
Applied Mathematics, Architectural Engineering, Architecture, Business, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Information Systems, Computer Science, Engineering Management, Environmental Engineering, Industrial Technology & Management, Materials Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Political Science
Technical Innovation

According to estimates from the US Green Building Council and the US Department of Energy, by the time three percent of the design budget for a new house has been spent, 70 percent of the energy use over its lifetime has been set in stone. With 35 percent of building energy loss occurring through its walls, it is critical to integrate the most cost-effective and high-performance solution into the design. The construction industry is slow to adopt new materials/techniques due to the lack of a comprehensive comparison addressing cost, performance and payback. Providing a side-by-side comparison of possible wall assembly options for any given design will allow the building industry to move forward in adopting the best available energy saving strategy for a given building design.

In order to have an impact on the above challenge, the IPRO team will construct and test various wall types to create a comprehensive comparison of cost, thermal-performance, structural capacity and payback. This will be followed by creating a plan and strategy for disseminating information to builders/developers to create positive change in the building industry by impacting building design /specification / purchase decision making.

The fall 2016 IPRO team will advance the work of the summer 2016 IPRO team by following through on plans for a wall system comparison testbed, and proceed to:

  1. construct it to accommodate various wall assemblies, considering alternative structural components from wood to light gauge steel, alternative insulation from fiberglass to spray foam, and alternative exterior sheathing from plywood to high-performance;
  2. test wall assemblies for thermal performance and structural capacity; and
  3. quantify critical wall assembly aspects that include construction cost, durability and annual energy costs.
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