April 2007

FSEC Provides Assistance to Homes Featured at the International
Builders' Show
Revised April 16, 2007

Photo of the International Builders Show sign.

More than 100,000 people attended the International Builders' Show in February.
Photo: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Among the highlights of this year’s National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders' Show in Orlando in February were some high-performance homes that attracted a lot of attention for their energy-saving construction and features. The work of a number of center researchers helped with the design and planning of these homes as well as the information given to interested attendees.  With more than 100,000 builders and others in the construction industry attending the show, FSEC’S efforts helped make these homes a big success.

“We actually had two important roles at the builders show,” explained Stephanie Thomas-Rees, a research architect in FSEC’s buildings division.  “We were very visible at the show with several of our staff members helping support the U.S. Department of Energy’s booth and working the ‘Ask the Experts’ desk, answering all kinds of questions on buildings, solar water heating, photovoltaics and other topics.  There was a lot of interest this year as you might expect in zero-energy homes, and we had the opportunity to talk with many builders, architects, engineers and others about energy-saving features and strategies in homes.”

Photo of researchers and participants at FSEC booth.
Sitting in front of the Building America booth, Stephanie Thomas-Rees (left) and David Hoak were available to answer energy-efficiency building questions.
Photo: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

But there was a second major role that FSEC played that was more behind-the-scenes that Thomas-Rees was especially excited about.  “There were two ENERGY STAR-qualified manufactured homes built by Palm Harbor Homes that drew tremendous interest,” she explained, “as both were promoted as being part of the Department of Energy’s Building America program that supports research toward zero-energy homes.  One was the ‘GenX’ single-family home and the other the ‘EchoBoomer’ town homes, both of which featured improved envelopes, low-E vinyl windows, high-efficiency HVAC equipment with ventilation strategy to promote good indoor air quality, ENERGY STAR appliances, compact fluorescent lighting and other features.”

FSEC provided technical assistance during the planning of these homes, and worked with industry to get renewable energy products donated for the show homes.  Researchers also worked with Palm Harbor during the planning of the homes to make sure the products being sponsored were compatible with the objective of qualifying for both the Florida Green Building Certification and ENERGY STAR ratings.  Sev

According to David Chasar, a senior research engineer in FSEC’S Buildings Division, FSEC staff tested and conducted ENERGY STAR ratings on these homes.  “We performed blower door and duct blaster tests to determine duct and envelope airtightness,” Chasar explained.  “Test results were used in the buildings’ ratings.  Though there are plenty of third-party raters that can perform these tests, we got involved as a Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership (BAIHP) partner and used the results to get firsthand knowledge of how Palm Harbor Homes are performing and then provide feedback on possible improvements.  I worked with FSEC’s Carlos Colon and David Beal to conduct the tests.”
A number of other FSEC Building Division staff members worked on homes at the show.  Chasar pointed out that there were two other show homes that were higher-profile site-built homes where FSEC played a key supporting role.  David Hoak was responsible for documenting progress on the site while keeping an eye out for possible construction problems, Eric Martin performed green certification ratings, and Hoak, Chasar, Beal, Colon, Martin and Josh Newland all worked together on performance testing for ENERGY STAR ratings.

The Buildings Division also worked with the center’s Solar Energy Division to provide design and technical support for the 4-kW PV system installed on one of the homes. Kevin Lynn, a senior research engineer in the Solar Energy Division, led this effort and was active in finding industry partners willing to participate. “This synergy between our organization’s division really makes FSEC a ‘one stop-shop’ for high-performance project assistance,” Thomas-Rees added.
One of the keys to the success of these efforts was the support of a number of individuals and organizations who provided donations and technical support for the Palm Harbor home and the New American Home.  Donations to the homes (and their contact individuals) included:

  • 3.25 kWp BP Solar PV System (donated by SunBuilt, FlaSEREF and BP Solar).  Contact: Colleen Kettles.
  • GridPoint Inverter and instant, “clean” battery-backup power and energy management system (donated by GridPoint, Inc.)  Contact: Allison Archambault .
  • Solar domestic hot water systems for both homes, including installation (donated by SunBuilt, FlaSEREF and the Florida Energy Office/Dept. of Environmental Protection).  Contact: Colleen Kettles.
  • Show sponsorship for achieving ENERGY STAR status (donated by Progress Energy).  Contact: John Masiello.
  • Honeywell DH90 Dehumidifier (donated by Honeywell).  Contact: Don Feliciano.
  • PV and SHW installations were completed by Dave Bessette of Allsolar Service Co. Inc. (The PV installation on the Palm Harbor Home was paid by Palm Harbor Homes)
Photo of side of manufatured home with panelling cutaway.
The GenX manufactured home incorporates photovoltaic and solar water heating systems.
Photo: David Hoak

“I think what encouraged me the most after talking with so many builders and especially the general public at the show,” she said, “was that people were impressed at not only the quality environment of the manufactured home but that you could put renewable energy equipment on these homes in a quality controlled environment.  It’s obvious that every year, manufactured homes just get better and better, and adding PV and solar hot water options to them allows them to compete with the site built zero-energy homes.”

You can get more details on the homes at www.baihp.org/casestud/ph_homes2007/index.htm/.