October 2006

The Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership (BAIHP):
Saving Energy and Advancing the State of the Art in Residential Construction

by Janet McIlvaine and Subrato Chandra 

Building America logoThe Florida Solar Energy Center is the only university-based Building America team competitively funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy-Building Technologies program. DOE's Building America Program (www.buildingamerica.gov) advocates a systems engineering approach to home building that unites segments of the building industry that traditionally work independently of one another. The FSEC team was initially selected in 1999 and then selected again in 2006 for an additional five years.

BAIHP work will result in thousands of homes that are energy- and resource- efficient while enhancing comfort, durability, indoor air quality, insurability, affordability, marketability and construction productivity. As part of the Building America program, BAIHP will significantly reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

Over the next five years, the BAIHP team will conduct cost-shared research to accelerate the development and adoption of cost-effective, saving strategies that can be widely implemented by factory and site builders primarily in the hot-humid Southeast as well as in marine and cold climates of the Pacific Northwest.   The 25 percent cost share for the DOE award will come from state and industry groups.

Although BAIHP researchers will focus on factory builders -- the housing segment not emphasized by the other Building America teams -- they will also work with site builders. Industry collaborators on the project include HUD code home manufacturers (Palm Harbor Homes, Southern Energy Homes, Cavalier Homes, Fleetwood, Champion and others), modular home manufacturers (Clayton, Excel, Palm Harbor Homes, Penn Lyon Homes and others), production builders and developers (G.W. Robinson, Tommy Williams, East Bay, Castle and Cook, Babcock Ranch, WCI Construction and others) and 18 affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International in six states.  The annual production of the team members exceeds 100,000 homes.

BAIHP works with these housing producers toward the goal of saving 30 to 50 percent in annual energy use through a combination of energy efficiency and on-site energy renewable energy production, such as electricity from solar panels. The project homes often feature not only improved energy efficiency but also indoor air quality, durability, comfort, and “green” construction. Specific improvements include:

  • air tight duct systems
  • high efficiency windows
  • low VOC products
  • durability features
  • “cool” roofs
  • meticulously designed mechanical systems
  • mechanical ventilation.

BAIHP also conducts field and laboratory research -- evaluating the in-situ performance of homes, the effect of occupant feedback on energy use, moisture liability of mechanical ventilation in hot-humid climates, factory-integrated heating, cooling and water heating systems, photovoltaic integrated roofs and a new concept called “night cool” that utilizes the night sky to radiatively cool a building.

The BAIHP team, led by FSEC, collaborates with UCF's Industrial Engineering program (Orlando) and researchers and energy experts from Calcs-Plus (Venice, FL), Florida Home Energy and Resources Organization (Gainesville, FL), Oregon Department of Energy (Salem, OR), the Residential Energy Services Network (nationwide), the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and the Washington State University Energy Program (Olympia, WA). The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Energy Office has committed significant matching funding.

The map below shows the locations of most of the BAIHP project partners. We estimate that since project inception in 1999, we have assisted in the construction of more than 135,000 homes that are saving their homeowners more than $17,700,000 annually in energy costs.

Map of the United States showing the BAIHP parnters and research sites.

For summaries of some of the key projects conducted by BAIHP, click on the titles listed below:

More details on the complete BAIHP project can be seen in their annual report at http://www.baihp.org/pubs/finalrpt/index.htm. Biographies of the 18 researchers are available at http://www.baihp.org/researchers/index.htm.

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