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The Woods

Performance and Costs of Ductless Heat Pumps in Marine Climate High-Performance Homes: Habitat for Humanity—The Woods

The Woods is a sustainable community built by Habitat for Humanity in 2013. This community comprises 30 homes that are high-performance and energy-efficient. With support from Tacoma Public Utilities and the Bonneville Power Administration, WSU is researching the energy performance of these homes and the ductless heat pumps (DHPs) they employ.


Northwest Energy Efficient Manufactured Housing Program High-Performance Test Homes

The Northwest Energy Efficient Manufactured Housing Program teamed with the U.S. Department of Energy's research team Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction and Bonneville Power Administration to help four factory builders in the Pacific Northwest build prototype zero energy ready high-performance manufactured homes (HPMHs). The potential annual energy savings for this HPMH package ranges from about 8,000 to 10,000 kWh for each home, compared with those the factories typically build.

Mini Split Heat Pump

Supplemental Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump in the Hot-Humid Climate

Central HVAC systems, commonplace in Florida, have leaky and heat gain-prone duct systems. Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps (MSHP) inherently have at least a 15% efficiency advantage over these standard systems. High-efficiency 25.5 SEER, 1-ton MSHPs were installed in the main living
area of six central Florida homes.

Zero Net-Energy Homes Production Builder Business Case: LifeStyle Homes

Building America research partners have demonstrated that high performance homes can boost sales, but it doesn’t happen automatically. It requires a tailored, easy-to-understand marketing campaign. LifeStyle Homes focuses on the high performance benefits - not the technical details behind them.

Business Case for High Performance Homes: Tommy Williams Homes

Building America research has shown that high performance homes can potentially give builders an edge in the marketplace. Tommy Williams Homes (TWH) has been capitalizing on that edge since becoming a Building America partner in 2004 and has sold over 250 high performance homes.

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GRID Alternatives

Habitat for Humanity International and Habitat Affiliates

Since 1994, BA-PIRC and FSEC have partnered with Habitat for Humanity to bring proven, reliable, high performance construction strategies to affordable housing. Check out the 15+ BA-PIRC case studies of high performance Habitat homes including certified DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes and deep energy retrofits at Check out the latest:

- HFH South Sarasota County Zero Energy Ready Home
- Southeast Volusia County HFH Zero Energy Ready Home
- Manatee County Challenge Home
- Palm Beach County Renovation with Deep Energy Savings
- Lake Sumter Habitat for Humanity Renovation with Deep Energy Savings

Impact of Infiltration and Ventilation on Measured Space Conditioning Energy and Moisture Levels in the Hot Humid Climate

Air infiltration and ventilation in residential buildings is a very large part of the heating loads, but empirical data regarding the impact on space cooling has been lacking. Moreover, there has been little data on how building tightness might relate to building interior moisture levels in homes in a hot and humid climate. To address this need, BA-PIRC has conducted research to assess the moisture and cooling load impacts of airtightness and mechanical ventilation in two identical laboratory homes in the hot-humid climate over the cooling season.

Applying Best Practices to Florida Local Government Retrofit Programs

BA-PIRC worked together in a multi-year field study making recommendations in individual homes, meanwhile compiling improvement costs, projected energy savings, practical challenges, and labor force factors surrounding common energy-related renovation measures. The field study, Phase 1 of this research, resulted in a set of best practices appropriate to the current labor pool and market conditions in central Florida to achieve projected annual energy savings of 15-30% and higher. This study describes Phase 2 of the work where researchers worked with a local government partner to implement and refine the "current best practices".

Evaluating Energy Savings in All-Electric Public Housing in the Pacific Northwest

This project analyzes the cost effectiveness of energy savings measures installed by a large public housing authority in Salishan, a community in Tacoma Washington. Research focuses on the modeled and measured energy usage of the first six phases of construction, and compares the energy usage of those phases to phase 7. Market-ready energy solutions were also evaluated to improve the efficiency of affordable housing for new and existing (built since 2001) affordable housing in the marine climate of Washington State.

Cascade Apartments – Deep Energy Multi-Family Retrofit

In December of 2009-10, King County Housing Authority (KCHA) implemented energy retrofit improvements in the Cascade multifamily community, located in Kent, Washington (marine climate.)This research effort involved significant coordination from stakeholders KCHA, WA State Department of Commerce, utility Puget Sound Energy, and Cascade tenants.

Technology Solutions for New Manufactured Homes

BA-PIRC worked with manufacturers to prototype and assess the performance of a package of readily available, cost-effective high performance building assemblies and mechanical systems that are not commonly deployed in the manufactured home sector. The measure package, given the working title “High Performance Manufactured Home” (HPMH), is able to reduce energy used for space conditioning, water heating and lighting by 50 percent over typical manufactured homes produced in the northwest.

Bay Ridge Gardens – Mixed Humid Affordable Multifamily Housing Deep Energy Retrofit

The Bay Ridge Gardens Apartments are comprised of multiple three-story buildings typically containing twelve apartments each. The apartments are between 700 sf and 925 sf and contain two or three bedrooms. In total, the complex consists of 198 units. While all of the units underwent a base scope energy retrofit, the BA-PIRC team concentrated on a deep energy retrofit (DER) of one building (twelve units).

Impacts of “Right Sizing” of Fixed Capacity (SEER 13) and Variable Capacity (SEER 22 and 21) Heat Pumps with Attic and Indoor Ductwork

A new generation of central, ducted variable-capacity heat pump systems has come on the market, promising very high cooling and heating efficiency. They are controlled differently than standard fixed-capacity systems. Instead of cycling on at full capacity and then cycling off when the thermostat is satisfied, they vary their cooling and heating output over a wide range (approximately 40 to 118% of nominal full capacity), thus staying “on” for 60% to 100% more hours per day compared to fixed -capacity systems. Experiments examined the performance of 2-ton and 3-ton fixed- and variable-capacity systems and the impacts of system oversizing.

Building America Top Innovations 2013 Profile: Zero Energy-Ready Single-Family Homes

Building America’s research is aimed at the goal of constructing high performance homes and many of the Building America research teams have worked directly with builders to construct zero energy or zero energy-ready homes.


Raised Ceiling Interior Duct System

One of BA-PIRC’s longtime Habitat for Humanity partners, S.E. Volusia CO (SEVHFH), was interested in building a home to the new Challenge Home standards. SEVHFH routinely builds ENERGY STAR V3.1 homes. The only modification to their design needed to comply with the Challenge Home criteria was the interior duct requirement. Unwilling to incur the added costs of a foam roof deck or wall heights above 8 feet to accommodate a fur-down chase SEVHFH opted to build a fur-up or raised ceiling chase.

Ducts Inside Conditioned Space [Dropped Ceiling or Fur-down]

Forced air distribution systems (duct systems) typically are installed out of sight for aesthetic reasons, most often in unconditioned areas such as an attic or crawlspace. Any leakage of air to or from the duct system (duct leakage) in unconditioned space not only loses energy, but impacts home and equipment durability and indoor air quality.This case study examines one Building America’s Builder Partner’s implementation of an inexpensive, quick and effective method of building a fur-down or dropped ceiling chase.


Wind Washing in Two-Story Homes: Identifying the Problem and the Opportunity for Repair

The Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction has investigated wind washing in 56 homes to identify the failure mechanisms that lead to wind washing, characterize the pathways for air and heat to enter the house, evaluate the seasonal energy savings and peak demand reduction that can result from repair of these wind washing problems, develop cost-effective retrofit solutions, and develop information that can help avoid these problems in new construction.


Pilot Demonstration of Phased Retrofits in Existing Florida Homes

The Florida Solar Energy Center and Florida Power and Light are pursuing a collaborative energy research /utility partnership to retrofit a large number of homes using a phased approach. The project is creating detailed data on the energy and economic performance of two levels of home retrofit – simple and deep. Acting as a pilot, this project is expected to provide the information necessary to significantly reduce energy use through much larger community-scale projects in collaboration with utilities, program administrators and other market leader stakeholders.

Short-Term Test Results: Transitional Housing Energy Efficiency Retrofit in the Hot-Humid Climate

This project evaluates the renovation of Free Clinic Beacon House, a two-story, multiuse facility built in 1926 and located on the west coast of central Florida. This homeless shelter can accommodate and feed up to 30 people and provides community evening meals for approximately 200 people every day. An optimal package of retrofit measures was designed to deliver 30%–40% annual energy cost savings for this building, with annual utility bills exceeding $16,000 and high base load consumption.

Insulated Siding Retrofit in Climate Zone 6

In recent years, re-siding a home with insulated siding has ranked as one of the best remodeling projects for the resale of homes, based on a cost to value ratio. In a merger of style with function, insulated siding is successfully capturing the attention of home buyers, by simultaneously improving curb appeal and the energy performance of homes.

Final Report – Hood River Passive House

The Hood River Passive Project, developed by Root Design Build of Hood River, Oregon, incorporates all features of the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) and meets all of the requirements for certification under the European Passive House standards. BA-PIRC and the WSU Energy Program approached this project as an opportunity to evaluate the Passive House design approach and process outcomes, document home performance, and track costs and determine obstacles to moving the Passive House into a cost-effective production environment.

Group Home Energy Efficiency Retrofit for 30% Energy Savings

This Sasha Bruce Youthwork home marks the first group home retrofit project to be featured by Building America. The home contains 6 bedrooms for 8 resident youth and has 3 offices for five staff. Beginning with a savings target of 30%, the BA-PIRC team was able to identify a set of minimally invasive retrofit measures that, once implemented, achieved 44% energy savings for the group home, based on post-retrofit utility bill data.

International Builders Show Logo.

Profiles of high performance homes showcased at the International Builders Show
2011| 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

Over the past several years, our partners have teamed up with a multitude of product sponsors to manufacture show homes displayed at the International Builders Show. Click the above links for profiles that highlight the homes’ energy efficiency and green attributes.


LifeStyle Homes' First True Net Zero Energy Home - Melbourne, FL

LifeStyle Homes completed its first zero energy home in August 2010. Final inspection and testing of the home resulted in an impressive HERS Index of -6, exceeding the Builders Challenge level of performance.

Residential Retrofit

High Performance Residential Retrofits - Florida and Alabama

In 2009, a Department of Energy Building America team led by the Florida Solar Energy Center began working with eight local government and non-profit partners to find costeffective
paths for improving the energy performance of existing homes in the hot humid climate.

G.W. Robinson ZEH

G.W. Robinson Homes' First True Net Zero Energy Home - Gainesville, FL

In April 2010, G.W. Robinson Homes unveiled its first “zero-energy” home in the
Garison Way community. Final inspection and testing of the home resulted in an
impressive HERS Index of -3, exceeding the Builders Challenge level of performance.


Deep Energy Retrofit - Central Florida Prototype

In 2009, the Department of Energy Building America team led by the Florida Solar Energy Center began working with eight local government and non-profit partners in Florida and Alabama who received funding under HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to purchase, refurbish, and resell foreclosed affordable housing. The first Sarasota NSP home to meet the HERS Index 70 goal is a 1995 three-bedroom home located in North Port, Florida.


High Performance Builder Spotlight – LifeStyle Homes - Melbourne, FL

Construction on LifeStyle Homes’ first Building America Builders Challenge home was completed in 2009 with a HERS Index of 60, a standard met by fewer than one in every 1,000 new homes built in Florida since 2007. It was the first Builders Challenge home built in Brevard County, Florida.

Tommy Williams Homes

Tommy Williams First True Net Zero Energy Home - Gainesville, FL (pdf 1.3MB)

This four pager includes ZEH Statistics, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Features, Indoor Air Quality & Noise Reduction Features, Systems Engineering by BAIHP.


40% Community Case Study – G.W. Robinson Builders (pdf 1.06MB)

G. W. Robinson Builders, Inc has built hundreds of high performance homes in partnership with BAIHP subcontractor Ken Fonorow of Florida H.E.R.O. 123 recently built homes had an average HERS Index of 65 – 35% better than code. This case study includes a discussion of improvements and cost effectiveness.

gulf coast

Gulf Coast High Performance Affordable Housing Demonstration Project

BAIHP researchers are working with affordable housing providers in Louisiana and Alabama to produce high performance demonstration homes scoring in the range of 72-74 on the HERS Index. Each house will also incorporate features for improved indoor air quality, durability, and comfort. BAIHP will conduct a workshop for local builders and subcontractors to foster adoption of Building America’s proven approach to building homes that save 30% in whole house energy compared to the Building America Benchmark.


Affordable Homes rise to DOE’s Builders Challenge in Brownsville, Texas

Working with certified home energy rater Chris Carroll of Carroll’s Inspection Services, the Brownsville Affordable Homeownership Corporation (BAHC) has collaborated with the City of Brownsville, Texas on a community of 14 affordable houses that meet the U.S. DOE’s Builders Challenge. More about the Builders Challenge:


Building America Day

G. W. Robinson Builders, Inc. and Tommy Williams Homes were recognized on April 25, 2007 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for their leadership and commitment to building energy efficient homes. They are partners with the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership which includes the Florida Home Energy Resources Organization who assisted the builders in reaching their goals.

Florida_Home Image.

Quick Links for Florida Home Buyers & Builders

Over the past three decades, FSEC has conducted residential energy use research in Florida's hot humid climate. This list is quick links for Florida home buyers and builders which will take you to some of our most requested materials.

Return Air Pathway Study.

Return Air Pathway Study

Ideally buildings with forced air heating/cooling systems are pressure neutral. To overcome house pressure imbalances caused by door closure, a variety of passive return path strategies were studied including a product produced by BAIHP Industry Partner Tamarack that overcomes privacy issues associated with through-wall grills. Achievable air flows for jump ducts, through-wall grilles, sleeved through-wall grilles, and the Tamarack baffled through-wall grille are presented.

Checkmark image.

Recommendations for High Performance Homes

This is a checklist of general recommendations for the construction of energy resource efficient homes in a hot/humid climate.

Janet McIlvaine with FIU Staff.

Florida International University's 2005 Solar Decathlon Entry

FSEC and BAIHP researchers provided assistance to FIU students and faculty for their 2005 Solar Decathlon entry. The house, named "Engawa" after the Japanese term that describes space that is both inside and outside, is on display at the Mall in Washington D.C. in the Solar Village.

Metal Roof.

Metal Roof Retrofit on a Hurricane Damaged Home

This home in Cocoa, Florida was damaged in the summer of 2004 by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. A white metal roof was installed over the damaged shingles to reflect summer heat. Initial measured data show a 19% reduction in air conditioner energy use.

Orlando House.

City of Orlando, Florida

The City of Orlando, through the office of Housing and Community Development in the Planning and Development Department, constructed an environmentally friendly demonstration home called the “Orlando House: Florida’s Future”, on an infill site within the city. The City requested FSEC assistance to assure the home met Building America goals and the Florida Green Home Designation Standards.

North Dakota Twin Homes.

Cold Climate Case Study; High Efficiency North Dakota Twin Homes

The Eastern Dakota Housing Alliance has completed 8 of 20 planned multi-family and single-family dwellings on Selkirk Circle in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Four twin-home units were completed in March 2003 (Phase I) and four more identical units were completed in February 2004 (Phase II).

WCI Communities.

WCI Communities at Evergrene

BAIHP has partnered with WCI Communities, Inc. on the first in a series of prototype “green homes”. The home was built in WCI’s Evergrene Community, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida in August, 2003.

Pet House.

Pet House Project

BAIHP researchers assisted FSEC researchers in designing and building the K-9 Comfort Cottage, an entry in the Orlando Science Center Community Council's Second Annual Pet House Project, which won the award for "Most Scientifically Designed Pet House". The Pet Houses were on display at the Sun Trust Bank downtown Orlando and at the Orlando Science Center from October 24 -December 5, 2003. The K-9 Comfort Cottage will be permanently housed in the visitors center at the Florida Solar Energy Center.

Cambridge Home.

Cambridge Homes at Baldwin Park

BAIHP worked with Cambridge Homes to create a demonstration model home in Baldwin Park that showcases both energy efficiency and indoor air quality.  The BA Showcase Model, as well as a standard model built to minimum Cambridge Homes specifications, have been instrumented and are being monitored in order to quantify the benefits of the advanced features of the showcase home.

Zero Energy Manufactured Housing.

Zero Energy Manufactured Home

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is holding tours of the Zero Energy Manufactured Home from September 6-15. BAIHP worked with BPA in the development of the Zero Energy Manufactured Home. This home is touted as the most energy efficient manufactured home built to HUD-Code in the United States. For more information about the Zero Energy Manufactured Home, see this BPA brochure (pdf file).

Six Moisture Home.

Six Moisture Home Case Studies

Six case studies were conducted to determine the causes and propose solutions for moisture problems found in HUD-Code homes in hot and humid climates. Picture to the left: Evidence of water inside the light fixture - cold interior temperatures coupled with long term negative pressures during a hot humid summer will fill the globe.

Dream Home.

Dream Award.Making the DREAM Home a Reality

This award winning project is no experimental house. Any builder in America can follow the example set by BAIHP team member Fallman Design and Construction in Lake County, Florida.

High Efficiency Central Florida Home.

Highly Efficient Central Florida Home

This home in Longwood, Florida near Orlando was recently completed with BAIHP design assistance. Using the systems approach, a package of features was used to produce an exceptionally energy efficient design at a reasonable cost.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Manufactured Homes.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Manufactured Homes

North Carolina A&T University (NCATU) has located two high visibility manufactured homes on its campus in Greensboro, NC. One of the homes is conventional and the other is expected to be 50% more energy efficient. Data monitoring began in December 2000.

Super Good Cents.

Natural Choice Program.Super Good Cents/Natural Choice Program

For the past decade, the Super Good Cents/Natural Choice voluntary program has transformed a large segment of manufactured housing built in the Pacific Northwest. BAIHP supports WSU participation in this outstanding program by partially funding the technical assistance activities.

Portable Classrooms.

Portable Classrooms

This project provides technical assistance to portable classroom manufacturers, school districts and related organizations interested in improving the quality of learning and energy efficiency of portable classrooms. Several portables at various sites in the Pacific Northwest are being monitored.

Side-by-side comparison of manufactured homes.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Manufactured Homes

In cooperation with York International, Manufactured Housing Division (now Stylecrest Sales) and Fleetwood Homes, BAIHP monitored two nearly identical, side-by-side manufactured homes in Bossier City, Louisiana, near Shreveport.

Palm Harbor Homes.

Palm Harbor Homes - 16 Factories in 8 States

PHH ( is a leading manufacturer of HUD-code homes with 16 factories in 8 states producing more than 15,000 homes annually.

Entry Level - Orlando, FL.

The Entry Level Homes - Orlando, FL

Three entry level homes were built in Orlando, FL. Each home demonstrated a different built technique. The homes were monitored for energy consumption and indoor air quality.

Health House - 1997 - Orlando, FL.

Health House ® 1997 - Orlando, FL

The Health House 1997 was built to demonstrate superior indoor air quality and energy efficiency.

Health House - 1996 - New Orleans, LA.

Health House ® 1996 - New Orleans, LA

The New Orleans Health House was built to Demonstrate superior air quality and energy efficiency.