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Home Innovation Receives $4.5 Million from DOE to Demo Retrofit Innovation.

March 15, 2022 | Upper Marlboro, MD

Home Innovation One of Seven Teams Selected by DOE to Accelerate Next-Generation Building Upgrades

Part of $32 Million Award Package Aimed at Implementing Effective, Affordable, Low Carbon Building Renovation & Construction Techniques in Low-Income U.S. Communities

Home Innovation Research Labs is part of a very select group of teams announced yesterday by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that will receive funding to undertake 30 next-generation building retrofit projects over the next few years to dramatically improve affordable housing technologies. The seven awardees will implement and test renovation techniques that upgrade the energy and environmental performance of existing residential buildings quickly and affordably, while minimizing disruption to tenants. The teams and their proposed techniques were selected by DOE for their ability to impact the decarbonization of America’s 130 million buildings in line with the Biden Administration’s goals of a net zero carbon economy by 2050.

“Faster and more efficient construction and renovation methods that improve our nation’s supply of affordable housing are the kinds of transformative innovations we need to lower costs for working families and build a better America,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

To make this vision a reality, the Building Technologies Office (BTO) in DOE’s Office and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) created the Advanced Building Construction (ABC) Initiative to help provide builders and contractors with practical solutions that deliver sustainable, appealing buildings faster and more affordably. The projects selected for this effort are among the first whole-building demonstrations of the ABC Initiative’s efforts to drive the development and deployment of new building construction technologies and practices.

“Our team is humbled to play a small but meaningful part in the pursuit of a zero carbon future,” said Michael Luzier, Home Innovation’s President & CEO, upon learning of the award. “This is a perfect marriage of DOE’s leadership in attaining the goal of carbon neutrality, and Home Innovation’s mission to improve homes and home building products by eliminating barriers to innovation. These technologies will significantly improve the comfort of the residents in these demonstration buildings, as well as their peace of mind knowing not only that there will be a major reduction in their energy bills, but that they too are doing their part to minimize their carbon footprint, and ultimately helping us create better homes for the future.”

This latest round of funding builds upon innovations developed through previous funding from DOE’s 2019 Advanced Building Construction with Energy-Efficient Technologies & Practices projects. Through that earlier funding platform, Home Innovation headed a team that identified and assessed possible retrofit insulative building envelope solutions, ultimately deeming the solution put forth in this latest research proposal to be the most cost-effective, beneficial, and commercially-viable within the existing structure of our country’s building component manufacturing system.

In this new project, which was awarded $4.5 million, Home Innovation Research Labs will lead a team that includes ORNL, Kingspan, the Structural Insulated Panel Association, and the Albany Housing Authority, to retrofit three low-rise, multifamily residences in Albany, New York. The project builds on Home Innovation’s long-standing history of building science research, especially research focused on improving the building envelope. The project team will deploy an innovative nail-based system that integrates vacuum-insulated panels into retrofitted insulated panels to create a comparably lighter, thinner, and more cost-effective retrofit option to increase the R-value of exterior walls by a factor of four. And while those benefits are certainly impressive, the longer-range benefits are even more meaningful, according to John Peavey, P.E., Home Innovation’s Director, Building Science.

“While this particular demonstration project will focus on three existing buildings (48 apartment units) in one location, the potential impacts are much more far-reaching,” said Peavey. “If you look at New York State alone, there are about 614,000 multifamily buildings, representing 6 million units. In just the Cold Climate Zone, there are about 920,000 multifamily buildings, representing more than 9 million units. Across the entire United States, there are a total of about 2 million multifamily buildings, representing over 20 million units! With more than half the nation’s building stock having been built before 1970, we are confident this comprehensive whole-building retrofit package will provide significant and widespread benefits.”

This technological breakthrough, and those proposed by the other winning teams, are tackling one of the nation’s most difficult challenges when it comes to improving energy efficiency – developing appealing, widely-applicable, effective solutions for our existing building stock. Most of the newly-awarded projects will demonstrate large-scale renovations in the affordable housing sector, including public housing, manufactured housing communities, privately owned affordable housing, and student housing. Many of the innovations can also be applied to existing commercial buildings. (For a full description of all seven teams and their awarded projects, visit ABC’s online summary.)

Read DOE’s full announcement here. For more information on Home Innovation’s building science research work, visit our website.

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ABOUT: Home Innovation Research Labs, located in Upper Marlboro, Md., is a full-service research, testing, and consulting firm determined to improve the quality, durability, affordability, and environmental performance of single- and multifamily homes and home building products – in short, we aim to perfect the home. Founded in 1964 as a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), our team has been integral in solving many of our client’s most difficult product and technology issues, and helping to introduce some of the most groundbreaking innovations in residential construction. Through an interdisciplinary research approach – including market research, building science analysis, laboratory testing, and standards development – we help to find a home for innovation in the residential construction industry.

NOTE TO EDITORS ON STYLE USAGE: To identify this company and its work correctly, first reference should be "Home Innovation Research Labs." In subsequent mentions, "Home Innovation Labs” or simply “Home Innovation” are acceptable and accurate alternative references; we are not identified by an acronym. Prior to February 12, 2013, the company was known as the NAHB Research Center.