Research Focus Areas
Community Scale Research Projects
Integrated Urban Development
This research project provided findings on how community leaders and builders can integrate land use, transportation, and urban design features and certain building energy technologies to produce energy-efficient development projects in California. Researchers modeled these technologies and design features for two development sites in Chula Vista, California, and assessed their impact on the environment and the existing electric and natural gas utility infrastructure. Additionally, researchers examined market and institutional barriers that prevent municipalities and the development industry from adopting these types of communities.
The major obstacle for implementing cool roofs into mainstream housing design has been the preference for the aesthetic appeal of darker roofs. With PIER-funded help from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, manufacturers developed colored cool-roof materials which reflect long infra-red rays of the sun and thus significantly decrease unwanted solar heat gain. Further PIER-funded studies have shown these that these roofs will help decrease the cooling load of a house, in most climate zones more than compensating for slightly increased heating loads. See the comprehensive research reports.
Zero Energy Homes
In partnership with several non-profit housing developers, Green USA set out to build two zero energy affordable housing projects in San Diego County. The housing developments were monitored for a six month period, during which time they were able to keep the apartments electrical demand well below 1 kilowatt per unit. They were also a net exporter of electricity during four of the six monitored months. While they did not meet all of their goals, they provided an excellent example of how affordable low impact housing units can be developed.
To view more projects see our publications search page.