Research Focus Areas
Whole Building and Envelope Research
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.
Indoor Environmental Quality and Building Durability
Many believe that tighter building envelopes result in increased mold risk; however, very little research had been done on the specific causes of mold and moisture problems. Sponsored by the PIER Program, the Gas Technology Institute investigated mold occurrences and from that research they created A California Builder's Guide to Reducing Mold Risk. This guide provides useful information to both builders and home owners. The conclusion of the comprehensive research report was that most mold problems derive from defects in construction techniques and materials such as leaking windows, cladding and roof details, and from problematic operating conditions such as landscape sprinklers spraying exterior walls.
Whole Building Performance
Energy Efficient Low Income Housing Program
ADM Associates, Inc. and a team of subcontractors undertook a program that addressed energy efficiency in housing for low-income households. Habitat for Humanity affiliates and Mercy Housing in Sacramento collaborated in testing the technology concepts for the different projects described here. Several manufactured home builders also participated in the program. The program conducted seven research projects that benefit low-income households through low-cost options that reduce monthly energy costs and improve the quality of life by enhancing comfort levels in homes.
One set of research projects concentrated on either dispersing or making use of the heat that builds up in residential attics during the summer. A second set of projects focused on improving the energy efficiency of low-income housing under comfort and indoor air quality constraints. Another research project examined how the design of a low-income housing development affects ambient temperature. See the research report.
To view more projects see our publications search page.