PATH, Partnership for Advancing Housing and Technology A Public-Private Partnership For Advancing Housing Technology
PATH A Public-Private Partnership For Advancing Housing Technology
Activities and Programs  

What is Path?
PATH Partners
Innovative Topics
Activities and Programs
Technology Inventory
Contact PATH

Start of Main ContentApplied Research

The work of Federal research laboratories bridges the gap between background research and technologies developed by industry. Universities and institutional researchers do not focus on developing products for the market, and manufacturers and industrial groups do not always have research development resources. Therefore, both groups are unlikely candidates for the interim work achieved by Federal research laboratories. Since its inception, PATH has worked with the largest Federal research facilities performing housing-related work including the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Products Laboratory, the Department of Energy's labs, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

USDA Forest Products Laboratory

The USDA Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) in Madison, Wisconsin, is the Nation's leading wood research institute. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service created FPL to concentrate federally sponsored wood research under one organization. Research concentrates on pulp and paper products, housing and structural uses of wood, wood preservation, wood and fungi identification, and finishing and restoration of wood products.

The FPL's Advanced Housing Research Center leads the research on wood-frame housing. The center focuses on the evaluation and development of technology needed for new and existing housing in which wood or wood-based products are used as primary or secondary building components. Emphasis is on the improved use of traditional wood products, the use of recycled and engineered wood composite materials, energy and sound efficiency, indoor air quality, an improved living environment, and resistance to natural disasters.

Research conducted by FPL's Advanced Housing Research Center in cooperation with PATH focuses on the following areas:

  • The development of reliability-based design for housing in high wind areas.

  • The effects of cyclic moisture on engineered wood panel products.

  • The development of wood/non-wood composites using recycled materials.

  • The use of recycled lumber for construction by establishing grading rules and grade stamp criteria for recycled lumber.

  • Improved durability of sealants in cooperation with PATH's metrics research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


Annual Conference on Durability and Disaster Mitigation in Wood-Frame Housing
The conference provides design professionals, builders, code officials, government officials, researchers, and educators with the latest information on wood-frame housing durability and disaster mitigation issues.

Current FPL/PATH Research Projects

  • Outdoor durability of wood-plastic composite lumber
    The study will ascertain the durability of wood-plastic composite lumber when exposed over time to fungi and ultraviolet (UV) radiation; determine how additives such as stabilizers, pigments, and fungicides improve UV resistance and fungal durability; and increase knowledge about the ease of scale-up from laboratory to industrial processing equipment.

  • Panelized roofing systems made from natural fiber and recycled plastic
    The project will further develop and refine a new material technology (natural fiber/recycled plastic) in the form of a molded composite roofing system. This research and development project will quantify the durability, installation advantages, time savings, and builders' acceptance of the new roofing product.

  • Predicting the life span of sealants used in home construction
    This research will develop a reliability-based protocol that incorporates both accelerated and outdoor exposures for predicting the service life of various sealants used in construction. This protocol will guide development of standards in cooperation with industry and standard-setting organizations, which in turn will improve industry confidence in accelerated testing.

  • Increasing the Marketability of Reclaimed Lumber
    The project will establish grading criteria (rules), develop engineering property data and reuse options, and propose a grade stamp for reclaimed lumber.

Past FPL/PATH Research Projects

  • Decay of wood and wood composites under cyclical conditions
    This project determined the susceptibility of wood and wood products to decay under wetting cycles with various cycle periods at different temperatures.

  • Reliability of residential buildings
    There were no accepted methods to account for the behavior of residential structures as connected floor, wall, and roof systems. The understanding of this system behavior is especially needed during high winds or seismic shaking. If residential buildings were engineered as systems, engineering analyses would hasten the introduction of new products and innovative building designs, while providing consistent levels of reliability. The project determined building pressure and forces for a 10-mph wind velocity and developed proposed reliability-based general Load Resistant Factor Design procedures for system performance and for connected systems performance.

Contact Information

Forest Products Laboratory
Michael Ritter
Jean Livingston
Karen Martinson
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53705-2398
Tel 608-231-9200
FAX 608-231-9592
TYY 608-231-9544

Dana Bres
451 7th Street, SW, Room 8134
Washington, DC 20410-0001
(202) 708-4370

U.S. Department of Energy Laboratories

The U.S. Department of Energy Laboratories (DOE) Laboratories are America's leading energy research infrastructure. The DOE Labs are dedicated to a variety of energy-related research topics. The following are the most relevant to housing:

DOE's Office of Building Technology, State and Community Programs coordinates the collaboration between PATH and other DOE research laboratories. It also houses the DOE's Emerging Technology program, whose purpose is to increase awareness and demand for new, highly efficient technologies while helping manufacturers and utilities bring the technologies to market. Many energy-efficient applied research projects are supported through this effort and through the DOE's Building America and Rebuild America programs, as well as a series of technology roadmaps.

On May 9, 2001, DOE released the Buildings Envelope Technology Roadmap, which complements PATH's roadmapping projects.

Federal Emergency Management Agency

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an independent agency of the Federal Government founded in 1979 to reduce the loss of life and property and to protect America's critical infrastructure. Because FEMA's program is based on hazard mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery, it is particularly interested in construction methods and techniques that can improve housing's performance during emergencies.

Homebuilder's guide to coastal construction and training material The joint effort between PATH and FEMA contractors documents and effectively disseminates state-of-the-art design and construction practices for coastal construction by homebuilders and related construction trades. The project also identifies and evaluates innovative techniques that may improve the durability, disaster resistance, affordability, and overall design efficiency of coastal construction.

Coastal Construction Practices
Resources on constal construction.

Introduction to Residential Coastal Construction
Information about residential coastal construction.

The development and incorporation of in-house shelter construction and mitigation-related energy efficiency technologies and practices in existing buildings The project provides for the construction (and documentation of the process and related efficiencies) of wind hazard resistant "Safe Rooms" within new and existing houses. FEMA has developed and published the standards for constructing safe rooms and will use these standards for the project. The project will pilot and document the effectiveness and efficiencies of incorporating mitigation technologies and practices into ongoing energy efficiency activities in the DOE Weatherization Assistance Program.

Keep Your Family Safe: Build a Tornado 'Safe Room' in Your Home
Explains why residents of tornado-prone areas should build a "safe room."

FEMA Safe Room Events
Promotes the building of safe rooms in tornado-prone areas.

Retrofit Manufactured Housing for Safety

The two-phase research initiative will identify and document techniques for the retrofitting of in-place (existing) manufactured homes to improve their resistance to natural and manmade hazards. Phase I is directed toward such natural hazards as hurricanes, hailstorms, snow, lightning, earthquakes, debris flows, and floods. Phase II may address such manmade hazards as fires, indoor air pollution, and burglary. The objective of this project is to identify, analyze, and document retrofit options, with indications of their likely costs and related benefits.

Content updated on 10/29/2002 Back to Top Back to Top
HUD Partnership for Advancing
Technology in Housing (PATH)
451 7th Street, SW, Rm. 8134
Washington, DC 20410-0001
Telephone: 202 708-4370   Fax: 202 708-5873
PATH Home | Privacy Statement