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Showcasing Innovation

PATH Demos Offer Consumers Next Generation Technologies, Products, Systems In Action

Two PATH affiliated projects with builders, manufacturers -- in Yonkers, New York last November and in Simi Valley, California this winter -- showcase "real-world" applications of new housing technologies. for consumers.

Habitat for Humanity, the APA-Wood Engineered Systems, Premier Building Systems, PATH and numerous other manufacturers and suppliers sponsored the Yonkers, New York home. Millions of viewers of "CBS This Morning" television show watched as volunteers raced to build the 1,200-square foot two-story home in less than five days. Bob Vila, CBS Television personality, offered CBS viewers daily progress reports as well as explanations of the different technologies and products being installed in the home. Vila’s production crew also shot footage for 13 episodes of his nationally syndicated "Home Again" show. The in-depth features on the building of the Yonkers Habitat for Humanity home and its technologies will be broadcast next fall.

Advanced technologies for this EnergyStar-rated home include; structural insulated panels; engineered wood products; panelized concrete foundation; high performance glazing; special drywall clips and trim; high efficiency ventilation and exhaust system; special paint system; Intelligent home wiring information system; dimmable compact fluorescent lighting; and a waste water heat recover device.

Building on the success of the Habitat for Humanity home in Yonkers, NY, PATH has headed west to showcase the latest in technology-based innovations in housing. Southern California Edison, builder Beazer Homes, PATH and PATH partners Carrier Corporation, Dupont, Tyvek, Lucent Technologies and General Electric are building an energy efficient demonstration home in California’s Simi Valley’s Heather Hills housing development that will yield a solid 40 percent reduction in energy use.

house drawing
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According to Gregg Ander, AIA, chief architect for Southern California Edison, "the objective is to reduce energy operation costs without sacrificing indoor air quality and comport; to explore construction practices that reduce manufacturing and site waste; to reduce overall material quantities while improving thermal perfomance; to target the use of recycled and recyclable construction products; to design homes [that are] sensitive to the natural features of the area; to take advantage of passive means of cooling and heating; to integrate renewable energy technologies and to fully integrate the most advanced information technologies available today." Taken together, these interrelated objectives constitute a "whole building" approach to design and construction.

Materials and technologies used in the Simi Valley project are proving that sustainability and economic viability are not mutually exclusive, and in fact may be closely aligned. Each of the components selected has been evaluated for its impact on first cost, operating costs over time, and the product or system’s role in enabling cost reductions in other areas of the home. For example, the choice of low emissivity (low-e glazing -- which generally costs more than standard glazing -- enabled a reduction in the size of the home’s two heat pumps from two 3.5 ton units (7 tons) to one 2.0 ton and one 2.5 tun unit -- a savings of approximately $1,5000. The difference outweighs the cost of the glazing upgrade, and will pay dividends in improved occupant comfort and reduced operating expenses over the life of the home. Good insulation, a tight envelop, and ductwork located primarily in conditioned spaces also contributed to the reduced demand, but these elements can be incorporated at minimal or no increase in first cost.

The following building products and systems have been specified for use in the Simi Valley demonstration house: value engineered framing, outdoor deck constructed using wood/polymer decking, high performance low-e glazing, house wrap designed for stucco exterior finish, low-or no-VOC paints (all interior paints are expected to meet the Greenness standard), pre-finished drywall corner trim, low-emission kitchen cabinets, 2.0 and 2.5 ton high efficiency heat pumps. Inside the envelope ductwork, integrated thermostat/control system, electric car recharging station, photovoltaic attic ventilation fan and walkway lighting, Category 5 wiring (appropriate for advanced telecommunications and computer technologies), compact fluorescent fighting fixtures and torchieres, high efficiency, Energy Star-rated appliances, and solar hot water pre-heating system.

The Simi Valley demonstration home is expected to open in late May.