PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

Removing Building Regulatory Barriers

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January 2004, 51 pages

As part of its strategic goal to increase the availability of decent, safe, and affordable housing in American communities, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been involved in efforts to advance housing technology through its administration of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH). This Federal initiative works to accelerate the creation and widespread use of new building products and technologies to improve the quality, durability, environmental performance, energy efficiency, disaster-resistance, and affordability of our nation's housing.

Building regulatory activities directly and indirectly affect new building technology research, development and deployment. For instance, a building technology developer may devote resources to research and development of a building technology, discovering too late in the process that the technology does not meet building regulatory criteria. As a consequence the technology must then be tested, retested, redesigned or significant documentation developed indicating it meets the intent but not the specific criteria of adopted codes. Similarly, local code officials may be reluctant to approve a technology submitted in a homebuilding permit application unless sufficient documentation showing code compliance on the basis of performance equivalency with the code is provided or there is specific guidance in their codes and regulations pertaining to the new technology to minimize the need for such documentation. Builders may also not want to assume the liability for a non-traditional technology or invest the time necessary to secure approval; consequently more traditional technology is used. These and other situations impact the ability for new building technology to contribute to the PATH objectives.

Since its initiation, PATH has developed and implemented a number of programs related to housing. Many of these programs have been associated with development of new building technology and construction practices. Others seek to insure that builders have relevant information to facilitate technology adoption and use. The 2002 assessment of the PATH program by the National Research Council (NRC) recommended, in part, that PATH activities be increased to identify, understand and remove barriers to development and diffusion of new technologies in housing. For this reason, the Roundtable was conducted. This report presents and summarizes discussions held prior to, during, and after the Roundtable.

Content updated on 3/22/2005

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