PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

Current PATH Projects

The following PATH projects are in progress. Please check back and read PATH Quarterly to find the results of these activities. Below are completed PATH Projects.

Straight Talk: Case Studies from Builders and Remodelers [IMAGE: Michael Lotesto, a long-time remodeler, believes building performance testing is good for both builders and consumers.]
Learn from your peers. Builders and remodelers tell their stories about using PATH-profiled technologies. Includes practical tips and advice; highlights strategies for reducing costs, avoiding delays, and boosting market advantage. Read the fourth case study. Have a feature-worthy project? Contact us.

From one profiled builder: "The case studies are very helpful.  I will use them as marketing pieces.  One friend said it was the best description of our building method and how we do things differently than she had ever read on us. Thank you PATH for promoting better building techniques."  Judy Fosdick, Tierra Concrete Homes, Colorado

Getting Leaner: Improving Production Efficiencies

PATH has entered into a new Cooperative Agreement with the Manufactured Housing Research Alliance (MHRA). Under this agreement two tasks will be performed: 1) to expand lean production analysis to additional manufacturing plants, and 2) to create a model manufacturer's installation manual based on the soon to be created HUD model installation standard. Both of these tasks advance the goals of PATH as set forth in the manufactured housing roadmap, "Technology Roadmapping for Manufactured Housing." The project team includes many of the biggest manufactured housing manufacturers, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), one university, and the MHRA. The project is slated for completion mid-2007.

  • Update: MHRA held "Lean Advocate Training", a training course for representatives from nine manufacturing plants, on April 3-7, in Cincinnati, OH. The advocates learned how to streamline plant operations and improve quality. Their job now is to transfer the knowledge to a "lean team" in each facility. MHRA will assess the results of this effort and present the findings to industry. Read the press release.

Exploring the Supply Chain

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association will conduct cooperative research with PATH to study innovation and the construction supply chain. Project announcement: Exploring the Supply Chain

From Concept to Reality: Building the Home of the Future

[IMAGE: Design perspective of single-family detached home.]

PATH unveiled two Concept Home designs and the first prototype home is slated for construction in 2006. View the plans for detached and attached home designs.

Integrating PATH Technologies into Military Family Housing

The overall objective of this project is to develop a strategy for PATH to integrate innovative technologies into military family housing. Read updates of five sites.

Whole House Calculator

This PATH project is developing a Whole House Calculator, which takes inventory of the processes, products, and materials used to design, engineer, and construct a house. Performance characteristics will be rated according to the value given them by designers, builders, buyers, and other stakeholders involved in residential construction. These scores will then be modified by the way the materials and processes interact with each other to arrive at a whole-house score. The calculator will allow homeowners and housing professionals an opportunity to consider various "what if" scenarios.

  • Update: Housing researchers gathered in Alexandria, VA, March 13-14, to discuss the Whole House Calculator. These nationally recognized experts met with two aims in mind; first to provide a critique of the current draft of the Calculator and second, to provide performance scoring for the various components that make up a house. The final Calculator will be launched on PATHnet in October 2006.

What do Consumers Think about Factory-Built Housing?

The study involves a survey of current and soon-to-be homeowners from different regions and different backgrounds to see whether attitudes and perceptions are changing, and to help determine whether these technologies have a chance in today's marketplace. Project announcement: Consumer Perceptions of Factory-Built Housing

  • Update: Data collection underway. Results will be published summer 2006.

Housing Research: What's Needed?

[IMAGE: Housing symposium participants consider manufacturers' needs for innovation research.] PATH and McGraw-Hill Construction are exploring how the user-community thinks about technology, and how to achieve greater success influencing innovation in the nation's homes.

  • PATH and McGraw Hill Construction released
    " Innovative Products & Practices in Residential New Construction," the results of a survey of 617 homebuilders on their attitudes towards innovation, its benefits and challenges, and the most valued information sources. It is the first publicly available collaboration between PATH and McGraw Hill Construction following February’s symposium on housing innovation.

Streamlining Building Regulatory Processes Through Information Technology

The National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards is developing and field-testing a guide entitled "How to Streamline your Building Regulatory Processes Through the Effective and Efficient Use of Information Technology."

  • Update: The project is finished and the final report is being reviewed.

Unlocking Mysteries of Innovation for Manufacturers

The study will track the internal innovation processes of manufacturers and examine how they develop and market new products. Expected in winter 2006, the results can be used to create models and resources for bringing products past the idea stage, through the proper research and development phases to enjoy widespread implementation. Project announcement: How do Manufacturers Successfully Innovate?

Innovation Matchmaking

PATH is reviewing innovations created outside of traditional homebuilding circles and identifying potential manufacturers to "matchmake." Throughout the "matchmaking" experiment, PATH will document all of the questions, pitfalls, rejections and failures in technology transfer to prepare both sides of future technology transfers. This will result in guides for the research and industrial community as prototype technical assistance aids, and will ensure a longer and more efficient "life" to the matchmaking. Project announcement: Tech TransferPlus

Market Tools for Small Manufacturers

By developing template tools and guides describing markets, regulations, and political processes in homebuilding, PATH can provide a source of readily accessed information for small manufacturers, based largely on large manufacturers' advanced skills. Project announcement: Commercialization Tools for Manufacturers

Innovation in the Evaluation Service Processes

The goal of this effort is to describe strategies, which will increase the acceptance, utility, and value of evaluation service reports with regard to the acceptance of new technologies. The project is underway. HUD project contact: Dana Bres

Cooperative Effort to Develop Remodeler Certification

EPA, DOE, and HUD are funding an effort to expand procedures for certifying and accrediting remodelers in the energy retrofit market. Project announcement: Remodeler Certification

Advancing Energy-Efficient Remodeling

In partnership with the remodeling industry, PATH is conducting a multi-year project aimed at developing voluntary guidelines, or protocols, for energy-efficient remodeling. A national group of industry representatives is guiding the effort.

  • Update: Preliminary draft of one protocol is available for review. Baseline standard practice report, preliminary specifications, and focus group reports are also available. Full update.

Exploring the Connections: Performance Criteria for Panel Connections

This project will produce a greater understanding of panelized construction and develop Performance Standard Criteria for panel connections to encourage widespread use of this building technology. Project announcement: Performance Standard Criteria for Panels

Foundation Alternatives for Modular Housing

PATH will study the technical options for installing modular housing on slab-on-grade foundation systems and examine the alternatives in terms of technical viability, cost and market acceptance. Project announcement: Slab-on-Grade Modular Housing

Improving Information Flows

PATH and Virginia Tech are studying the relationship between information flows and work processes of small-volume and medium-volume residential builders. Results are expected in the first half of 2006. Project announcement: Industrializing the Residential Construction Site - Phase 5 Modification: Virtual Manufacturing

Evaluating Homebuilding Software

In this study, PATH will describe how software used by homebuilders is improving the residential homebuilding process and describe results obtained by builders. PATH will identify builders who have experience with automated production systems and work with those builders to document the value and efficacy of the systems in use. The study will describe what builders are using and how the automated tools are performing in real-world applications. HUD project contact: Dana Bres

  • Update: A roundtable was held in San Francisco, CA, June 21, to identify tools that will help builders navigate the process of IT system selection and implementation. The discussion centered around three key components: business process review and integration, IT system integration, and training. Interested groups can look forward to a builders' guide to IT adoption that will be delivered at the conclusion of the study. Read the press release.

Testing Sealants and Coatings Durability

This PATH/National Institute of Standards and Technology program is preparing to test coatings and sealants with the goal of developing improved predictors of their durability. Contributing to the development of testing protocols is the Sealants Consortium, a group of leading manufacturers. Additional confirmation of the testing protocol will be provided by well-known, third-party product evaluators.

The study includes:

  • Development of a weathering durability model for coatings and sealants.
  • Development of an Internet decision-support tool for risk assessment.
  • Affordability guidelines for owner-occupied housing.
  • Outside testing of sealant samples at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory.

HUD project contact: Dana Bres

How Do Panels Accommodate Utilities?

PATH is evaluating different types of panel systems and documenting how they integrate wiring and other utilities. The study will suggest ways that integration of wiring and utilities can be best accommodated within different kinds of panelized wall, floor, and roof systems, including open-wall wood frame panels, structural insulated panels, honeycomb composite panels, and concrete panels. HUD project contact: Luis Borray

Design Implications for Affordable Housing

PATH will examine the role that architectural design can play in advancing housing affordability through technology innovation or creative design. The project includes:

  • An historical review of the role that building design has played in advancing technology innovation in the home building industry.
  • An investigation of the role that building design plays in residential building innovation, distinguishing among custom-built homes, production homes, and affordable housing.
  • Case studies that illustrate the potential for a larger role for the design community in advancing innovation.
  • An assessment of how architects can become more involved in PATH.
  • Three "Housing Design and Technology" roundtables addressing the relationship between good design and technology innovation in the residential sector.

HUD project contact: Michael Freedberg

Planning for Long-Term Disaster Housing

Long-term emergency housing is intended to shelter residents for periods ranging from three months to several years. In this study, PATH is examining strategies for the provision of long-term temporary or permanent housing for large numbers of individuals and families. It will consider

  • Existing strategies, regulations, and plans.
  • Designs and technologies for rapid construction.
  • Approaches to the development of land-use plans (and potentially the land) prior to the need for long-term emergency housing.
  • Integration of the technologies and strategies into federal planning activities.

HUD project contact: Dana Bres

Prescriptive Methods for Structural Insulated Panels

PATH is developing and coordinating a proposal for a prescriptive code for SIPs in the International Residential Code, with the following goals:

  • Conduct structural testing of SIP connections.
  • Improve the dissemination of advanced design technology to residential design community.
  • Develop technology to support an improved guidelines for design and construction of connections in SIPs.
  • Broaden the database by providing builders with an additional choice of materials.
  • Level the playing fields for alternative and conventional building materials by providing prescriptive standards for SIPs similar to those for light-gauge steel, ICFs, and wood framing.
  • Advance the cause for affordable, durable, energy efficient, and safe innovative housing construction and design methods through alternative materials.

HUD project contact: Dana Bres

Affordable Housing Streamlining

Under this grant proposal, the Affordable Housing Task Force will form three project work groups to initiate an implementation program to

  • Develop measurement criteria from several test sites so that homebuilders and building departments can compile reliable data on savings achieved in the regulatory cost of building affordable housing through the use of information technology.
  • Form a work team to develop a work plan and implementation grant criteria for a national outreach program to promote regulatory streamlining and greater use of information technology in the building regulatory process.
  • Conduct a feasibility study on mandating in IT procurements issued by state and local governments that hardware and software being acquired for use in building regulatory systems be interoperable.

HUD project contact: Dana Bres

Recently Completed PATH Projects

Characteristics of Innovative Production Home Builders August 2006
PATH's recently completed research into the behaviors of production homebuilders posits answers to questions about how this group selects, implements, and communicates about innovation.

Energy Efficient Remodeling Protocols The following reports document the progress of this multi-year effort:

[IMAGE: Moisture-Resistant Homes - A Best Practice Guide and Plan Review Tool for Builders and Developers.]

Moisture-Resistant Homes March 2006
This guide advances the goal of designing, building, and maintaining houses that manage moisture effectively. By making moisture-resistant best practices available in an easy-to-use form, a variety of the most common moisture-related problems in homes can be avoided.

Proceedings of a Workshop to Review PATH Strategy, Operating Plan, and Performance Measures 2006
The National Research Council convened a workshop to discuss the draft PATH Program Review and Strategy, Performance Metrics, and Operating Plan. These workshop proceedings provide an edited, but inclusive, transcript of that discussion. The draft performance metrics and operating plan is included in the appendix.

[IMAGE: Factory Built Housing Roadmap (Including Recomendations for Energy Research)] Factory Built Housing Roadmap (Including Recommendations for Energy Research) January 2006
This document is the second on the topic of manufactured housing. This version expands on the original Roadmap by suggesting a broad array of research initiatives including a comprehensive discussion of energy and its role in the future of factory built housing.

Residential Roofing Research Agenda
This PATH report offers a research agenda for developing residential roof systems that serve multiple functions and provide improved performance. The report covers residential single-family buildings; roofs of all ranges of pitch; and roof systems, including components and subsystems. PATH strategies aim to improve hazard mitigation, energy performance, roof functionality, environmental impact, safety, and efficiency in roof system construction.

Residential Panels Benchmark Requirements
This PATH report identifies the panelized wall systems currently available in the U.S. and international markets. The report describes their technical specifications, how they perform, and in which applications they are used most often. Standard performance criteria that all panelized wall systems need to meet to integrate with existing methods of construction are also described.

Industrializing the Residential Construction Site Phase IV
How can we automate home construction to improve construction workflows and coordinate construction sites? This is the subject of HUD's fourth report in a series of five on methods for industrializing the residential construction site. This report features the results of computerized simulation models of panelized framing. The report also describes the panel erection process in a clear, step-by-step manner, and provides estimates of required labor time.

International Conference on Factory Built Housing: Innovation in Home Manufacturing
The objective of the work which this report describes was to evaluate the opportunity and need for, and potential benefits of, an international conference on factory built housing. An additional objective was to begin to characterize the content and structure of such a conference.

Getting Lean: Assessing the Benefits of Lean Production in Factory Built Housing

Manufactured Housing -- Saving Money by Saving Energy

How Builders Choose (or Don't) to Use Panels Read the report "Integrating Panels into the Production Homebuilding Process."

CAD Details for Technology Inventory

PATH Tech Sets 1-6

Organizing Residential Utilities: A New Approach to Housing Quality

Overcoming Barriers to Innovation in the Homebuilding Industry

Information Technology to Accelerate and Streamline Home Building (PDF, 355 KB)

Building Moisture and Durability

The Diffusion of Innovation in the Residential Building Industry

Content updated on 9/8/2006

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