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General Questions About PATH

What is the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing?

What do PATH's goals mean in "real-life" terms?

Briefly, how is PATH going to achieve its objectives?

Who are PATH's partners?

How is PATH managed?

What commitment do PATH's partners make to each other?

How are the Federal partners contributing to the PATH effort?

Why is PATH necessary? Can't private industry "advance technology" on its own?

How did PATH originate?

Q. What is the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing?

A. The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing is a public-private initiative that seeks to speed the creation and widespread use of advanced technologies to radically improve the quality, durability, energy efficiency, environmental performance, and affordability of America's housing.

PATH is a voluntary partnership in which leaders of the homebuilding, product manufacturing, insurance, and financial industries join forces with representatives of Federal agencies concerned with housing. By working together, PATH partners improve the quality and affordability of today's new and existing homes, strengthen the technology infrastructure of the United States, and help create the next generation of American housing.

The PATH program spurs change in housing industry design and construction by providing the latest information on innovative building materials, processes, and systems; by showcasing innovative housing projects that can serve as models for builders and homeowners across the country; by promoting focused, cooperative housing research among industry, government, and university partners; and by tackling institutional barriers to innovation-from risk and liability concerns to the lack of effective product evaluation systems.

Q. What do PATH's goals mean in "real-life" terms?

A. PATH hopes to change the way Americans live. Expected results from the PATH effort are increased housing affordability, increased durability, lower construction costs, improved energy efficiency, fewer construction injuries, less disaster losses, and accelerated development and increased market acceptance of new housing technologies. The technology development and utilization process will also ensure that the American housing and construction industry will be a dynamic economic force far into the 21st century.

PATH's goals also could put more money in the pockets of American homeowners. For instance, the average American household spends $940 a year on home maintenance and repairs and improvements. A 50-percent savings in residential maintenance costs means $470 a year or a $39 monthly savings.

In addition, the average new home's energy bill is $1,500 a year. A 50-percent cut in the average new house energy bill reduces that annual cost to $750. Monthly savings for the homeowner would be $62.50. Approximately 200,000 new homes are built each year. Multiplying the $750 savings per home by 200,000 results in $150 million dollars saved in energy costs each year.

By the year 2010 PATH technologies could save consumers $18 billion a year in energy costs and reduce annual carbon emissions by 39 million tons, equivalent to the amount produced each year by more than 30 million cars.

Q. Briefly, how is PATH going to achieve its objectives?

A. PATH offers technical assistance to individual builders and remodelers who are willing to evaluate specific, promising, innovative technologies in their buildings. Manufacturers participating in the PATH initiative can ask for feedback on changes needed to improve their products' ability to meet PATH goals.

PATH promotes the general use of new housing technologies through evaluation projects and demonstration programs with builders across the country. Currently PATH is working with builders and city officials interested in incorporating appropriate technologies in local housing developments in Denver, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Tucson, and it is looking for additional sites.

PATH's Web site serves as an Internet gateway to the latest housing information, offering links to housing industry technical resources, descriptions of Federal housing programs, and news of housing technology advances made by private- and public-sector partners. With the NAHB Research Center ToolBase Online, PATH also offers in-depth descriptions of more than 132 innovative materials, products, and systems considered to have less than 5 percent of their potential market share. PATH also promotes and spotlights ToolBase case histories or field applications of new housing technologies.

PATH addresses institutional barriers to the acceptance of innovation such as liability concerns, the lack of a clear national system for the evaluation of new products and systems, the prescriptive nature of codes and local code approvals, regulatory confusion, inadequate training, and risk aversion. With experts in these areas, PATH develops strategies for overcoming these roadblocks to progress.

PATH promotes focused, cooperative housing research among industry, government, university, and national laboratory partners. The partnership promotes commercialized Federal research and development.

Q. Who are PATH's partners?

A. The Federal agencies in PATH include the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the National Science Foundation. The Department of Housing and Urban Development administers the PATH secretariat.

Private-sector members of PATH include builders, remodelers, and developers; housing manufacturers; product manufacturers; financial and insurance organizations; distributors and retailers; university and research laboratories; and utilities and labor organizations.

PATH is a low-cost/high-leverage technology partnership. The Government's primary role is to act as catalyst, facilitator, and remover of barriers. The industry itself will develop and deploy the technologies for the next generation of American housing.

Q. How is PATH managed?

A. PATH does not work alone, but rather through partnerships with many groups that meet regularly to coordinate, manage, and plan all of PATH's activities. We do this both through daily communications and through special meeting groups. Click here for more information about PATH's management.

Q. What commitment do PATH's partners make to each other?

A. PATH Partners agree to the following tasks:

Make a good-faith effort to offer housing products that meet PATH goals in large markets by 2010.

Participate in the joint management of the partnership.

Share nonproprietary information about the costs, benefits, and other characteristics of building innovations with the partnership.

Work with appropriate Federal and State agencies to develop and implement tests of innovative products and systems.

Q. How are the Federal partners contributing to the PATH effort?

A. PATH's Federal partners contribute toward all PATH goals. For instance, the Department of Energy's Building America Program and the Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGYSTAR for Homes Program play key roles in advancing a variety of environmental and energy-efficienct technologies. The Department of Housing and Urban Development identifies high-priority technologies, as well as field demonstrations of the technologies. The Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology has expertise in advanced insulation measurement, residential fire safety research, advanced building materials and codes, and issuance of standards. The Department of Agriculture's Forest Products Laboratory provides expertise in engineered wood issues. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Labor are interested in topics ranging from the construction of tornado-safe room shelters in homes to worker training.

Federal partners detail to the PATH campaign special personnel who coordinate programs and work together with the private sector to develop, demonstrate, and deploy advanced technologies that will improve the quality and affordability of today's new and existing homes, strengthen the technology infrastructure of the United States, and help create the next generation of American housing.

Q. Why is PATH necessary? Can't private industry "advance technology" on its own?

A. Probably not by itself. Despite the importance of the housing industry, expenditures on residential technology research and development are relatively low as a percentage of sales in comparison to other industries and to similar activities in industrialized countries.

Emerging technologies that could be useful to the housing industry often are not readily accepted. This is because housing, unlike other driving forces in our economy, is extremely dispersed, consisting of hundreds of thousands of separate companies. To introduce a new technology into this marketplace, let alone achieve any significant market penetration, is a time-consuming and costly process-one that discourages most attempts at true innovation and slows down those that do get past the prototype stage. It can take 10 to 25 years for a new housing product or technique to achieve full market penetration.

PATH concentrates on areas in which technology, as a result of regulatory barriers, lack of information, or inadequate technical support, is failing to reach the marketplace. By helping industry to close these gaps and to get next-generation technology into the market faster, PATH hopes to have a significant impact on improving the quality and affordability of U.S. housing.

Q. How did PATH originate?

A. The residential building industry is one of the largest and most important sectors of the U.S. economy. In recognition of the role of housing in the U.S. economy, the White House in 1994 convened representatives from all segments of America's construction industry to consider a broad set of National Construction Goals. Over the next three years, the residential segment of the construction industry, represented by homebuilders, code officials, product manufacturers, and other interested parties, developed a research plan for implementing National Construction Goals for the housing sector. PATH is the outgrowth of those proposals. PATH was officially launched on May 4, 1998.

Content updated on 3/5/2003