The Home Building Industry's Technical Information Resource

Back to Standard View
Building SystemsHome Building TopicsDesign & Construction GuidesBest PracticesConstruction Methods

Did You Know?

You can increase the value of your next remodeling project by including energy efficiency improvements. Learn how with Energy Efficiency Improvements for Remodeling Projects.

Resources and information about how to incorporate energy conservation and efficiency in home building and remodeling.

Innovative Products & Processes - Technology Inventory [Back to Top]

Consider using the products below to take advantage of their potential to provide one or more of the following in the homes you build: Affordability, Energy Efficiency, Quality & Durability, Environmental Performance, and Safety.

Combined Heat and Power Systems for Residential Use
Compact Fluorescent Lighting
Evaporative Coolers
Geothermal Heat Pumps
HVAC Equipment and Duct Installation within Conditioned Space
ICF Walls - Wood Fiber Composite Forms
Induction Cooktops
Insulated Vinyl Siding
Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF)
Insulation Alternatives: Blown or Foamed Through a Membrane
Insulation Alternatives: Non-Fiberglass Batts
Insulation Alternatives: Sprayed Fiber Insulation
Insulation Alternatives: Sprayed Foam Insulation
Interior Storm Windows
Modulating Furnace
Photovoltaic Systems
Photovoltaics - Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)
Solar Water Heaters
Solar-Powered Attic Fan
Wind Power Generator
Window Film

Design & Construction Guides [Back to Top]

Guides for designing and building various types of construction

Automatic and Programmable Thermostats
Building a Better House with Concrete - A Concrete Homes Technology Brief
Concrete Homes Save Energy - A Concrete Homes Technology Brief
Considerations for Building a More Energy Efficient Home
Efficient Lighting Strategies - Wise Design Choices Can Meet Lighting Needs and Save Energy
Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Tips for New and Existing Homes
Energy Efficiency Improvements for Remodeling Projects - Training Modules
Energy Efficiency in Remodeling: Appliances & Lighting
Energy Efficiency in Remodeling: Ducts
Energy Efficiency in Remodeling: House Air Leakage
Energy Efficiency in Remodeling: Roofs & Ceilings
Energy Efficiency in Remodeling: Windows
ENERGY STAR® Building Upgrade Manual
Energy-Efficient Appliances: Selection and maintenance guidelines for major home appliances
Energy-Saving Tips for Homeowners
Passive Solar Design
Solar Water Heating
Spot Ventilation - Source Control to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Tech Set 4: Energy-Efficient Lighting
Tech Set 6: The Sun in the 21st Century Home
Technology Fact Sheet: Air Sealing - Seal air leaks and save energy!
The Ins and Outs of Caulking
The Quality of Concrete Costs a Little More - A Concrete Homes Technology Brief
Window Selection: Modern windows provide energy savings, durability, and comfort
Best Practices [Back to Top]

General recommendations and accepted practices

Making Energy Efficiency Visible to Homebuyers

Performance Reports & Case Studies [Back to Top]

Evaluation of how products and systems perform in real life applications

A Net-Zero Fossil Fuel Use Home Case Study Designed so that annually, on average, the consumption of electrical energy from utility sources is offset, or equaled by the production of electrical energy from renewable sources, such as solar energy or wind.
Advanced Framing: An Examination of its Practical Use in Residential Construction The case study highlights the advantages of and barriers to widespread adoption of OVE practices.
Air of Importance: A Study of Air Distribution Systems in Manufactured Homes This study analyzed the performance of air distribution systems in 24 manufactured homes and compared them with the results of 9 homes built to the more stringent MAP specifications.
Bern Clothes Washer Study The small town of Bern, Kansas was selected evaluate the energy and water savings of high-efficiency, horizontal-axis washers.
Building Integrated Photovoltaic Project A PV-Metal Roofing Photovoltaic (PV) system was installed in an NAHB Research Center 21st Century Townhouse. This report covers: system installation, balancing of system components, monitoring of PV system performance and survey of visitors' attitudes.
Energy Performance Remodeling: Habitat for Humanity Montgomery County (HFH-MC) Habitat for Humanity Montgomery County (HFH-MC) worked in conjunction with Montgomery County to purchase foreclosed homes, remodel them, and ultimately deliver 12 fully renovated homes to clients.
High Performance Home Spotlights These high performance builders have won the EnergyValue Housing Award and stepped up to DOE's Builders Challenge.
Institutional Factors Affecting Commercialization of Fuel Cells An initial review of the economics and regulatory evolution of stationary generation of electric power in the United States explains the origin of some of the barriers and opportunities that confront the commercialization of distributed generation (DG).
Insulating Concrete Forms for Residential Construction Demonstration Homes This study examines construction methods, builder perceptions, homeowner perceptions, costs, thermal performance, and energy efficiency, as these issues are impacted by the decision to use an ICF product.
Measured Performance of Five Residential Geothermal Systems Data of the performance of five residential geothermal systems in northeastern Ohio was collected and analyzed to characterize performance of the systems in occupied homes and to compare the measured output at design conditions to standard sizing methods.
Monitoring and Evaluation of the Energy Performance of the 21st Century Townhouse Units Report by the NAHB Research Center for DOE. This report provides an in-depth analysis of the energy performance of four research townhouses built in 1995-96. Each house was built of a different structural material - autoclave aerated concrete block, steel framing with foam insulation, insulating concrete forms, and structural insulating panels.
NAHB Research Center Teams With NYS Builders To Install PV Systems The NAHB Research Center is working with residential builders across New York State to demonstrate the advantages of New York ENERGY STAR® labeled homes and photovoltaic (solar electric) systems.
Opportunities for Solar Water Heating A series of focus groups were held with builders, contractors, and architects, all of whom had some familiarity with solar water heating. Overall, they were skeptical about the cost-effectiveness of solar water heaters. They feared bad installations would cause roof leaks and they perceived the solar collectors to be ugly. They made a number of specific suggestions for steps the solar industry needs to take in order for solar water heating to be successful in the residential market.
Review of Residential Electrical Energy Use Data This report summarizes electrical energy use data for single-family detached homes available from public and private sources. Data sources summarized in this report include: National annual data from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA Monthly data from two builders, Hourly profiles from three utility companies, and Detailed energy use data from field measurements.
Steel vs. Wood: Cost and Short Term Energy Comparison - Valparaiso Demonstration Homes Study evaluated the cost and short-term energy comparison of steel and wood construction in the Valparaiso demonstration homes.
Strategies for Energy Efficient Remodeling: SEER 2003 Case Study Report The goal of the Strategies for Energy Efficiency in Remodeling (SEER) project is to provide information to remodelers and consumers about opportunities to increase home energy performance.
Technical Factors Affecting Commercialization of Fuel Cells Identify the technical and building code issues and electric system interconnection choices related to the use of fuel cells in residential buildings.
TechPractices: 21st Century Townhomes, Bowie, MD In 1996 the NAHB Research Center, Inc. built four 21st Century Townhouses to test, demonstrate, gain experience, and disseminate information about innovative home building products, systems, and technologies.
TechPractices: AFM Study House, Minneapolis, MN Using readily available building technologies, such as insulating concrete forms (ICFs) and structural insulated panels (SIPs), this 4,964 sf home has an average winter heating bill of approximately $48 per month. Many of the technologies have the added benefit of reducing on-site labor.
TechPractices: Bill Eich Construction, Spirit Lake, IA Bill Eich Construction is a residential builder/remodeler located in Spirit Lake Iowa. They have been using frost protected shallow foundations (FPSF) in all their projects since 1985
TechPractices: Bob Schmitt Homes, OH Keeping customers comfortable while lowering their energy bills is a goal of most energy-efficient builders. Bob Schmitt Homes (BSH) does this by equipping about 80 percent of their new homes with geothermal systems for heating and cooling and hot water.
TechPractices: Controlled Environment Structures Controlled Environment Structures (CES) is a mid-sized builder operating out of Greenville, Michigan that has used R-Control Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) produced by AFM Corporation to build approximately 500 homes and additions over the past 11 years.
TechPractices: Dunrite Construction Inc., Rolling Meadows Subdivision, Dover, DE Paul Keeley, of Dunrite Construction, has taken his small residential construction firm a couple steps beyond a simple awareness of R-values, making energy performance a cornerstone of his company.
TechPractices: EcoVillage at Ithaca, Ithaca, NY By using an inventive arrangement of distribution systems, homes can be designed and constructed to generate low energy bills but maintain high indoor air quality.
TechPractices: Environmental Showcase Home, Phoenix, AZ The intent of the Environmental Showcase Home (ESH) is to demonstrate that products available on the market can make a resource-conserving home without compromising comfort or aesthetics.
TechPractices: FBC Infill Housing, Louisville, KY Durable yet inexpensive, these houses are planned with energy- and cost-saving features that make them affordable to would-be home buyers with marginal resources.
TechPractices: Greenlee Park, McStain Enterprises, Boulder, CO Greenlee Park, completed in 1997, is the first environmentally sustainable development built by McStain Enterprises, and has since had a big impact on how this company (which averages 250 units a year) builds homes.
TechPractices: Grove at Patuxent Woods, Patuxent City, MD In this project for seven affordable houses, it was possible to concentrate shared wastewater treatment systems in areas of the site with adequate soil conditions, allowing four houses to route their septic to a fifth lot, while two other houses shared a septic field.
TechPractices: Healing House, BBH Enterprises, Dallas, TX Located in a moderate income Dallas neighborhood, this house achieves its health and energy goals on a moderate ($65/SF) budget by pairing an innovative mechanical and ventilation system with a novel floor plenum design.
TechPractices: Hillside Oaks, Carl Franklin Homes, Dallas, TX What happens when you combine the technology of structural insulated panels with a geothermal heat pump system that costs less to operate and maintain than conventional HVAC systems?
TechPractices: Home Front, Inc., Brian Bishop, Venice, FL The panelized housing system developed by Brian Bishop of Home Front, Inc. gives homeowners the durability of a non-wood exterior system, the energy efficiency of full thickness foam insulation, and the lower cost of a panelized system that erects quickly without the need for heavy-lifting equipment.
TechPractices: Island Presentation Partnership, Dewees Island, SC Combining local climatic responses with new materials, Dewees Island contains a growing population while protecting its sensitive ecosystems.
TechPractices: Keith Swilley House, Koehnemann Construction, Panama City, FL This single-family Florida house uses a horizontal loop geothermal heat pump system and an array of energy-saving strategies.
TechPractices: Long and Gordon, Dove Street, Boston, MA In an area noted for its crime, a builder teamed up with the City of Boston to tear down a crack house and replace it with durable, energy efficient, two-story homes, strategically placed to tie together and revitalize the neighborhood.
TechPractices: Palm Harbor Homes, Dallas, TX Palm Harbor Homes has a line of HUD-Code homes that is the first to qualify for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Energy Star Homes Program label.
TechPractices: RBG Residence, Kingston, NY Energy efficient, comfortable, quiet, and convenient, geothermal heat pumps are an improvement over conventional systems because they use the soil's energy storage instead of relying on fossil fuels.
TechPractices: Ryan Homes, The Cornell, Rochester, NY The Cornell is an efficient but small two-story colonial built as a more energy-saving version of an existing Ryan model noted for its efficiency. The Cornell is less expensive to build than the older model and more energy efficient.
TechPractices: Solar Townhouses, Philadelphia, PA A builder in Pennsylvania is taking advantage of a new solar mortgage program and coupling it with government grants to make high technology affordable.
TechPractices: Stone Ledge, Leakwood, KS With "totally maintenance-free living," this small developer went after a small but discriminating market to show there's always a demand for well-built homes.
TechPractices: Watt Homes of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT Watt Homes, headquartered in Irvine, California, has been building homes for more than 50 years and is currently one of America's fastest growing home builders.

Field Evaluations [Back to Top]

Evaluation of how products and systems perform in real life applications

Habitat for Humanity - Arundel
J. W. Miller Companies - Armory Park del Sol
Shea Homes
Summerset Development Company

Questions & Answers [Back to Top]

Frequently asked questions, answered by home building professionals

Are there federal tax credits available to home builders for energy efficient homes?
Do programmable thermostats save energy?
I am using 2x6 studs with R-19 batt insulation accompanied with Kraft-faced vapor retarder, a Visquine vapor barrier, and drywall. Is this the best option? Or should I instead use an R-21 and no vapor retarder? Will I need the R-21 for southern WI? Or will it not add much in terms of insulation over and above the R-19? And seeing how I will have a Tyvek housewrap and a plastic barrier already, how important is that Kraft-faced vapor retarder? I would like your recommendation on the best wall insulation option for this case.
I’ve heard about a product called biodiesel, a fuel made from vegetable oil used in cars and trucks. I’ve also heard about home heating oil that also contains vegetable oil? Are they both the same?
What are some of the home automation devices available to save energy?
What is the best way to insulate steel-framed homes? How much insulation do I need and what kind?

Online Tools [Back to Top]

Web-based programs that help the home building process

Energy Simulator This energy simulator tool was developed to help users evaluate annual energy consumption differences and their economic impact resulting from energy code changes. This tool aimed at serving home building associations, building code authorities and administrators, and home energy researchers.
Web Links [Back to Top]

Recommended Web resources for additional information