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Energy Efficiency Lab Home

Building a home with a purpose


Through collabpittsburgh lab homeorative research with production homebuilders, their trade contractors, and product and material manufacturers, we believe we can identify the design, construction and financial approaches needed to drive down construction costs and make zero energy homes part of mainstream America.

In March of 2010, IBACOS and S&A Homes put that theory to the test, breaking ground on the Alliance's Energy Efficiency Lab Home in Cobblestone Estates, a community in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh project will explore approaches for pursuing zero energy in the cold climate zone, which equates, roughly, to the northern half of the U.S.

Construction was completed in October of 2010, but the entire research life of the house will span six years. More than 40 project partners are collaborating to evaluate the Lab Home and its energy-saving systems against three criteria:

  1. Performance: We'll be looking at how well the home conserves energy, while at the same time providing a healthy, safe, durable and comfortable environment for the homeowners. Hundreds of sensors will allow us to test and monitor key factors like individual system energy use, moisture management, air exchanges, indoor air quality, and water usage throughout the life of the house.
  2. Constructability: We'll be studying how to make highly energy efficient homes easier for homebuilders to produce on a large scale. We will look at material availability, the time and training required by the technologies we use, and how we can overcome the barriers that homebuilders might encounter in adding a zero energy home to their product line.
  3. Cost: We'll examine how we can make zero energy homes more affordable to build and buy, while also studying how much they can save homeowners on energy bills and the overall value they deliver.

In addition to serving as a research tool, the Lab Home will serve as an educational venue, and a valuable source of information about what we need to do to reach the Alliance's goal of making zero energy homes an affordable option.

lab home cutaway

To learn more

Those are the basics, but there's a lot more to know. Click on the image above to see how we're looking at the whole house as a system.  Use the navigation on the left to learn more about our project partners and delve further into the details of our research. And, watch the What's New section for upcoming events, press releases and research results.


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