July 2000

BTC to monitor energy efficient Habitat for Humanity homes

Two new homes in Lenoir City—built using innovative and energy efficient building technologies—were dedicated on June 21 as part of a Habitat for Humanity project.

ORNL’s Buldings Technology Center will monitor how well those new technologies perform during the next year.

The Habitat for Humanity homes, located in the Harmony Heights subdivision, contain an insulating concrete form wall system that features light, insulating polystyrene foam blocks stacked inside the walls and filled with concrete. The expanded blocks provide wall insulation.

These homes will help scientists and engineers determine the wall system’s building thermal mass, air-tightness and ground coupling on the whole building’s energy performance.

Jeff Christian, director of ORNL’s Buildings Technology Center, says the effort, a partnership between DOE, Habitat for Humanity of Loudon County and the Insulating Concrete Forms Association, serves two purposes.

This Habitat for Humanity home and another like it will be monitored for the energy efficiency of their wall systems, which use insulating polystyrene foam. The homes are in Lenoir City's Harmony heights subdivision.
“The first is to help answer important energy performance questions on innovative buildings technologies,” Christian says. “The second is to provide energy efficient Habitat for Humanity housing to eligible homeowners.”

The partnership grew out of a four-year energy efficiency study at the Buildings Technology Center in which more than 100 types of walls were tested and analyzed. A crew that included Habitat volunteers and some current and retired ORNL employees began construction on the two homes in January. The homes will be monitored for one year for their energy efficiency.

The first wall system studied at ORNL was an insulating concrete form system in 1997. ORNL researchers are working on an additional 10 homes, each with different wall construction, which they hope will be constructed in the same development in the future.

Christian says the homes will serve as a model for measuring the insulation performance of wall systems.—Fred Strohl


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