In early May, as part of a $4 million initiative to develop and demonstrate new energy efficiency solutions for the nation's homes, the Department of Energy selected Home Innovation Research Labs as one of five prospective contract award recipients.

DOE selected three Home Innovation proposals for Building America research, which could total nearly $1.1 million over the next two years. A long-time provider of research services to the Building America Program, Home Innovation looks forward to continuing innovative research initiated under previous contracts, as well as pursuing newly proposed research, all focused on advancing solutions for moisture-managed, high-performance residential envelope systems.

One of the projects selected will provide additional research into extended plate and beam (EP&B) wall systems. This technology was initially developed by Home Innovation as part of a previous Building America project, and offers a simplified method for incorporating continuous rigid foam insulation into a traditional 2x4 wood-framed wall assembly. Since EP&B is based on the most commonly used home framing technique currently in use, it removes many of the barriers to the adoption of High-R wall systems. This makes both DOE and Home Innovation very optimistic about its chances for widespread market adoption.

Another project will develop wall system guidance, as well as improve methods for assessing and improving moisture durability of home envelopes. The goals of this project will be to demonstrate the performance of well-designed high-performance walls, to identify and develop solutions for wall systems with less optimal performance that need additional safety/durability, and to develop a set of design criteria and code change proposals that ensure durability in high-performance walls.

Finally, Home Innovation will be studying an innovative approach to roof insulation retrofits, in which nailbase insulated panels are installed over the roof deck before re-roofing. These panels can be installed in one step and result in semi-conditioned attics that can reduce HVAC energy use by at least 10%.

As shown in these Home Innovation projects selected for Building America funding, all the Building America teams and projects selected will focus on developing and implementing solutions to three interrelated core technical challenges: high performance building envelope assemblies and systems; optimal comfort systems for heating, cooling, air distribution, and humidity control; and high performance ventilation systems and indoor air quality strategies. The DOE has decided to fund projects that develop and demonstrate integrated solutions to any or all of these core technical challenges and primarily focus on solutions for the hot/humid, mixed humid, and cold climate zones, all of which have very different requirements. These projects will demonstrate techniques that address these requirements, while promoting energy efficiency at a reasonable cost and preserving indoor air quality.

For more information on the Home Innovation projects and the other teams and projects selected by the Building America Program, visit the Building America website via